Lady Eleanor Fortescue
Lady Eleanor was born into wealth and dignity, the eight of nine children, to Hugh Fortescue, 1st Earl Fortescue, and Hester Grenville, the daughter of a Prime Minister. Being the daughter of an Earl, she received the best of educations to become a perfect lady. Or, at least, that is what her mother intended her to be, for Ellie is not without her flaws. She knows how to hide them from prying eyes, but that does not mean she can wish them away. Perhaps, if Countess Fortescue had cared enough to correct them while Eleanor was still young, the girl would not suffer from her constant criticism.
A sweet creature, one would not suspect of Eleanor's volatile and impulsive character, since the smart little thing has learned to pretend so well. All ladies raise their eyebrows when they hear the Countess complain of her daughter's brimming vitality, surely wondering how could such a lovely creature misbehave at all.
Currently, Lady Eleanor is the hopeful age of seventeen and she enjoys life as much as she can with all the restrictions her position imposes. She adores travelling – specially to London, or really anywhere where she can escape the influence of her mother - and is currently visiting Tyrhampton. Why Tyrhampton of all places? Because one of her dearest friends, Lady Georgina Lovendale has recently married and moved to the town, and has invited Eleanor to stay with her for a few weeks. It was not easy to convince the Eleanor's mother, but Georgina promised her that she would introduce Eleanor to the high society and no further discussion was needed. Countess Fortescue wishes to see her unmarried children well settled and out of her home as soon as possible. Specially Eleanor, for she is the most difficult of her daughters. Of course, our dear Ellie does not wish the same thing. She is young, lively, she wishes to attend grand balls, to see the world, to fall in love... Oh, all the things she would do! If only she was free.
Among Lady Eleanor’s virtues is the ability to see the bright side to anything – but, mind you, this does not mean that she is naïve. She enjoys life tremendously, always has a cheeky little smile on her lips. She adores everything that she has been taught to do - even if she would love to despise it just to spite her mother -. She knows how to play the part of an elegant and dignified lady - whenever she must. Her talent is not within the realm of reasoning and methodical procedures, she is an artistic soul. She knows how to do a little bit of everything - painting, playing the piano, singing, dancing - but just as well as other ladies her age. She is not particularly talented in anything. Dancing is one of her favourite things, she never sits down during balls. She has a lovely voice, but nothing out of the ordinary, however, tolerable and sweet enough to accompany her pianist skills. She likes reading, but mostly novels about romances or tales of far-off lands. Poetry captivates her too. She adores reading out loud, putting every last bit of passion she has in herself into it. When she was younger, she had fun putting up little plays with her siblings. It is not proper to do so anymore, but she believes she makes an excellent actress.
Thanks to her father’s insistence on education, Eleanor is well educated in all subjects a lady must know. She likes learning but detests studying. Her last governess suffered dreadfully because of her laziness. She is good with languages, she was taught french and italian since childhood. Both languages she finds equally beautiful, but she has a soft spot for italian, because of the country’s art history.
Eleanor has never had to work a day in her life. She completely ignores what it is to struggle financially and, even though she has likes helping the poor, she really has no social consciousness. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care about starving people, she just forgets they exist most of the time. She is always lost in her imagination. She will always help - or try to help - anyone who asks her to, specially her father. She would do anything for him, even if he barely seems to remember she exists.
What Eleanor hates the most is prejudiced people - although she can be a bit prejudiced herself - and people who claim to always know better. She hates being told she is in the wrong, even when she is. She can ask for forgiveness, but it will take her swallowing her pride. She also hates having to meet her mother’s expectations. She wants to marry for love, like in the novels, but she knows that it is more likely for her to marry someone of her parent’s choosing. It is her duty, she has been raised to do it. She knows she will carry it out, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t break her heart. In her wildest dreams, her mother sets her up with a man she actually learns to love with a passion. Passion. It is the key word to understand Eleanor. But, even if she may be lead by her feeling, she is not stupid. Not at all. She likes to study people around her and take notes. The worst thing that someone can do to Ellie is calling her an inexperienced and foolish little girl, which her brother Hugh usually does and, of course, makes Eleanor made with rage.
Among her weaknesses, the inability to hide her sentiments is at the top. It is impossible for Eleanor to lie to those that know her well. They have already memorized her very transparent expressions. Ellie may be respectful, but she has the reprehensible gesture of wrinkling her tiny nose before what she finds improper and disgusting. Her nurse and her succession of governesses tried to correct this gesture to no avail. Ellie is a cheerful person and it is no surprise that, as much as she cannot repress her disgust, she cannot avoid showing her happiness. Her laugh is very contagious.
She is also quite egocentric, always talking about her own experiences and thoughts, but she does not notice at all. She may love talking to people, but she is terribly forgetful and may stop paying attention as soon as her mind wanders to other places. She is easily distracted, but she tries to make an effort and focus when she is interested in something or someone. If there is a subject Eleanor has barely a notion of it is politics. Even though her father was a member of Parliament and her mother the daughter of a PM, she simply does not care for it.
Eleanor’s eyes are peculiar. They don’t seem to be a particular colour. Her irises are blue, but tiny grey spots make them look a dull shade of blue. Sometimes, the little yellow around her pupils is visible. Sunset tinged ringlets frame Lady Eleanor’s sweet oval face. She hasn’t yet lost the soft cheeks of childhood. Her skin is smooth and delicate. Being as dreadfully pale as she is, the minimum exposure to sun rays turns it red. And embarrassment too. She also flushes scarlet when she cries or gets worked up. During summer months, when the lovely afternoons call for outdoor adventures with friends and family, her countenance is covered by a light sprinkle of freckles. It is hard to notice them, unless you are paying special attention to her face. Her arms are also covered in little freckles, but theses ones are, sadly, permanent. Her skin is a little constellation.
The whole effect her countenance inspires is charming tenderness. Her big eyes demand attention, they light up everytime something strikes her heart. Some say Eleanor is the the most handsome out of the Fortescue girls, but others prefer her sister Mary’s grace or Anne’s quiet sophistication.
Her father is Hugh Fortescue, 1st Earl Fortescue. A wise and loyal man, who, although no longer jovial - he is sixty years old -, hasn't, as of yet, lost the spark of youth. He has a long lists of achievements on his old back. He was once the Member of Parliament for Beaumaris. He was once appointed 3rd Baron Fortescue of Castle Hill, Devon and Vice-Admiral of Devon. He later was Lord Lieutenant of Devon. He currently holds the title of 1st Earl Fortescue.
Her mother is Hester Grenville, daughter of Prime Minister George Grenville. An elegant woman, who, at the age of 46, has lost all ability whatsoever to endure her children for a very long time. The poor woman cannot be blamed, for she birthed nine children into this world:
-Hugh Fortescue, Viscount Ebrington. 30 years old. Heir to the Earldom. Married to Lady Susan Ryder. He has one son, named after him, Hugh.
-Lady Catherine Fortescue. 26 years old. Deaf and dumb. Unmarried.
- Hester Fortescue, Baroness King. 24 years old. Married to Peter King, 7th Baron King. She has two sons: William and Peter.
-The Hon. George Fortescue. Lieautenant on board the ship "Temperance". Unmarried.
-Lady Mary Fortescue. 21 years old. Unmarried.
-Lady Anne Fortescue. 19 years old. Unmarried.
-The Hon. John Fortescue, 18 years old. Unmarried.
-Lady Eleanor Fortescue -our Lady under consideration -. 17 years old. Unmarried.
-Lady Elizabeth Fortescue. 11 years old.
Lady Eleanor has a distant, formal relationship with her father. She did not know him in the prime of his life, he has always been an old man before her eyes. However, she much prefers her father to her mother. The Countess did not bother to raise her last three children, leaving them in the hands of nurses and nannies, and later governesses and tutors. Eleanor dislikes her scoldings and upturned nose - which her sister, Hester, casually named after her mother, inherited.
Eleanor's constant companion is her brother John, only a year older than herself. Together, they find a way to have a little amusement while confined at their home. She often forces him to accompany her on endless strolls in the gardens. Usually, young Elizabeth joins them, when she can escape her nanny. Mother always says Eleanor will corrupt little Lizzie. Anne is Ellie's confidante, she is much more tranquil than her younger sister, but has the sweetest laugh and is as good as few. She has never been robust, which is why Eleanor has mostly been forced to play with John all her life, since Anne is often confined to bed and not advised to stay long outside the home during winter. Mary is always trying to fill in for tired Countess Fortescue, mothering all her siblings left at home. Catherine, who is deaf and dumb - for which Lady Fortescue believes she will never find a husband - is a favourite with Eleanor. George, even though he is most of the time at sea, makes an effort to pamper young Eleanor when present. Ellie does not care much for Hugh or Hester, although she respects them both. She finds Hugh too serious and boring and Hester terribly full of herself. However, she adores her little nephews.
-Castle Hill, in Filleigh, North Devon.
-Ebrington Manor, in Gloucestershire.
- Weare Giffard Hall, in Devon.
[The names and titles have been taken from a very much real family: The Fortescues. The rest is all from my imagination.]