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‘Bridgerton’ author Julia Quinn visits Annapolis library to promote new prequel book ‘Queen Charlotte’

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Courtney Jolly (left) and Kelly Rollison (right) take a picture with Julia Quinn (middle), author of the “Bridgerton” book series, after a book-signing event for her newest novel “Queen Charlotte” at the Michael E. Busch Library in Annapolis on May 13, 2023.

Visitors to the Michael E. Busch Annapolis Library traveled back in time to the Regency era Saturday evening when New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn stopped in to promote the release of her newest book, a prequel to the hit series “Bridgerton.”

Quinn released “Queen Charlotte” this month, which connects to her historical-romance book series set in 19th-century England that was turned into a Netflix adaption in 2020. The new book is co-authored by American screenwriter Shonda Rhimes who last year started writing the spinoff story following the original show’s success. Quinn’s book is a retroactive addition to the Netflix series “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” that offers a partially fictional exploration of the Queen of England Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and her marriage to King George III in 1761.

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The event drew out around 200 fans of the “Bridgerton” series from all different age groups. The room was decorated with antique china, greenery and other props to give those in attendance the full “regency” experience. The furnishings were donated by local businesses.

Maria Mazujian, 32, said that she has seen the “Bridgerton” Netflix adaption and has started to read the book series. The Owings Mills resident said her favorite part of the book talk was hearing Quinn talk about how she retroactively wrote a book for the prequel series “Queen Charlotte.”

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It was interesting to hear Quinn talk about the process of writing a “reversed-engineered” book, as Quinn called it, from a screenplay, Mazujian said.

“When I found out that Julia Quinn was coming to Annapolis, I had to tell my friends about it. This is a huge deal [for her] to be coming to Annapolis,” she said.

Melody Wukitch, owner of Park Books & LitCoLab located in Severna Park, was the driving force behind bringing Quinn to Anne Arundel County. Searching for a large enough venue to host the event, she contacted Cathleen Sparrow, the executive director of the Anne Arundel County Library Foundation, and not only secured one that could fit the capacity Wukitch was searching for but also set up a game plan for the entire event.

Wukitch added that she had been wanting to foster a relationship with the Anne Arundel County Public Library for almost a year and she said that this event was what brought them together.

“We wanted to host an event that would introduce new readers to the library,” Sparrow said. “[Melody] went above and beyond to make this a special event.”

Tickets went on sale on a Friday afternoon in April, and within 36 hours, the event sold out, Wukitch said.

In line to see and meet Quinn, Mazujian had the signed copy of “Queen Charlotte” everyone received with their ticket and her personal copy of “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” her favorite installment of the “Bridgerton” series, to get signed and personalized by the author.

Wutkitch also booked Nikki Payne, a local author from Bowie, to also discuss her book “Pride and Protest,” which is a modern adaption of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” looking through the lens of people of color. Payne, who is an anthropologist for the Office of the President of the United States, facilitated the discussion portion with Quinn on the stage, asking her questions about “Queen Charlotte” and her rise to become an author with a television adaption to her original series, created by Rhimes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” fame.

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Payne also participated in signing copies of “Pride and Protest” at the event.

Julia Quinn (left), author of the “Bridgerton” book series, talks with local Bowie author Nikki Payne (right) about Quinn’s newest novel “Queen Charlotte” at  Michael E. Busch Library in Annapolis on May 13, 2023.

Quinn published the first installment of the now globally renowned “Bridgerton” series in 2000 with “The Duke and I.”

The series take place in 1800s England, following a wealthy family called the Bridgertons. The stories dive into the lives of the eight children of the late Viscount Bridgerton and his widow Violet: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth.

Both the book and the limited series are fictional, but they explore the historical theory that Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife to the real King Georg III, was of mixed race and how that fact would have changed history and society, Quinn said.

“I thought that it was a great way of creating this semi-alternative universe,” she said.

Queen Charlotte does not make an appearance in the books, but she does have a significant role in the Netflix series as Queen of England from her marriage in 1761 until her death in 1818. In the TV show, Charlotte is revered by the women in the British high society for her annual ceremony for young ladies eligible for marriage.

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In this grand presentation at the palace, Queen Charlotte chooses “the diamond” of the season. The queen decides who is the most beautiful bachelorette at the first ball of the dating “season.” Receiving the title of the queen’s diamond is considered a great honor for any young lady in the show. This prestigious title makes her more desirable to the season’s bachelors and increases her chances of finding a suitable match by the end.

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“Adding Queen Charlotte was my favorite change that [Netflix] made to the [original] series. I really love that she provides this really great framework for the Bridgerton show. She provides both comic relief and is heartbreaking at sometimes,” Quinn said. “We really got to see her public face in “Bridgerton” but you get these little flashes of the private life underneath, so I love that they decided to do this exploration into her backstory.”

Skip Auld, CEO of the Anne Arundel County Public Library, admitted that he didn’t know who Quinn was at the time the event was scheduled, but now is preparing to read Quinn’s new book. Auld has wanted to host author events for years and hoped hosting Quinn could open the door for others in the future.

“We want to find things that are special to everyone. We want to try to create events that are important to everybody,” he said. “Getting to meet a favorite author is a special treat for anyone and the more we can facilitate that, the better. My special focus would be to try to schedule authors that speak to everyone in our county whether they are regular readers.”

Quinn’s Bridgerton book series “Queen Charlotte” and Payne’s “Pride and Protest” were on sale and generated over 300 additional books in sales, according to Christine Feldmann, director of marketing and communications for Anne Arundel Public Library. In all the meet-and-greet raised about $2,000 for the library foundation.

Sparrow said she hopes to start doing more mini-fundraising events like this one in addition to their gala events.

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“To have Quinn come to Anne Arundel County is huge. We wouldn’t have been able to have Julia Quinn in the county without Melody, we are really in debt to her,” Sparrow said.

Quinn’s books and other historical romance titles are currently available for checkout at the Annapolis local library.


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