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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Biography, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 587
1. A Boy and a Jaguar

A Boy and a Jaguar  by Alan Rabinowitz illustrated by Catia Chien Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014 ISBN: 9780547875071 Grades K-5 The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from the public library. Wildlife conservationist, Alan Rabinowitz, stuttered as a child. However, he had a gift for talking to animals. Alan's parents took him to doctors and specialists looking for a cure for his stuttering,

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2. The Ideal Literary Life

I've never seen the life of the writer Raymond Roussel condensed so marvelously as in David Macey's The Lives of Michel Foucault (Foucault wrote a book on Roussel), where it becomes a kind of perfect literary life: a life of weirdness, alienation, mental illness, addiction, and suffering, all capped with a mysterious death:
Enormously rich, [Roussel] travelled the world but rarely left his hotel room or his cabin. He financed the publication of his own writings and the staging of his own plays, which were invariably expensive failures accompanied by riots among the audience. His writings excited little interest in his lifetime, though some of the surrealists — notably Breton in his Anthologie de l'humour noir — appreciated them. For much of his life Roussel suffered from serious neurotic illnesses provoked (or at least triggered), it is thought, by the spectacular failure of La Doublure (1897), a long verse-novel, written in alexandrines, about a stand-in actor. He was treated by Pierre Janet, who failed to see any literary talent in him and described him as un pauvre petit malade; Roussel is the "Martial" whose case is discussed in the first volume of De l'Angoisse à l'extase (1926). Roussel was a homosexual, though little is known about his sexual tastes and activities, and became totally dependent on barbituates in his later years. He died in Palermo, where his body was found in his hotel room, lying on a mattress which he had — presumably with great difficulty, given his physical state — pushed up against the door connecting his room to that of his travelling companion. The door, habitually left unlocked, was locked. Whether Roussel was murdered or committed suicide has never been determined. (125)
You have succeeded as a writer if someone can describe your work as "invariably expensive failures accompanied by riots among the audience".

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3. Hidden like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins

Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 true stories of survival by Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhuis; translated by Laura Watkinson An Arthur A. Levine Book; Scholastic. 2014 ISBN: 9789545543620 Grades 7 thru 12 To review this book, I checked a copy out from my local public library Anne Frank recorded in her diary the two years the Frank family spent in hiding during World War II. Though Anne’s story

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4. Akbar Jehan and the dialectic of resistance and accommodation

By Nyla Ali Khan

To analyze the personal, political, and intellectual trajectory of Akbar Jehan—the woman, the wife, the mother, and the Kashmiri nationalist, not simply an iconic and often misunderstood political figure—has been an emotionally tempestuous journey for me. The Kashmiri political and social activist is my maternal grandmother. I am so interested in studying her life and work because, to my mind, there is a historical value in challenging the historical narratives about the political actors of pre-and post-1947 Jammu and Kashmir and the movement for an autonomous and pluralistic Kashmir. I have attempted to steer clear of delimiting and constricting narratives about her life and work in my recent book. It is important to reshape the collective historical memory so that it includes the humanitarian and pluralistic endeavors of leaders of the movement at that critical time after the partition of India.

While teaching classes on Women’s and Gender Studies at the Universities of Nebraska and Oklahoma, I realized that history has done a rather inadequate job of memorializing the contributions of women political and social activists. Akbar Jehan’s work of sustaining the community, caring for the marginalized and disempowered at a turbulent time, has not been captured by professional historians, who have peripheralized the work of women in rebuilding societies following armed conflict.

With the oral and historical resources available to me, I investigated the impact of Akbar Jehan’s work on the legal, social, and economic status of women in Jammu and Kashmir. She was a passionate advocate of women’s education who sought to place girls—including those of impoverished backgrounds—in the modern and vibrant world of intellectual and scientific pursuits. Working with Lady Mountbatten, wife of the first Governor General of post-Partition India, Lord Mountbatten, Akbar Jehan advocated for repatriating young women who had been forcibly removed from their families during the partition of the country. According to my mother Suraiya and her older sister Khalida, Akbar Jehan also worked to restore the honor of those women who had borne the brunt of communal vendetta. Following the partition, she helped to form the Relief Committee and served on the chair of the Food Committee, which sought to address economic losses resulting from the collapse of the tourism sector and the subsequent rise in the cost of living. Later, Akbar Jehan founded the institute Markaz Behbudi Khawateen, still in operation today, which imparts literacy, training in arts and crafts, health care, and social security as tools of empowerment.

All of these efforts constitute a powerful rebuttal of the tendency among Western observers to conflate Islamic norms with practices. Western feminist epistemologies in particular, as I have observed in Islam, Women, and the Violence in Kashmir, can impair the research paradigms, hypotheses, and field work on women in Islamic societies. Akbar Jehan believed that women citizens should be accorded equal rights with men in all fields of national life—economic, cultural, political, and in government services. She reinforced the idea that women should have the right to work in every line of employment for terms and wages equal to those for men; women would be assured of equality with men in education, social insurance and job conditions, though she argued that the law should also give special protections to mothers and children. In contrast to many Western feminists, however, Akbar Jehan gave equal credence to the path-paving work of women within religious, familial, and communal frameworks. Moreover, she sought to motivate education within minority communities (as opposed to state-controlled education), and above all she recognized culture and history as sites of political and social struggle.

Akbar Jehan understood that reforms and consciousness-raising could occur most decisively at the grassroots level, not in the corridors of power in New Delhi, nor in the plush halls of parliament. I would venture to say that the many harangues, digressions, dogmatic statements, and red tape of parliament could not intimidate an activist who had worked in the trenches and walked shoulder to shoulder with the leaders of the anti-monarchical, anti-colonial, and Independence movements of the Indian subcontinent. Akbar Jehan was of the opinion that enfranchisement of both women and men, and assuring women of equal opportunities in education, are not empowering in themselves, but would cause a momentous shift in traditional gender relationships. To address these political obstacles, women who were active in politics in the 20th century sought not only to improve the position of their particular organizations but also to forge connections between the various women’s groups. One of their major accomplishments came in 1950, when the government of Jammu and Kashmir developed educational institutions for women on a large scale, including the first University, as well as a College for women. There remains much scholarly work to be done in exploring how women in civic associations and in government led the way toward a peaceful pluralistic democracy.

By virtue of her status among the major Kashmiri institutions, Akbar Jehan earned the authority to make major policy decisions. Thus, she enjoyed a privilege that other intelligent visionary women did not have. For example, she represented Srinagar and Anantnag constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian parliament from 1977 to 1979 and 1984 to 1989, respectively. Akbar Jehan was also the first president of the Jammu and Kashmir Red Cross Society from 1947 to 1951. She was the first lady of Jammu and Kashmir from 1948–1953 and again from 1975–1982. So, it would be difficult to deny that making one’s vision a reality, particularly for a woman in the South Asian context, is contingent, to a certain extent, on socioeconomic privilege and political clout. And though Akbar Jehan’s critics have pointed out that her elite position gave her visibility and access to the echelons of power, this by no means diminishes her legacy.

khanNyla Ali Khan is a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma and member of the Harvard-based Scholars Strategy Network. She is the author of The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir, and The Life of a Kashmiri Woman. She is also the editor of The Parchment of Kashmir, a contributor to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women (2013), and a guest editor for Oxford Islamic Studies Online.

Oxford Islamic Studies Online is an authoritative, dynamic resource that brings together the best current scholarship in the field for students, scholars, government officials, community groups, and librarians to foster a more accurate and informed understanding of the Islamic world. Oxford Islamic Studies Online features reference content and commentary by renowned scholars in areas such as global Islamic history, concepts, people, practices, politics, and culture, and is regularly updated as new content is commissioned and approved under the guidance of the Editor in Chief, John L. Esposito.

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5. Everybody Paints!

Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family  by Susan Goldman Rubin Chronicle Books, 2014 ISBN: 9780811869843 Grades 5 and up As a child growing up in Maine, Wyeth was a well-known name in my home. I vividly remember visiting the Portland Museum of Art with my parents the year I was in 6th grade for a special exhibition of Andrew Wyeth's tempera paintings. I was pleased to learn

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6. The Other Side

In this exceptional literary memoir, Johnson paints a candid self-portrait of a life bearing the weight of a horrendous event — getting kidnapped, bound, and raped by an ex-boyfriend. This is a story that insists on being told, and it is conveyed with incredible grace. Books mentioned in this post The Other Side Signed Edition [...]

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7. Women in the House (and Senate) by Ilene Cooper

A Woman in the House (and Senate): how women came to the United States Congress, broke down barriers, and changed the country. By Ilene Cooper; Illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley Abrams. 2014 ISBN: 9781419710360 Grades 7 and up I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library. It is interesting what we take for granted, especially the opportunities for women. Now girls are

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8. Daniel Mendoza: born on the 4th of July (249 years ago)

By Ronald Schechter

This past 5 July was Daniel Mendoza’s 250th birthday. Or was it? Most biographical sources say that Mendoza was born in 1764. The Encyclopedia Britannica, the Encyclopedia Judaica, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, and the Encyclopedia of World Biography all give 1764 for Mendoza’s year of birth, as do the the websites of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, the International Jewish Hall of Fame, WorldCat, and Wikipedia. The blue plaque on the house in Bethnal Green where Mendoza lived states that he was born in 1764. Indeed, Mendoza’s own memoirs claim that he was born on 5 July 1764.

But the records of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue at Bevis Marks in London indicate that Mendoza was actually born in 1765. Thanks to the work of Lewis Edwards, who reported his findings in a lecture to the Jewish Historical Society of England in 1938, and whose paper was subsequently published in the Transactions of that society, we know that the Mendoza was circumcised on 12 July 1765, 249 years ago today. Jewish law requires infant boys to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth, and this would suggest a birth date of 4 July 1765. (Edwards writes that “we must take the date of birth to have been 5 July 1765,” but in that case Mendoza would only have been seven days old when he was circumcised, which would have violated Jewish law.) It would be quite a coincidence if another Daniel Mendoza had been born on 4 July 1765, and our Daniel Mendoza, whose family belonged to the same synagogue, had been missing from the circumcision records of the previous year. It is equally unlikely that Mendoza would have been circumcised at the age (almost exactly) of one year. Moreover, Edwards consulted the records of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons and found that “Daniel Mendoza, tobacconist, of Bethnal Green, aged 22,” was initiated into the society at some time between 29 October 1787 and 12 February 1788. We know from his memoirs that Mendoza had worked in a tobacconist’s shop between 1782 and 1787, and letters he wrote to the newspapers in 1788 gave his address as “Paradise-Row, Bethnal Green.” So it is reasonable to assume that the new initiate was Daniel Mendoza the pugilist.

Is it possible that Mendoza was mistaken about his own birth date? This seems unlikely, since if he knew he was 22 in late 1787 or early 1788 when he registered with the Freemasons, he should have known he was born in 1765. A printer’s error is more likely the cause. One can easily imagine a printer, or an apprentice, switching the type and accidently entering his “5” after “July” and placing his “4” after “176,” thereby changing 4 July 1765 to 5 July 1764. Whatever the reason for the error, once it was made it was bound to be repeated. When reporting on Mendoza’s death in September 1836, the Morning Post wrote that the boxer “had reached his 73rd year,” as did Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, when in fact he died in his 72nd. And the proliferation of this false information in the years following Mendoza’s death made made it “common knowledge.” Despite Edwards’s careful research, most of the people who have written about Mendoza in the last three quarters of a century have repeated the earlier mistake.

mendozap6-xsWhy does any of this matter? What difference does it make if Mendoza was 21 and not 22 when he defeated Martin the Butcher? Probably not much. Am I being pedantic by trying to determine the exact date of Mendoza’s birth? Not entirely. If historians are less than rigorous with details that “don’t matter,” we are likely to be lax when they do matter. Moreover, there is a case to be made that Mendoza’s birth year does matter. After all, we are dealing with a commemoration. The bicentennary of the French Revolution was commemorated in 1989, and any attempt to move it up to 1988 would have been seen as misguided. Similarly, Americans would have balked at the suggestion that they celebrate the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1975 rather than 1976. The birth of a famous boxer is in a different category of world-historical importance, to be sure, but commemoration is commemoration, and it obeys certain rules. Centuries and half-centuries are more important than decades, which take precedence over individual years. How would you feel if you went to celebrate your grandmother’s 100th birthday only to find out when you arrived at the party that she was 99 (and that her birthday was the previous day)? You would wish her well, but somehow it wouldn’t be the same.

So let’s find some fitting way to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mendoza’s birth, but let’s do it next year, and on the 4th of July.

Ronald Schechter is Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary. He is the author of Obstinate Hebrews: Representations of Jews in France, 1715-1815 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003) and translator of Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing with Related Documents (Boston and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004). He is author of the graphic history Mendoza the Jew: Boxing, Manliness, and Nationalism, illustrated by Liz Clarke. His research interests include Jewish, French, British, and German history with a focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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Images from Mendoza the Jew: Boxing, Manliness, and Nationalism, illustrated by Liz Clarke. Do not use without permission.

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9. Songs for the Games

By Mark Curthoys

Behind the victory anthems to be used by the competing teams at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, which open on 23 July, lie stories both of nationality and authorship. The coronation of Edward VII in 1902 prompted the music antiquary William Hayman Cummings (1831-1915) to investigate the origin and history of ‘God Save the King’. While the anthem had become ‘a sacred part of our national life’, Cummings could find no reliable trace of single authorship of its words, though concluded that the aptly-named organist and court musician John Bull (1559×63-1628) had the strongest claim to have composed its tune.

What, though, of the anthems of the nations of the United Kingdom, each separately represented at the Commonwealth Games? The national anthem itself was only gradually adopted as such after its first recorded performance in September 1745. Half-a-century later, its standing was sufficiently established to attract subversive parody. ‘God Save Great Thomas Paine’ was penned in 1793 by a Jacobin sympathiser, the Sheffield balladeer Joseph Mather (1737-1804), who was later subject to criminal proceedings which, for a year, prevented him from performing in public. By the late nineteenth century, public performances of ‘God Save the Queen’ itself provoked occasional hostile reactions in Ireland and Wales, as was noted by the encyclopaedist of music Percy Scholes (1877-1958), author of a definitive study (1954) of what he dubbed ‘the world’s first national anthem’. Political nationalism and cultural revivalism, respectively, inspired alternatives.

‘God Save Ireland’ (1867), written by the journalist and MP Timothy Daniel Sullivan (1827-1914), was rapidly adopted as a de facto national anthem. The more militant ‘A Soldier’s Song’ written in 1907 by the Irish revolutionary Peadar Kearney (1883-1942) did not initially catch on – it was said to be difficult to sing – but in the wake of the Easter Rising in 1916, it eclipsed Sullivan’s anthem and was later adopted by the Irish Free State and its successor Republic of Ireland. Remaining within the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland in turn adopted ‘Danny Boy’ (1912), a ballad composed by a west of England barrister and prolific, commercially-successful songwriter Frederic Edward Weatherly (1848-1929) and set to the traditional ‘Londonderry Air’.

‘Land of my fathers’ (‘Hen wlad fy nhadau’), the national anthem of Wales, dates from 1856 when James James [Iago ap Ieuan] (1832-1902), an innkeeper, composed music to accompany words written by his father Evan James [Ieuan ap Iago] (1809-1878), a cloth weaver from Pontypridd. Like other anthems, its adoption was gradual, but its enthusiastic reception by people of Welsh descent around the world signified its status. ‘O land of our birth’, the anthem of the Isle of Man, also represented at the Commonwealth Games, was composed by William Henry Gill (1839-1923) of Manx parentage and education, who spent most of his life as a civil servant resident in the south of England. A Ruskinian folk revivalist, he visited the island at the end of the nineteenth century to collect folk songs, one of which he used for the musical setting of the anthem, first performed in 1907.


The early twentieth century was a fertile period for patriotic song writing, most obviously ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, written in 1902 by the schoolmaster and don Arthur Christopher Benson (1862-1925) as a Coronation Ode to Edward VII, and sometimes proposed as a national anthem for England. Team England will instead use ‘Jerusalem’, whose musical origins lie in the Great War when, in early 1916, at the request of the ‘Fight for Right’ movement which sought to ’brace’ the nation to pursue the war in the face of mounting losses, Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918) set William Blake’s words to music.

At the Commonwealth Games between 1962 and 2006 Team Scotland used ‘Scotland the Brave’, whose lyrics were written by the Glasgow journalist Cliff Hanley (1922-1999). Recent research has established that they were a product of Hanley’s writing for the variety stage in Glasgow, and were originally performed as a rousing patriotic finale to the first act of a pantomime during the winter of 1952-3. Both the words and music of ‘Flower of Scotland’, the current anthem of Team Scotland, and a leading contender for an official national anthem, were written in about 1964 by Roy Williamson (1936-1990), a former art student in Edinburgh, and a leading figure in the city’s folk music revival. By 1990 hostility to the playing of ‘God Save the Queen’ at rugby internationals when England played Scotland at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, prompted the Scottish Rugby Football Union to seek a more acceptable sporting anthem. The choice of ‘Flower of Scotland’, with its echoes of Bannockburn, heralded a memorable Scottish rugby victory over England that year.

A musical acknowledgement of the multi-national basis of the United Kingdom awoke early morning listeners to BBC Radio 4 for nearly thirty years at the end of the twentieth century. The day’s broadcasts began with ‘UK Theme’, a medley of tunes representing the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, including Rule Britannia, Scotland the Brave, Men of Harlech, and the Londonderry Air, composed and conducted by Fritz Spiegl (1926-2003), an Austrian refugee from Nazism. It was removed from the schedule in 2006.

Dr Mark Curthoys is the Oxford DNB’s Research Editor for the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is a collection of 59,102 life stories of noteworthy Britons, from the Romans to the 21st century. The Oxford DNB is freely available via public libraries across the UK, and many libraries worldwide. Libraries offer ‘remote access’ allowing members to gain access free, from home (or any other computer), 24 hours a day. You can also sample the ODNB with its changing selection of free content: in addition to the podcast; a topical Life of the Day, and historical people in the news via Twitter @odnb.

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Image credit: Union Jack face paint on girl, by Nathanx1, via iStock Photo.

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10. What Is It? Genre Part II

Hopefully you enjoyed What Is It? Genre Part I, it’s now time to delve a little deeper.

Let’s take a look at the differences between: biography, autobiography and memoir? Often confusing, are they all the same?

A biography is the life story of a person written by someone else.

An autobiography is the life story of a person written by themselves.

A memoir is a collection of memories from a person’s life, told in the first person. It’s different from an autobiography, because it does not tell the entire life story.

Now that we’ve got that straight, what is the difference between an authorised or unauthorised biography?  An authorised biography is a biography written about a person with the subject or family’s permission.

An unauthorised biography is just that.  A biography that has no approval from the subject, which naturally means the subject has not contributed information or personal material to the biography.  A well known unauthorised biography is Oprah: A Biography by Kitty Kelley.

Just when you thought that was the end, I bring you fictional autobiography.  Essentially, it’s when an author creates a fictional character and writes a book as if it were a first person autobiography.  Sound confusing? A popular example of a fictional autobiography is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This also brings us to the controversy of autobiographical fiction.  This is when an author will write a book and claim it is their autobiography, although it contains falsehoods and may not be true at all.  A great example of this is A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, originally sold as a memoir but later found to contain much fiction.

Many readers will suspend disbelief in order to enjoy a good fantasy or fairytale, but if an autobiography is found to contain false claims or fiction, is it any less enjoyable?  I like to know what I’m reading beforehand and resent it if I find out later that a book was not all I thought it was.  What about you?

Let’s look at a few more genres before I close off this What Is It? article on genre.

The Hunter by Julia Leigh is an example of Tasmanian gothic literature

Gothic literature is very popular and includes such novels as Dracula by Bram Stoker and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  Gothic novels contain some of the following elements: horror, secrets, romance, madness, death, ghosts, supernatural and gothic architecture including haunted houses and castles.  Characters in a gothic novel will often include: women in distress, tyrannical males, maniacs, heroes, magicians, angels, ghosts and much more.

Gothic horror or gothic literature is a great genre, but what about Tasmanian gothic literature?  Yes, you read right, there are a number of novels now classified as Tasmanian gothic literature and if this tickles your fancy, you may want to check some of them out: The Roving Party by Rohan WilsonThe Hunter by Julia Leigh and Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan.

Whatever your reading tastes may be, you are bound to enjoy some genres more than others and at some point in your reading life, continue to read from your favourites.  Just remember to keep exploring and venturing into new reading territories because you never know what you’ll find.

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11. First Dog Fala by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk, illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery

On Wednesday, I wrote War Dogs: Churchill and Rufus by Kathryn Selbert, detailing the relationship between Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his little pet poodle Rufus, his constant companion during WWII.  Well, Rufus wasn't the only dog to have a master who was also a world leader.  American President Franklin D. Roosevelt went through the war years with a little black dog named Fala.

In her dog biography, Elizabeth Van Steenwyk writes that Roosevelt spent much of his time during his first term as president alone at the end of the day.  His children were grown and away, his wife traveled to different parts of the country giving speeches   And so, one day, his cousin Margaret Suckley brought him a little Scottish terrier.  The two took an instant liking to each other.  Roosevelt promptly named his new puppy Murray the Outlaw of Fala Hill (Murray was an old Scottish relative of the Roosevelt's), shortened to Fala.

Once trained, it didn't take Fala long to settle in as the first dog, whether he was at the White House, the president's home in Hyde Park, NY or just riding around in the presidential car.  Because Roosevelt was confined to a wheelchair do to polio, Fala often has to rely on visitors and cabinet members to throw his toys for him to fetch.

Fala was apparently a somewhat adventurous dog and managed to escape the White House and wander the streets of DC before being brought home by the secret service.  Unfortunately, Steenwyk doesn't tell us how Fala managed to get or if his escape hole was ever discovered.

Not only is this a book about Fala, but it also introduces and gives insight in the kind of man Franklin D. Roosevelt was, and how he conducted a war in Europe and the Pacific without the same kind of mobility other world leaders had.

First Dog Fala proves itself to be a very engaging picture book for older readers.  Each two page spread has a page of text accompanied by a detailed corresponding illustration.  The illustrations, which have somewhat of an Edward Hopper quality to them, are done in oil on canvas and give a warm sense of companionship, but also the darker tones reflect the seriousness of the times.  

While this is a wonderful historical look at the times, it does lack any back matter, such as more information, a time line and sources Steenwyk used.  Still, I would definitely recommend First Dog Fala and I would also pair it with War Dog: Churchill and Rufus.  These are perfect books for dog lovers and/or budding history buffs.

If you ever are in Washington D.C., you might want to visit the relatively new Franklin Delano Memorial where you will find not only the President memorialized, but also his canine companion Fala.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was borrowed from the Bank Street School Library

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12. War Dogs: Churchill and Rufus written and illustrated by Kathryn Selbert

It isn't surprising that Winston Churchill was an animal lover, but you would expect he would have a larger dog than a little poodle as one of his beloved pets.  But during the darkest days of World War II, one of his great comforts and his constant companion was his little dog named Rufus, a spunky brown poodle.

War Dogs is written from the point of view of Rufus and introduces readers  Churchill when he was Prime Minister of Britain during World War II from 1940 to 1945.

In this vividly imagines picture of their life together, at times Rufus accompanies his master through the rubble of the bombed out streets of London, or sits nearby as Churchill writes his famous speeches delivered in the House of Commons and over the radio to the British citizens.  Other times, they go out for quiet walks, or spend time in the underground bunker, where Rufus likes to inspect every nook and cranny while Churchill works.

Rufus is privy to all the secret plans for the D-Day landings at Normandy long before most people, and he is by Churchill's side when victory finally comes and the two companions could retire to the country.  As readers go along, they learn not only about the special relationship between this great man and his dog, but also some important preliminary facts about the war and they will be able to read some of the more famous lines of Churchill's speeches scattered along the pages:
Source:Charlesbridge Publishing
The detailed, realistic acrylic and collage illustrations for War Dogs are done in a palate of earth tones,  emphasizing the different moods of the war years and moving the narrative along nicely.  Two of the most effective illustrations are two page spreads of London at night during the blackout where only the faint outlines of buildings, including St. Paul's Cathedral, can be seen and the last two pages showing Churchill and Rufus from the back, the two war dogs, sitting side by side on a grassy knoll, looking over the  tranquil grounds of Churchill's home after the war and a job well done.

War Dogs is Kathryn Selbert's debut work and it is an excellent beginning for this talented artist.   In addition, Selbert has also included back matter which includes a timeline, information about Churchill and poodles and about Churchill himself.  There are also websites, books and a bibliography for more in-depth information.

This is also an excellent book to use as a teaching aid in the classroom or for home schooling.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was bought for my personal library

The is a wonderful Discussion Guide available for use with War Dogs that can be downloaded HERE

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13. Margot Asquith’s Great War diary

Margot Asquith was the opinionated and irrepressible wife of Herbert Henry Asquith, the Liberal Prime Minister who led Britain into war on 4 August 1914. With the airs, if not the lineage, of an aristocrat, Margot knew everyone, and spoke as if she knew everything, and with her sharp tongue and strong views could be a political asset, or a liability, almost in the same breath. Her Great War diary is by turns revealing and insightful, funny and poignant, and it offers a remarkable view of events from her vantage point in 10 Downing Street. The diary opens with Margot witnessing the scene in the House of Commons, as the political crisis over Irish Home Rule began to be eclipsed by the even greater crisis of the threat of a European war, in which Britain might become involved…

Friday 24 July 1914

The gallery was packed, Ly Londonderry and the Diehards sitting near Mrs Lowther—myself and Liberal ladies the other side of the gallery. The beautiful, incredibly silly Muriel Beckett and M. Lowther rushed round me, and others, pressing up, said ‘Good Heavens, Margot, what does this mean? How frightfully dangerous! Why, the Irish will be fighting tonight—what does it all mean?’ M. ‘It means your civil war is postponed, and you will, I think, never get it.’ I looked at these women who had been insolent to me all the session, when I added ‘If you read the papers, you’ll find we are on the verge of a European war.’

Margot Asquith

Redmond told H. that afternoon that if the Government liked to remove every soldier from Ireland, he would bet there would never be one hitch; and that both his volunteers and Carson’s would police Ireland with ease.

War! War!—everyone at dinner discussing how long the war would last. The average opinion was 3 weeks to 3 months. Violet said 4 weeks. H. said nothing, which amazed us! I said it would last a year. I went to tea with Con, and Betty Manners told me she had heard Kitchener at lunch say to Arthur Balfour he was sure it would last over a year.

Wednesday 29 July 1914

Bad news from abroad. I was lying in bed, resting, 7.30 p.m. The strain from hour to hour waiting for telegrams, late at night; standing stunned and unable to read or write; two cabinets a day; crowds through which to pass, cheering Henry wildly—all this contributed to making me tired. H. came into my room. I saw by his face that something momentous had happened. I sat up and looked at him. For once he stood still, and didn’t walk up and down the room (He never sits down when he is talking of important things.)

H.           Well! We’ve sent what is called ‘the precautionary telegram’ to every office in the Empire—War, Navy, Post Office, etc., to be ready for war. This is what the Committee of Defence have been discussing and settling for the last two years. It has never been done before, and I am very curious to see what effect it will have. All these wires were sent between 2 and 2.30 marvellously quick. (I never saw Henry so keen outwardly—his face looked quite small and handsome. He sat on the foot of my bed.)

M.          (passionately moved, I sat up, and felt 10 feet high.) How thrilling! Oh! Tell me, aren’t you excited, darling?

H.           (who generally smiles with his eyebrows slightly turned, quite gravely kissed me, and said) It will be very interesting.

Margot Asquith’s Great War Diary 1914-1916 is selected and edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock. Until his death in April 2014, Michael Brock was a modern historian, educationalist, and Oxford college head; he was Vice-President of Wolfson College; Director of the School of Education at Exeter University; Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford; and Warden of St George’s House, Windsor Castle; he is the author of The Great Reform Act, and co-editor, with Mark Curthoys, of the two nineteenth-century volumes in the History of the University of Oxford. With his wife, Eleanor Brock, a former schoolteacher, he edited the acclaimed OUP edition H. H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley.

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Image credit: Margot Asquith. By Philip de László. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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14. Babe Conquers the World

Babe Conquers the World: The Legendary Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias  by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace Calkins Creek (an imprint of Boyds Mill Press), 2014 ISBN: 9781590789810 Grades 4-12 The reviewer received a galley from the publisher. Most children probably don't realize there was a time when women weren't allowed to play professional sports or when society frowned upon women

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15. Going Somewhere

Going Somewhere is an adventure, a love story, and an utterly addictive read. Benson's tale of crossing the country by bike with his girlfriend might make you think twice about making the same journey, but you won't be able to tear yourself away from this sharp-eyed, hilarious memoir. Books mentioned in this post Going Somewhere: [...]

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16. How much do you know about the First World War?

Douglas_HaigFrom Haig to Kitchener, and Vera Lynn to Wilfred Owen, how well you know the figures of the First World War? Who’s Who highlights the individuals who had an impact on the events of the Great War. Looking through Who’s Who, we are able to gain a snapshot of the talents and achievements of these individuals, and how they went on to influence history.

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

 Who’s Who is the essential directory of the noteworthy and influential in every area of public life, published worldwide, and written by the entrants themselves. Who’s Who and Who Was Who 2014 includes autobiographical information on over 134,000 influential people from all walks of life. You can browse by people, education, and even recreation. Check out the latest feature article, which offers article content on those who shaped history between the years 1897 and 1940. For free lives of the day, follow Who’s Who on Twitter @ukwhoswho

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Image credit: Field Marshal Douglas Haig. Image available via Wikimedia Commons.

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17. I Am Rosa Parks

I am Rosa Parks By Brad Meltzer Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos A whitewashed (ahem) picture book biography of the famed Civil Rights icon. Parson Weems would be proud. Now that we have Phillip Hoose’s Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice out in the world I feel it is incumbent on anyone treading toward teaching kids about the Civil Rights do so with a more open understanding

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18. Hard Choices

It's 2014 and Hillary Clinton's at the top of her game: polling high and openly contemplating a run for the White House. Her latest memoir is a must-read for Clinton fans and foes wanting the dirt on her time in the Obama administration and clues about where she's headed next. Books mentioned in this post [...]

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19. Liberace: our free ebook for June


More people watched his nationally syndicated television show between 1953 and 1955 than followed I Love Lucy. Decades after his death, the attendance records he set at Madison Square Garden, the Hollywood Bowl, and Radio City Music Hall still stand. Arguably the most popular entertainer of the twentieth century (check out the applause greeting his appearance on a 1984 episode of the David Letterman Show  in the video clip below; also, “What do you do when you get Crisco on those rings?”), this very public figure nonetheless kept more than a few secrets. Darden Asbury Pyron leads us through the life of America’s foremost showman with his fresh, provocative, and definitive portrait of Liberace, an American boy.

Liberace’s career follows the trajectory of the classic American dream. Born in the Midwest to Polish-Italian immigrant parents, he was a child prodigy who, by the age of twenty, had performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Abandoning the concert stage for the lucrative and glittery world of nightclubs, celebrities, and television, Liberace became America’s most popular entertainer. While wildly successful and good-natured outwardly, Liberace, Pyron reveals, was a complicated man whose political, social, and religious conservativism existed side-by-side with a lifetime of secretive homosexuality. Even so, his swishy persona belied an inner life of ferocious aggression and ambition. Pyron relates this private man to his public persona and places this remarkable life in the rapidly changing cultural landscape of twentieth-century America.

Pyron presents Liberace’s life as a metaphor, for both good and ill, of American culture, with its shopping malls and insatiable hunger for celebrity. In this fascinating biography, Pyron complicates and celebrates our image of the man for whom the streets were paved with gold lamé.

Download your free e-book here.

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20. The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry written and illustrated by Peter Sis

Last year was the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and in honor of that The Morgan Library in NYC had a special exhibition exploring the origins of this most famous of stories.  Having such an exhibit in NYC seems only fitting, since The Little Prince was written in New York while Saint-Exupéry was living here.  He had left his beloved France after it had fallen to the Nazis in June 1940.

While the exhibit was still running (unfortunately, it has ended), I went to hear Peter Sis speak about his new biography, The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  Sis begins this biography with information about Saint-Exuépry's early life and the beginnings of his passion for planes and flying.  Saint-Exupéry was born around the same time that flying was just getting off the ground - he was only three years old when the Wright brothers flew for the first time in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  A passion for planes and flying stayed with Saint-Exupéry and when he was 21, his mother finally agreed to pay for him to take flying lessons.

Sis follows Saint-Exupéry's career as a pioneer air mail pilot, delivering mail in Europe, West Africa and eventually South America, charting various routes for other pilots to follow, sometimes living on airfields in complete solitude, other times negotiating ransoms for pilots who had been shot down hostile nomads.  Those early days of aviation weren't easy.  Pilots had to battle through wind, rain, and storms, but aviation remained Saint-Exupéry's passion.

In 1936, Sis recounts, while trying to break a flying record, Saint-Exupéry and his mechanic crashed and almost died in the desert.  You may recall that the narrator of The Little Prince was a pilot who had also lived in solitude and then crashed in the Sahara Desert and it seems likely that the origins of The Little Prince come from this experience.  Not surprisingly, Saint-Exupéry had already began publishing his aviation stories as early as 1926.

When France went to war against Germany in September 1939, Saint-Exupéry naturally signed on to be as a pilot.  After France fell to the Germans, he and his wife traveled to the United States, which is when  Saint-Exupéry wrote the little prince while living in a lovely home on Long Island.  But after the tides of the war began to turn, he returned to Europe and began to fly missions out of North Africa, his last one was on July 31, 1944, when his plane disappeared into the sea near Corsica.

When Peter Sis creates a picture book, it is a feast for the eyes as well as the mind.  He has a way of telling a story using basically short, simple declarative sentences, which are sometime wrapped around an illustrations within an illustrations, and by the end of the story, you have been given so much more than you had expected.  And, I am happy to say, The Pilot and the Little Prince is no exception.

The book is designed so that the straightforward text is on the bottom of the page, as though it is earth-bound, while the stuff of dreams and passions reside in the skies above the earth bound narration:

And as you explore the various illustrations depicting Saint-Exupéry's life on each page, you will no doubt recognize the references to The Little Prince - they may be subtle but they are definitely there.
About a third of the book is devoted to the war in Europe and I think this double spread of Saint-Exupéry's beloved France burning/bleeding from the invading Germans is one of the most poignant of Sis's illustrations.  You can almost feel how wounded and hurt Saint-Exupéry must have felt to see France fall into the hands of the enemy:

There are several other double page spreads that are just are incredible.  Like this one showing the lights in the submarine infested ocean that form a U-Boat as Saint Exupery and wife sail to New York, so simple, yet so eloquent:

Or the one of stars forming the head of the little prince as a homesick Saint-Exupéry looks across the ocean towards France:

As always, Sis's illustrations are all just so spot on and exquisitely expressive.

The Little Prince is one of my earliest reading memories and while I know that The Pilot and the Little Prince is not a WWII book per se, it is too hard to resist reviewing here.  And Peter Sis has always been a favorite author of mine, so really I consider this book to be a marriage made in heaven:  It is a beautiful tribute to a beloved author by a beloved author.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was purchased for my personal library

A Teaching Guide to all of Peter Sis's books, including The Pilot and the Little Prince, is available as a PDF HERE

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21. Environmental Book Club

I found another good book for our club.

I didn't expect to like Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor with illustrations by Laura Beingessner as much as I did. Picture book bios are often problematic to me. They sometimes seem too old for picture book folks, too young for older ones, so who are they for? This one, not so much. Definitely for mid-grade school readers. Maybe third or fourth grade.

The first thing that struck me about this book is that very early on we hear that Rachel as a child explored the outdoors by herself and had a mother who had an interest in nature. This child got her start without any formal environmental instruction, such as we would want for children these days, and, yet, she turned into Rachel Carson.

Another thing I liked about this book, and, yes, this is just me, is that it describes a woman's story. Carson as a young woman had needy family to deal with. As often happens with achieving women of her era, she had help. In her case, her mother hustled to pull together money for school. She was encouraged by a female college professor. A male superior at the Bureau of Fisheries advised her to submit work to The Atlantic. She was a professional woman without a personal family. If you read the Epilogue, you'll find that after Silent Spring was published critics referred to her as "an hysterical woman." Someone asked "why a spinster with no children was so concerned about genetics."

Okay, so maybe I got into this story because of the feminist angle I read into it. But, really, the part in the beginning about simply growing up enjoying the outdoors was very significant, too.

Love the period illustrations, too.

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22. Book 3. "Josephine" By Patricia Hruby Powell And Christian Robinson

When I first heard about Josephine Baker, way back in my youth, I found her fascinating. I don't know if it was the banana costume, the gyrating hips, or the life in France, but I was impressed. So when I heard there was a picture book bio, I decided to keep an eye out for it.

Josephine, The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell with illustrations by Christian Robinson is a sharp and arty book.  It's written in free verse that is both effortless to read and expressive and intense. Many picture book bios don't cover an entire lifetime. This one does. I think Hurby Powell is able to do that because she uses dance and Baker's experiences with the segregated world she was born into as threads that keep her focused.

Baker's experience with segregation and work as a civil rights activist give this book another level of interest. As with Persepolis, it doesn't feel as if the reader (this reader, at least) is being instructed. A segregated world is just the well-defined setting for the book.

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23. “Stretch” Johnson, my father

By Wendy Johnson

In the grim period of McCarthyism during the 50s, Howard “Stretch” Johnson, my father, fought for freedom of thought and speech, protesting the persecution of artists and intellectuals. Despite the fact that he had grown away from the Communist Party, with the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party and the revelations of Stalin’s bloody deeds, Stretch stood trial and refused to denounce his comrades. In solidarity, one of my father’s deepest values, Stretch did not leave the Party until 1956. Until the end of his life, he considered himself a “communist with a small c” and espoused every cause he felt was tactically or strategically right in the fight for the advancement of poor folks, convinced that the market economy is not the answer.


Cover to the propaganda comic book Is This Tomorrow by Catechetical Guild. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1959, my father, realizing a dream, had passed his high school equivalency test and received his diploma. All his life he was as proud of that high school diploma as he was of the honorary doctorate he later received from the University of Honolulu. In 1960, Stretch was able to enroll in the degree program at the Columbia School of General Studies after having completed the validation requirements. He was also proud to be a freshman at Columbia University; since I was a freshman at Hunter College that same year, our family was proud to have two generations of freshmen.

Shortly after Stretch arrived at Columbia University, the then Dean of the School of General Studies, Clifford Lord, received a visit from two FBI agents who asked him to get rid of Stretch, saying that he was a former communist and a trouble maker. The dean escorted the agents to the door, saying “Mr. Johnson is a good student here with excellent grades and we are a private institution of higher learning. That’s all that matters!”

Working at night as a proofreader for the New York Times, Stretch was finally getting that college education he had wanted, not only for his children, but for himself. In 1968, he became Director of the “Upward Bound Program” to help disadvantaged youth from New York City enter college. From 1971 to 1982, as Professor of Sociology, he taught in the Black Studies Department at State University of New York, New Paltz campus.

As a teacher, both at the New Paltz SUNY campus and in the education programs of correctional facilities in the mid-Hudson valley area, Stretch mentored many young African-Americans who were inspired by his account of transformative self-realization and determination to continue a commitment to social justice. Stretch shared with the next generations a life experience spanning over sixty years and illustrating personal fulfillment during critical times that shaped the African American condition in American society (“I found that most of the inmates had a much clearer comprehension of the exploitative structure of society and were less subject to illusions about democracy”). His honesty, sense of humor and straight talk appealed to students and drew big crowds to his popular classes. He was proud to talk of his eleven-year record in which he had been characterized as one of the ten best professors on the New Paltz campus. He went on to say “It was here that I had felt most fulfilled as an educator, gratified by my students who called me Malimwu – ‘teacher’ in Swahili .”

I think these years of teaching were indeed the most rewarding years of my father’s life. He used to say to me that if he had turned on one young mind, he had not lived in vain. I believe he touched many lives, and was such a strong example of Black resilience and of everyday heroics, that he will continue to turn us on with his story.

Howard “Stretch” Eugene Johnson (1915-2000) was a former Communist Party leader, Cotton Club dancer, World War II veteran, and academic. His final years were spent as a professor of Black studies at SUNY New Paltz and as an ongoing activist in Hawai’i, where he helped achieve state recognition of Martin Luther King’s birthday as a bank holiday, marching until the age of 80 in Paris, France, and Harlem for causes he believed just. His autobiography, A Dancer in the Revolution, was published in April by Fordham University Press. Wendy Johnson is the eldest of Stretch and Martha Sherman Johnson’s three daughters. She has worked as an activist, translator, and teacher of English. She lives in Paris.

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24. English convent lives in exile, 1540-1800

By Victoria Van Hyning

In the two and a half centuries following the dissolution of the monasteries in England in the 1530s, women who wanted to become nuns first needed to become exiles. The practice of Catholicism in England was illegal, as was undertaking exile for the sake of religious freedom.

Despite the heavy penalties and risks, nearly 4,000 women joined monastic communities in continental Europe and North America between the years 1540 and 1800, known as the exile period. Until recently, their stories had been virtually unknown — absent from studies of literature, history, art history, music, and theology. But thanks to the recent work of scholars such as Caroline Bowden of the Who were the nuns? project, and its resulting publications, the English nuns in exile are now gaining scholarly attention, individually, as founders, leaders, and chroniclers, and collectively as members of a transnational religious community.

Margaret Clement, 16th century, Nostell Priory, Nr. Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Margaret Clement, 16th century, Nostell Priory, Nr. Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The majority of nuns in the exile period professed (that is, took their vows to enter a religious order) at convents that were founded expressly for English and Irish women. However, in the early decades of exile — in the mid to later-sixteenth century — women such as Margaret Clement (1539-1612), joined established continental houses. Clement, a descendant of Sir Thomas More, rose to prominence at the Flemish Augustinian convent of St. Ursula’s in Louvain, and was elected prioress at the age of thirty, despite being ten years too young to hold the post, and being one of only two English women in that community. She was fluent in Greek, Latin, English, and Flemish, and was renowned for her spiritual guidance and strict regulation at the convent.

The educational accomplishments of Margaret Clement are remarkable, but by no means unique. The majority of “choir nuns” — those responsible for singing the Latin office each day — were required to be Latinate: not merely to be able to sing the words, but to understand them. We find copious examples of well-read women who employed their time translating and composing original devotional works, governance documents, chronicles, and letters. Take, for example, Barbara Constable (1617-1684), the translator and author of spiritual guidance manuals written for nuns, monks, priests, and lay people. From her exile in Cambrai, Constable aspired through her writing to re-establish a sense of Catholic heritage and identity that the Reformation had suppressed. Others include Winefrid Thimelby (1618/19-1690), whose letters — written first as a choir nun at St. Monica’s, Louvain, and later as its prioress — offer insights on religious practice and convent management; and Joanne Berkeley (1555/6-1616), the first abbess of the Convent of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady, Brussels, whose house statutes were used well into the nineteenth century. The learning and accomplishments of these women overturns long-held assumptions by scholars that Catholics were not as well read as their Protestant peers.

Nuns’ surviving literature reveals the difficulties and dangers of exile. Elizabeth Sander (d.1607), a Bridgettine nun and writer of the community of Syon Abbey, was imprisoned at Bridewell in Winchester in 1580 while on a return journey to England. Her crime: possession of Catholic books. Sander escaped several times, once by means of a “rope over the castle wall,” but returned to prison upon the advice of priests who urged her to obey English law. She escaped again, and travelled under a pseudonym to the continent, where she rejoined her community at Rouen, and later wrote about her experience of imprisonment and flight.

Nuns throughout the exile period faced similar perils to those narrated by Sander. The Catholic convert, Catherine Holland (1637-1720), defied her Protestant father and ran away from the family home in England in 1662, in order to join a convent in Bruges where she penned her lively autobiographical conversion narrative. Other nuns, such as the Carmelite Frances Dickinson (1755-1830), travelled to North America to establish new communities, in Dickinson’s case the Port Tobacco Carmel, Maryland. Dickinson’s narrative of her transatlantic journey, undertaken in 1790, is one of the few extant accounts of its kind written by a woman in the eighteenth century.

Mt Carmel Monestery and Chapel, Port Tobacco, Maryland, by Pubdog. Public domain from Wikimedia Commons.

Mt Carmel Monestery and Chapel, Port Tobacco, Maryland, by Pubdog. Public domain from Wikimedia Commons.

Once within their convents, life was often no less exciting for exiled nuns. These were years of political and military turmoil in much of continental Europe. Women religious frequently endured sieges, famine, plagues, and floods, and were sometimes forced to move on in the aftermath of religio-political violence, as in the case of the Irish Poor Clare abbess, Mary Browne (d.1694?), who professed in Rough Lee, before relocating to Galway in 1642 during the English Civil War and then to Madrid after 1653, the year the convent at Galway was dissolved by Cromwell’s forces. Browne’s history of the Poor Clare order offers a lively account of these events and is now the sole surviving chronicle of its kind relating to early modern Ireland.

Convents could also serve as safe-houses or stopping off points for English exiles on the continent. These included not just the friends and family of the nuns, but kings and their courts — including the future Charles II in the 1650s and the Jacobite king-in-waiting, James III — who relied on the generosity and hospitality of several English convents to sustain their time away from Britain. Many exiles bequeathed money, gifts, and relics to the convents, including embalmed hearts, as Geoffrey Scott reveals in his biography of Anne Throckmorton (1664-1734), prioress of the Convent of Our Blessed Lady of Syon, Paris. Throckmorton’s receipt of the hearts of Jacobite “martyrs” is indicative of her support for the Stuart cause, which also saw her petition the French government for penniless political exiles.

Prayer was, of course, central to the nuns’ vocation, but convent life was multifaceted. In the wake of the Reformation, convents in exile offered many opportunities for Catholic women. They could pursue their own education, usually in languages, medicine, and religious studies, and they could also teach, by taking on the roles of novice mistress and school mistress. A notable educationist is Christina Dennett (1730-1781) who, as prioress of the Holy Sepulchre, Liège, expanded the convent’s small school with the intention of providing Catholic girls with “the same advantages which they would have in the great schools in England.” The school’s registers for 1770-94 include the names of 350 pupils from six nationalities, studying a wide range of subjects. Many of the nuns who held teaching positions went on to become financial managers, abbesses, sub-prioresses, and prioresses. In these positions they controlled budgets, built new premises, and commissioned art works. They were integral members of their local communities in continental Europe and America, and to the post-Reformation English and Irish Catholic diaspora.

Of the nearly 4,000 English women religious who went into exile from the mid-sixteenth century, many are known to us only by name. But for some, such as those described here, it is possible to write full biographies thanks to their surviving papers, contemporary accounts and obituaries, and to the notable role they played in creating, defending, managing, and expanding their communities. In several instances their legacy to convent life continues in the survival of their houses, as in the case of Frances Dickinson’s Carmel of Port Tobacco (now located in Baltimore) or the English Augustinian Convent in Bruges, where Catherine Holland professed in 1664.

Other houses, founded in exile, came to England in the mid-1790s as they sought to escape fresh persecution following the French Revolution. Among these was the Benedictine Convent of Brussels (whose first prioress Joanne Berkeley had been installed in 1599) and Our Lady of Consolation, Cambrai, where Catherine Gascoigne had served as abbess for 44 years. The latter, and its 1651-2 Paris filiation, continue today as Stanbrook Abbey, Wass, North Yorkshire and St Mary’s Abbey, Colwich, Staffordshire — as does as Christina Dennett’s convent school at Liège, which is now the New Hall School, Chelmsford.

Dr Victoria Van Hyning is Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow, at Zooniverse, based at the University of Oxford. In 2013-14 she was the advisory editor for the Oxford DNB’s research project on the women religious and convents in exile, and is an assistant editor for English Convents in Exile, 1550-1800, 6 vols. (Pickering & Chatto, 2012-13).

The 20 new biographies of early modern nuns appear as part of the May 2014 update of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is a collection of 59,102 life stories of noteworthy Britons, from the Romans to the 21st century. The Oxford DNB is freely available via public libraries across the UK, and many libraries worldwide. Libraries offer ‘remote access’ allowing members to gain access free, from home (or any other computer), 24 hours a day. You can also sample the ODNB with its changing selection of free content: in addition to the podcast; a topical Life of the Day, and historical people in the news via Twitter @odnb.

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25. Grandfather Gandhi

Grandfather Gandhi  by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus illustrated by Evan Turk Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014 ISBN: 9781442423657 Grades 2-6 The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her public library. Readers of all ages will be inspired by this beautiful picture book memoir co-written by the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. In Grandfather Gandhi, Arun Gandhi recalls leaving South

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