Friday, April 1, 2011

historical pursuits

Remember the game Trivial Pursuit? I was thinking how fun it would be, for us history lovers at least, to play one that was historical in nature. If you know of any I'd love to hear about them! Tying in past and present, here is the finale of the spring show for Washington Old Time Fiddlers that Paul took part in this week. He's at the far right holding his fiddle in front of him, looking away from the stage. He calls his violin "Lucy" for some reason and loves her to death, especially when he's not practicing;) If you click on the picture it enlarges quite nicely, if you want a wider view.

You'll see quite a few female violinists onstage here, something of a no-no during the 18th-century. Here's a bit of trivia I loved stumbling across in my research, taken from a copy of the Virginia Gazette April 1, 1775:

Ladies who are inclined to play the GUITTAR may be instructed on that instrument by a lady lately arrived - Inquire of the Printers hereof.

Ladies were encouraged to play keyboard instruments or guitars ("lap instruments") because it was considered improper for a lady to raise and expose her arms as would be necessary when playing the violin or flute. I have my Roxanna Rowan in The Colonel's Lady heeding this advice, only I won't tell you which instrument she plays. You'll just have to read the book!

Have you come across any interesting historical trivia in your reading or writing? I'd love to hear it here!

Happy April 1st!


  1. Seems like Trivial Pursuit has a history category. It's been years since I played though.

    Love the picture of Paul at his spring show. I think it's cute that he's named his violin Lucy.

    I'm going to guess that Roxanna plays the pianoforte, or perhaps a mandolin.

    There were several interesting pieces of historical trivia in the Romanov book I finished yesterday. The one piece that has really stayed with me though, involves Nicholas II's mother Marie Feodorovna. When she left Russia after the Revolution, she left from the Crimea. She had been in Kiev when the Revolution happened, and went to the Crimea with her daughters and sons-in-law. What struck me about it, is this was the first time she'd been back to the Crimea since her husband, Alexander III had died there in 1894. I just found that fascinating, especially since Marie and Alexander appear to have been a love match.

  2. Michelle, You've jogged my memory - there was a historical category, only it's been so long since I've played it's kind of fuzzy!

    You've made a very good guess on the mandolin:) And thanks for the comments about Paul. He's come a long way but has a long way to go as the violin is such a hard instrument to learn. I don't know if anyone really masters it, other than the Joshua Bells and David Garrets of the world!

    You've brought up a topic very dear to my heart - Russian history and the Romanovs. I think Marie Feodorovna was such a beautiful woman as she looks so strong and regal in portraits. Her DIL, Alexandra, was also a beauty but in a very different way. And those 4 daughters! I never get tired of looking at their pictures, even Alexi. Interesting about the Crimea which is supposedly such a beautiful spot. No matter the tragic history they have, you mentioned one very important point - Marie and Alex III and then Nicolas and Alexandra were truly love matches. If you ever have the chance to read Alexandra's bio told from the standpoint of being Queen Victoria's granddaughter, I think you'd enjoy it (there are several out there). I'll try to hunt up my favorite and list here later today. Bless you for enjoying some historical pursuit with me;)

  3. Michelle, Since you love Russian hx like I do, you may already have read these...

    Alexandra: The Last Tsarina by Carroly Erickson

    Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie

    A Lifelong Passion by Sergei Mironenko

    I need to check my library for the new one you just finished:)

  4. I just finished a lovely series of books by Susan May Warren and Susan K. Downs that I think you ladies would love seeing how they take place in Russia. These were some of the first books I ever read and I just bought them again the other day so that I could re-read them. They are called the Heirs of Anton Series. They are really great books and both authors spent a lot of time in Russia, so the history is really great. :)

  5. Hannah, Thanks so much for the book/series tip! Michelle and I will take note:) Susan May Warren is just great! She taught a workshop I attended not long ago and is a gifted teacher as well as writer. I'm not as familiar with Susan Downs but am sure she's just as gifted. I'm going right now to look them up on Amazon. Bet my local library has them, too. Hope you have room for a few books before you sail away again!

  6. I haven't studied any Russian history, but I've sure found some gems in U.S. history. I'll only share one example. The first "professional" women's teams, the Bloomer Girls teams, appeared long before "A League of Their Own" (1890's-1934).

    They crisscrossed the country playing men's college, local club, and semi-pro teams. Some teams even had their own Pullman Palace cars.

    Laura, I'm can't wait to read TCL.

  7. Lorna, You do find gems! That's what I love about your books:) Likewise, I can't wait for readers to read A Great Catch and am looking forward to spotlighting you here!

    I've always been a baseball fan but don't know much about the history as I'd like. I'm so drawn to the Pullman Palace cars! If those old cars could talk...;)

  8. How interesting! I had no idea I was so improper when I played the flute for 6 years in school ;) and to think, I begged to take piano lessons but never did ;) historical tidbits...well, after reading about it in a book (never in a history class!) I've been extremely curious about the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 that centered in New Madrid, Mo. It amazes me because these earthquakes were some of the strongest in US recorded history and Missouri is just a hop skip and a jump from me. And who ever thinks of Missouri and earthquakes? It is said that when it happened, the Mississippi river ran in reverse current and church bells were made to peal as far away as Boston and even Ontario. Can you imagine? Perfect novel fodder... :)

  9. Happy April! It's so nice to see Paul and Lucy! You must be so very proud of your boy. Interesting tid bit about stringed instruments and ladies. My little bit of trivia, may not be that impressive, but I found it interesting to learn how fearful American colonists were to drink water as they thought it would make them ill, and instead they consumed so much rum and other alcohol from morning to night. It's terrible to think of that when today we are so conscious about the dangers of alcoholism. But not drinking water, that is hard to imagine, too.

  10. Heather, I've been missing you! But when you're away I know you're happily buried in artwork and Miss A;) It's neat to know your musical connection as I love the flute (a lady at our church often plays flute solos). I'm afraid I'm hopeless at music but love to listen!

    That's so fascinating about New Madrid and those earthquakes. I wonder how much life (and livestock) was lost, houses, etc. The facts about the river and church bells are amazing!! Certainly novel worthy, like you said. Somehow it reminds me of that other freak of nature Carla here is familar with - the summer about that same time in New England where it snowed/hailed/iced all summer. Can't recall the exact name for it now or the dates but it might be the same time period as the earthquakes. Shudder.

    Bless you, Heather. This is a happy month for you, if I remember;)

  11. Carla,
    I'm so glad you brought this very interesting, albeit disturbing fact up. I deal with alcohol and alcoholism in The Colonel's Lady, particularly my author note, as it was such a problem at that time and had such devestating results, as you've mentioned. Most people today don't realize how alcohol based our nation was! Or the fact that those colonials bathed so little for fear even that was unhealthy. Phew;) Glad we can make our characters bathe and shave and use lavender water as much as we want...

    So excited for you, dear friend. I keep wandering over to your blog to look at your new cover!

  12. Actually I just finished reading Siri Mitchell's A Heart Most Worthy and learned about the Spanish Infuenza outbreak in Boston in 1918...and that anarchists had immigrated from Europe and continued their rampage on the new home front. I, sadly, didn't know about either before I read the book. Which brings me to the point that I tend to get my history facts from historical fiction so I appreciate all the research you historical writers do for your books.


    P.S. That must have been such a fun even to attend. We have Old Time Fiddler clubs up here too -- they have a HUGE event at the end of the summer every year. Amazing talent from toddlers right on up.

  13. Kav, Fiddling in your neck of the woods is quite an art form, especially with biggies like Natalie MacMaster and other Canadians who rock our socks off;) I always love those little ones with their teeny tiny fiddles. It's hard to believe they make them so small. Lots of talent in little packages!

    I, too, get a lot of my history from historical novels, like you, surely the most pleasurable way. I'm familiar with that particular outbreak in 1918 as my grandmother's family in Virginia was hard hit and lost 3 of 10 children. Only my granny and her father didn't get it. They had to take care of the others and it was a very difficult experience, one she talked about until her death at nearly 100.

    Siri's cover is beautiful and the POV quite interesting, from what I hear. I'll look forward to your review:) So glad you're here today!

  14. Enjoy your time off with family, Laura!

  15. Oh Ruth, I will! Thank you! Please soak up some of that TN sun for me, if you please:) Think I'm headed for the theater to see Jane Eyre, thanks to you;)

  16. You are such a tease, Laura. I already preordered. Don't I get a better hint? Got to see a really cool precursor to the lute recently, very unusual looking stringed instrument. Blessings!

  17. Thanks, Laura, I'm glad you like my cover! I'm all giddy with excitement over it.
    And I do rather like that fact that you mentioned that we can make our characters smell good and bathe. Nice little things to enhance our novels to entice the senses of our characters and readers. I'm glad we can take liberties there for sure.

  18. Carrie, I bet you were the first person in the US to do so:) And yet you should be getting a little something before release day... After all, you're in the book, faithful reader! I couldn't have done it without you.

  19. Carla, You are so much more computer savvy than I. I'm sure you've already done what I do, short of worshipping the cover, I print it out and laminate it and gaze upon it till release day:) God is so good! And your cover is definitely a keeper!

  20. I've been excited about the Colonel's Lady for some time, and every extra smidgen I hear makes me look forward to it more!

    I'm glad to hear you're dealing in some way with alcohol and alcoholism in the book and its afterword.I'm tackling the same subject in my WIP, the third novel in my trilogy. I haven't seen alcohol addressed overtly in many CBA historical novels, except in the form of the occasional alcoholic character. Now I will be able to see how you did it in your novel, and how it might differ from what I'm going to do. (I'm sure it will differ in fascinating ways, as my WIP is set a century later than The Colonel's Lady!) I love learning from other authors.

  21. Rosslyn,
    So very true! As iron sharpens iron! I learn so very much from other authors. Recently I was asked to endorse a historical which is so different than my more narrative-driven work. I'm almost finished with the book and beyond even enjoying the story, I'm finding it a wonderful lesson in technique! I'll not soon forget it.

    It is risky to deal with controversial issues w/in the CBA like alcoholism, but handled deftly, readers will hopefully appreciate the message of hope and healing therein. Alcohol-plagued characters are wonderfully redeemable;) Interestingly enough, another author with a new book coming out later this year deals with the same.

    Counting down with you, Rosslyn, till your release date! I know you're a welcome voice in the CBA and your novels will fill a needed niche!