Articles on this Page
- 04/01/15--18:15: _The Historical Nove...
- 04/02/15--16:01: _The Victorian Tatto...
- 04/03/15--22:30: _Here be Griffons - ...
- 04/04/15--23:00: _Orkney: A Historica...
- 04/05/15--16:02: _BEARDS: ANCIENT AND...
- 04/06/15--23:22: _A strange phenomeno...
- 04/07/15--16:30: _'Dead Men Swimming'...
- 03/19/15--04:10: _Taking to the Air: ...
- 03/19/15--17:30: _THE STARS' TENNIS B...
- 03/20/15--17:30: _The Weald and Downl...
- 03/21/15--17:30: _Good Luck Flowers b...
- 03/22/15--17:30: _MUSIC WHILE YOU WOR...
- 03/23/15--17:30: _DALLYING WITH DICE ...
- 03/24/15--17:30: _The Walter Scott Pr...
- 04/08/15--16:30: _Ancient Roman Colou...
- 04/09/15--16:30: _Casanova's recipe f...
- 04/10/15--17:30: _A Medieval Frame of...
- 04/11/15--16:30: _Lt.Henry O.Flipper ...
- 04/12/15--22:00: _TUDOR FICTION: is i...
- 03/25/15--17:01: _An artist's haven b...
- 04/02/15--16:01: The Victorian Tattoo, by Y S Lee
- 04/03/15--22:30: Here be Griffons - by Katherine Langrish
- 04/04/15--23:00: Orkney: A Historical Guide by Caroline Wickham-Jones - Joan Lennon
- 04/05/15--16:02: BEARDS: ANCIENT AND MODERN by Lydia Syson
- 04/06/15--23:22: A strange phenomenon by Adèle Geras
- 04/07/15--16:30: 'Dead Men Swimming' by Karen Maitland
- 03/19/15--04:10: Taking to the Air: More joys of research by Christina Koning
- 03/19/15--17:30: THE STARS' TENNIS BALLS by Ann Swinfen
- 03/20/15--17:30: The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum by Imogen Robertson
- 03/21/15--17:30: Good Luck Flowers by Kate Lord Brown
- 03/22/15--17:30: MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK, by Leslie Wilson
- 03/23/15--17:30: DALLYING WITH DICE - a medieval pastime by Elizabeth Chadwick
- 04/08/15--16:30: Ancient Roman Colour Thesaurus by Caroline Lawrence
- 04/09/15--16:30: Casanova's recipe for chocolate cake - Michelle Lovric
- 04/10/15--17:30: A Medieval Frame of Mind, by Laurie Graham
- 04/11/15--16:30: Lt.Henry O.Flipper by Tanya Landman
- 04/12/15--22:00: TUDOR FICTION: is it all sex and scandal?
- 03/25/15--17:01: An artist's haven by Carol Drinkwater
|Kate Forsyth welcoming conventioneers to the conference (Balmain Town Hall).|
|Colin Falconer giving his keynote address at the HNSA conference|
|Sophie Masson giving the opening keynote address at the State Library of NSW, Sydney.|
|Books on sale at the HNSA conference|
In my recent novel, Rivals in the City, a young gentleman in 1861 jokes about body art: "'Perhaps I'll have your name tattooed on my arm so there's no doubt as to whom I belong', he said, tucking her hand into the crook of his elbow and resuming their steady walking pace. 'What would you say to your initials in Gothic letters, surrounded by scrolls and hearts?'" I loved being able to include this moment of dialogue because it's such a familiar cultural motif for us now. It's another way of bringing the Victorians closer to us, one of the projects at the heart of my fiction. But it's also rooted in a fairly well-documented tradition.
There are brief mentions of tattoos in Victorian literature. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Sybil Vane's brother, James, is identifiable as a sailor because of his tattoos. I believe Sherlock Holmes notices and assigns tattoos the same kind of cultural value. According to wikipedia, it was during Captain James Cook's voyages to Polynesia from the 1760s to the 1780s that the idea of tattoo (from the Tahition word, tatau) was introduced into English culture.
|Apparently the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, a member of Cook's expedition, came back to England with a tattoo. (portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1773)|
By the mid-nineteenth century, tattoos were firmly established as the domain of seamen and soldiers - working-class Englishmen who had travelled widely and come into direct contact with tattoo culture.
Tattoos, however, were about to make an interesting social transition. In 1862, when the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) toured the Middle East, he acquired a tattoo of the Jerusalem Cross.
|The Prince of Wales in Constantinople at the end of his Grand Tour (1862). Somewhere on his body, there is a fresh tattoo. (image via the Royal Collection)|
By 1870, the trend had spread not only amongst the English aristocracy, but into the courts of Russia, Germany and Spain. And beginning in the 1880s, upper-class women also began to sport discreet tattoos. One of the most celebrated was Lady Randolph Churchill, who had a "dainty" and "elaborate" tattoo of a serpent entwining her left wrist.
|Lady Randolph Churchill, with her signature bracelet. (image via NYPL)|
Like all fashion trends, however, tattoos were fairly swiftly brought down by mass imitation.
|Nora Hildebrandt claimed that she was forced by Indians to receive hundreds of tattoos. The truth was more mundane: her father was a tattoo artist. (image via the Human Marvels)|
Once performers like Nora Hildebrandt began displaying her hundreds of tattoos for the horror and delectation of the masses (she travelled as part of P. T. Barnum's American circus), aristocrats promptly lost interest in tattoo art.
I haven't. I've always been intrigued by the idea of a tattoo, yet never been able to choose a single motif or image that I'd want to wear on my body forever. In the meantime, I'll keep reading. May I suggest Margot Mifflin's Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo? To start you off, there are some amazing images pulled from Mifflin's book right here.
Y S Lee is the author of the award-winning Mary Quinn Mysteries (Walker Books). She blogs weekly at www.yslee.com.
Not long ago my mother handed over to me this book, which had been my grandfather's.
I suppose my grandfather must have been given it by someone else - in fact, it must have been handed down for generations. It's an atlas of the classical world, dated 1785: 'Designed for the Ufe of Schools, and of Gentlemen who make the Antient Writers their Delight or Study.'
The maps cover all areas which such Gentlemen might wish to consult while following the journeys of Herodotus, or perhaps the campaigns of Alexander, or the Gallic Wars.
Of course they are deliberately limited to the parts of the world known to ancient geographers: but they aren't themselves ancient. They're drawn to an eighteenth century knowledge of the shapes of coasts and continents.
Like any historical atlas of today, they fit the old stories into what was then a modern frame. Here for example is Mesopotamia, with its squiggly rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates.
But I wanted to go looking for griffons, and in a way I found them. In Book Two of Paradise Lost, Milton describes how Satan launches himself out on his 'Sail-broad Vannes' into the abyss of Chaos:
With winged course ore Hill or moarie Dale,
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stelth
Had from his wakeful custody purloin’d
The guarded Gold...
So - who were the Arimaspians? It turns out they come into the first century 'History of Alexander the Great' by Quintus Curtius Rufus: they were also known as the the Euergetae, the Benefactors, whose kindness had once saved the army of Cyrus the Great of Persia. Alexander, a fan of Cyrus, respected these people for assisting his hero, and also for their laws and customs which the 2nd century historian Arrian reports 'had as good a claim to fairness as the best in Greece.' Nothing, sadly, about stealing gold from griffons. That's left to Herodotus, in Book 4 of his History: 'Aristeas ... son of Caystrobius, a native of Proconnesus, says in the course of his poem that wrapt in Bacchic fury he went as far as the Issedones. Above them dwelt the Arimaspi, men with one eye; still further, the gold-guarding griffins; and beyond these, the Hyperboreans, who extended to the sea.'
Wow. They have only one eye, and still succeed in robbing griffons? But here they are, the Ariaspae, Euergetae, halfway down the map on the left-hand side.
Pliny the Elder describes them: "The Anthropophagi, whom we have previously mentioned as dwelling ten days' journey beyond the Borysthenes, according to the account of Isigonus of Nicæa, were in the habit of drinking out of human skulls, and placing the scalps, with the hair attached, upon their breasts, like so many napkins."
It doesn't sound impossible, but I feel that Ammianus Marcellinus was embroidering when he adds: "And these men are so avoided on account of their horrid food, that all the tribes which were their neighbours have removed to a distance from them. And in this way the whole of that region to the north-east, till you come to the Chinese, is uninhabited." Although that's the China Sea, there, at the eastern edge of the map...
I've always had a soft spot for the Anthropophagi since first meeting them in The Sword in the Stone: Robin Hood explains,
Sir John Mandeville knew of creatures like these, living in the Island of Dodyn - not to be found anywhere in my maps, alas - and had more to say on griffons, this time from Bactria, north of the Arimaspians:
'In that land are trees that bear wool, as it were sheep, of which they make cloth. In this land are ypotains that dwell sometimes on land, sometimes on water, and are half a man and half a horse, and they eat naught but men, when they may get them. In this land are many gryffons, more than in other places, and some say they have the body before as of an Egle, and behind as a Lyon, and it is trouth, for they be made so, but the Griffen hath a body greater than viii Lyons and ... worthier than a hundred Egles. For certainly he will bear to his nest flying, a horse and a man upon his back... for he hath long nayles on his fete, as great as it were hornes of Oxen, and of those they make cups there to drink of, and of his rybes they make bowes to shoot with.'
Ypotains equal hippos, I suppose - and the wool growing on trees, might that be cotton - or even silkworms? Then why not griffons?
This is not the first occasion I've indulged my delight in guide books and Orkney (see The Elevated Limpet) but this time I've brought things right up-to-date.
Caroline Wickham-Jones is an experienced archaeologist who has worked on and written about sites across Scotland and Scandanavia. Her Orkney: A Historical Guide was first published in 1998 and has been updated and re-issued a number of times since then. Wickham-Jones' clear writing, expertise and obvious enthusiasm for her subject make her brand-new 2015 Guide a must-read for anyone drawn to this approximately 70-island-strong historical treasure trove.
There is so much to see, and one of the confusing things about visiting Orkney is the way remains from so many different historical periods often sit cheek-by-jowl in the landscape. Wickham-Jones'Guide is extremely helpful in separating the layers out, starting with a series of maps, which show:
Bronze Age, Iron Age and Pictish sites
Norse and Scottish Earls sites
18th- and 19th-century sites
The chapters of the book take the same approach, with an overview for each block of time and then a description of sites of interest - and accessibility. She also explores the effects of geography on the Orkney Islands' history. The power of the winds, the fertility of the soil, the lack of trees and the easily splittable sandstone rock - all have their place in the way human life here was shaped and preserved.
I would thoroughly recommend this Historical Guide for your reading and research pleasure - and I would also thoroughly recommend using it on a visit to Orkney. Orkney may seem a bit out-of-the-way (though you can't really see the edge of the world from there, as Pytheas of Marseille claimed in 330 BCE). But for a large part of her 10,000 years of habitation, the sea roads made her nearer to being at the heart of things than the edge. Granted those roads were treacherous* and, as Wickham-Jones says,
"Rather like a six-lane motorway today, you have to know what you are doing, but the northern seas could lead you directly to your destination and provide varied benefits in the form of sheltered harbours and plentiful supplies."
Reading her book, I defy you not to be convinced that those "plentiful supplies" include history preserved in abundance, to excite the imagination and furnish us with thoughts and ideas, whether as readers, writers or historians.
* Don't worry - the roads to Orkney are much safer now.
Caroline Wickham-Jones'Orkney: A Historical Guide
pub. Birlinn Books
pub. date 12 March 2015
(With a YA novel inspired by Skara Brae coming out next month, and therefore at too late a stage to change anything, I approach all archaeological writing on my period with some uneasiness ... I'll be talking more about that next time!)
Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.
Looking around my neighbourhood, I feel she can’t be entirely right. The beards have been moving in for a few years now. Around the same time as the London orbital came our way – something between the train and the tube, and an excellent thing for us transport-deprived South-East Londoners – an explosion of facial hair (and fixies) took place in and around the local bars and cafés. Young beards. In fact, I notice, intrigued, not unlike Communard beards.
|Photograph: Brock Elbank|
|Photograph: Brock Elbank|
The Beard exhibition at Somerset House has now closed but Mr Elbank’s brilliant contemporary beards can be seen in all their glory on Tumblr and will give you a good idea of what I'm talking about. Beardseason, the Australian-born campaign to raise awareness of melanoma which was the start of this portrait series, continues to go from strength to hirsute strength. To support it, I bring you a small selection of inspirational facial hair from nineteenth-century France, complete with links to more information about the revolutionaries (and one reactionary) sporting them.
Courbet himself (photographed by Nadar):
…more than once…here he is again, this time escaping from New Caledonia (4,500 Communards were deported to the Pacific penal colony after the fall of the Commune):
I hope readers of this blog will indulge me. I recently wrote this essay about one of my literary heroines, Dorothy Whipple, and because I am keen for as many people to read her as possible, I'm posting it on this blog which is my public forum, as it were. It's quite long...if you don't want to read it, that's fine, but please heed the message: READ DOROTHY WHIPPLE"S NOVELS. They are all published by the admirable Persephone Books, whose beautiful dove grey covers and carefully-chosen endpapers make each volume a 'thing of beauty and a joy forever.' I have taken photos of some of them and interspersed them here, to break up the text a bit.
St Michael’s is a tiny church, built 1,100 feet above sea level, on the top of a tor on Dartmoor, and surrounded by the remains of an iron age hill-fort. The base of the tor is often wreathed in mist, so that church appears to be floating on a cloud. It looks more like a watch tower than a church and many believe that was originally why it was built up there, to act both as chantry chapel and as a beacon because it can be seen as far away as Plymouth Haven.
‘Brent’ as well as meaning ‘rock’, also means a loud or strident voice and sometimes the winds blew so hard on the top of the tor that the priest’s voice couldn’t be heard however loudly he shouted. The
Churches built over ancient burial grounds, sacred springs or sites of pre-Christian worship where the gods of the underworld and the gods of the air met, were often dedicated to St. Michael. Being an archangel, he has wings, like the old gods of the air, but in medieval times he was thought to guard the gates of Hades, far below the earth. Dedicating a church to him, may have been an attempt to wean the locals off their traditional gods by substituting a saint that was
A survey carried out a few years ago revealed that more supernatural events were recorded in medieval churches named St Michael than in all of the churches dedicated to other saints. If that is true, it may well be because of the strange quirks of the landscape where the St Michael’s churches are built, which is also why those places were regarded as sacred or magical in ancient times.
As this is certainly the case in St. Michael de Rupe. There is very little earth up on the tor, and wherever the sextons put a spade in the ground, a spring welled up. So in medieval times, or so the story goes, coffins were placed in the crypt, which was only opened when new corpse was to be interred. So you can imagine the consternation of people when on several occasions they opened the crypt to discover the coffins had moved and in some cases, the dead appeared to have clambered out of their coffins and were found lying near the door as if they’d tried to claw their way out.
"Paid for a book to noat ye names of strange ministers - 3d"
Was that to ensure those ‘strange’ ministers never got invited to preach again?
If this is typical, perhaps it’s another reason why spirits of the other kind are so often seen at St Michael’s churches.
We are merely the stars’ tennis-balls, struck and bandied
Which way please them.
John Webster (1580?-1625?), The Duchess of Malfi, IV.iv.52
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Julius Caesar, I.ii.134
It seems appropriate on this astronomically important day, which sees the spring equinox and an eclipse of the sun, to take a brief look at the relationship between celestial bodies and humankind.
The two quotations above from near contemporary Renaissance dramatists reflect two diametrically opposed views: is our fate determined at our birth by certain conjunctions of the stars, or is our fate in our own hands? It is the age-old dispute between predestination and freewill, which has torn mankind apart in violent religious disputes. If it is less bitter nowadays, it is perhaps because we live in a largely secular society.
When for thousands of years humans lived in a world free of light pollution, it is little wonder that they looked up at a night sky peopled by a changeable moon and wheeling stars and believed that their own lives must be inextricably linked to these distant and unknowable bodies. Early peoples developed extensive astronomical knowledge, as demonstrated by their monuments like
and Maes Howe:
Tales of the gods living amongst the celestial bodies must have existed long before writing and are firmly embedded in the traditions of all early nations. The Greeks saw and named images in the patterns of the stars which we still recognise today in the symbols of the Zodiac.
The wise men, coming from the east, were led to the birthplace of Jesus by a wandering star, which may have been a comet.
Comets, even more than fixed stars, evoked wonder by their seeming visitations from some incomprehensible Elsewhere and by their mysterious transit of the heavens. Surely they must foretell some joyous event or – more likely – disaster. The Norman invasion of
Even more terrifying is an eclipse of the sun, when (depending on your religion) the sun is gobbled up and spat out by some monster, or the hand of God blots out the sun as a warning to mankind of His power and mankind’s helplessness. According to Virgil, there was an eclipse of the sun on the day Julius Caesar was murdered:
If our fate is somehow tied up with the movement and positions of the stars, especially at the moment of our birth, then surely a man skilled in reading the heavens can help us make sense of our lives, warn us of times and places to avoid, inform us of appropriate dates for important ceremonies, even foretell our death. The art of drawing up astrological charts was known to the Romans and persisted right through the Renaissance and beyond, until the development of science in the late seventeenth century and the eighteenth century Age of Enlightenment cast scorn on such beliefs.
Simon Foreman, apothecary, alchemist, astrologer and serial rapist was a contemporary of our dramatists Shakespeare and Webster. He made a very comfortable living out of the preparation of astrological charts for his clients, who came from every walk of life. (At any rate, those who could afford his fees.)
Another contemporary, Dr John Dee, mathematician, mystic, book collector, alchemist, astrologer, and amanuensis to angels, cast charts for the greatest in the land. Queen Elizabeth I chose the most auspicious date for her coronation based on his advice, and she was a woman of immense intelligence and learning. It was not merely the ignorant and gullible who believed in the influence of the stars.
Today, of course, we know better. Or do we? Why, then, do magazines and newspapers persist in publishing predictions based, it is claimed, on reading the stars? And it seems that the ancient debate about predestination versus freewill must continue for ever.
By the way, I’m a Libra, so that must mean that I am a rational, well-balanced person, mustn’t it?
bookshop. The library and its staff are also lovely. I know that because I was there on Thursday talking about historical crime fiction with Laura Wilson and Ben Fergusson. I was very glad to be invited, then became frankly over-excited when I realised I now had an excuse to stay the night and visit the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum the following day.
In many parts of the world, from the Arabian Peninsula to North Africa, South East Asia, India and Pakistan the dried and milled leaves of Lawsonia inermis the mignonette tree, also known as the Egyptian privet, are prized. The small shrub has fragrant white or reddish flowers, but it is the elliptical leaves which are mixed with lemon juice and essential oils to produce a cooling, scented paste which imparts an intense rust red dye for the skin and hair.
The word henna comes from the Arabic hinna. Originating in the Middle East, and sometimes called mehndi or mehendi, adorning the body with henna paste is a tradition dating back thousands of years. Here, at fetes and children's parties it is as common to find a henna artist as a facepainter in the UK or US.
Henna plays an important part in celebrations throughout the year, such as Eid, but it is central to traditional weddings. The night before the wedding is known as laylat ul henna - the night of henna. Artists from a local salon are booked to come to the house of the bride to adorn the women. The paste is ground fresh from the leaves, or applied ready mixed in cones of coloured cellophane rather like piping bags for icing cakes. The tips are cut away to a fine point to allow the artist to deftly paint the designs, squeezing the henna paste through the tube. They are incredibly skilful - I bought a couple of tubes from the local supermarket to have a go at home, and it looked nothing like this:
Henna symbolises good luck and health, and it is traditional in the Arabian Gulf for the bride to wear a green gown embroidered with gold on henna night - a symbol of new life and abundance. The guests throw petals and money in celebration, and enjoy music and dance. The bride, her female relations and friends settle down to relax and talk as the henna artists paint the intricate patterns on their hands and feet. The process can take hours, during which the person receiving the design cannot move in case the paste smudges. It is an intimate and calming ritual, which necessitates the bride being still and surrounded by the support of her closest female friends and relations, no doubt an excellent practice for pre-wedding nerves. I remember having an intricate tribal pattern applied a few years ago, sitting next to a fully veiled local woman who was having her legs covered from thigh to ankle in ornate flowers. Perhaps it is a way of expressing yourself when so much is forbidden, and hidden.
It is important to let the paste set and dry - the mud will eventually flake away to reveal the patterns. Sugar and lemon juice can be dabbed on the design to intensify the colour and make the pattern last longer. At first the design will be a light ochre colour, but overnight it deepens to a rich brown. The design is only temporary, and therefore acceptable to Islamic tradition (which forbids permanent tattoos). The intricate floral patterns of khaliji henna will fade gradually over a period of up to three weeks, a lasting reminder to the wearer of family, celebration and good luck.
Music affects me in two ways when I’m writing. Firstly, there’s the music that actually occurs in the novel – a lot of Django Reinhart and Louis Armstrong in Last Train from Kummersdorf . When I was writing Saving Rafael, I had a cd called ‘Berlin by Night’ which contained popular music from Germany in the Nazi period. Not, I hasten to add, Nazi songs, but songs ranging from ‘Lili Marleen’ to disguised jazz, given a German title and lyric to make it more acceptable to the authorities. It has ‘Es geht Alles Vorüber’, the smash hit of the end of the war, the one that people played over and over again. Its message: ‘Everything passes, everything goes by, and every December is followed by May’ annoyed Propaganda Minister Goebbels – not martial enough – but that made no difference. My mother associated it, bitterly, with the letter she got telling her her first love had been killed in action – but she did have her Maytime after all, when she met my British father.
And yet – the scene where my young hero reaches across the table and starts playing with Jenny’s fingers comes, not from any of those contemporaneous songs, but from Tchaikowsky’s Violin Concerto (in D Major, I believe). I’d been wondering how to write that scene just before I was taken abruptly into hospital to have a tumour taken out of my spine. The second night after my surgery, I had a dreadful moment when I woke up and thought: ‘Somebody’s in pain,’ and then realised it was me – just as authors describe in many novels, and I always thought they’d made it up! But the thing that made me cry was that I thought I’d lost my novel. I got some more opiates from the nurses, calmed myself down – they were dealing with an emergency in the room and the last thing they needed was an author agonising – and then the next morning I was listening to the Tchaikowsky on my personal stereo and suddenly I was in the Café Kranzler again. I’d found the novel! Such a relief, because honestly, it was an awful moment, and I realised how important a companion the novel I’m working on is to me.
Tchaikowsky wrote the concerto as a love-letter to a young violinist – who didn’t reciprocate his affection – but it is the most passionate, flirtatious, wonderful bit, and the part of the slow movement I was listening to was just like someone playing with their loved one’s fingers. I had something to write on, so I reached out – I had to lie flat in bed – and scrawled it down.
There’s a jazz cd by Abdullah Ibrahim called ‘Water from an Ancient Well’ that my brother gave me, that I played over and over again while I was writing Kummersdorf.
Music so often releases something in me, and it’s vitally important to me for that reason. I can’t imagine writing without music. If I didn’t have any of the machines that are our personal musicians nowadays, I’d have to sing for myself, or relearn to play the piano and play every morning, as Jane Austen did. Perhaps that would be better, who knows?
But I’m a twentieth/twenty-first century writer, though I write historical fiction. My childish imagination was fired by ‘Music and Movement’ and by the stacks of wonderful glossy records, ‘78s, that lived in our house in Kendal – my parents didn’t have a lot of money, so I guess these were left over from a YMCA jumble sale, since my Dad worked for the YM and the house was a YM house. We lived over the office. Anyway, I have wonderful memories of my brother and me, on wet Lake District days, putting on The Night on Bald Mountain, and dancing excitedly to it. And that music surfaced years later when I wrote my novel about a witch persecution in the 17th century, Malefice.
|Two men playing at a dicing table. Detail from the Prodigal Son window at Bourges Cathedral|
Note that the chap on the right has no money and is down to his underpants.
I do not wish, nor am I able to lend him anything of mine for he is an inveterate dice player and he loses everything that he gambles... He goes on to say that any money lent to the kinsman will disappear the same way and 'those who were with him in the tavern when he lost (either 10 marks, shillings or pounds)...gained everything, right down to his underpants (braccas).
Plainly gambling away one's wherewithal has been a folly for as long as dice have been around (and probably longer. I hazard that cavemen gambled the odds with bones or stones), but my concern is with the medieval aspect of the the vice.
Gambling with dice seems to have largely been a male folly. Men were mostly the ones with access to the cash and more leeway to go out losing it. It was a game associated with drinking, and tended to have a rough, macho element to it. It could lead to rowdiness, violence and - as in the case of the above mentioned young man - nudity! Men would get drunk, wager all their money followed by their clothes and possessions. This is alluded to in many works of literature of the period. Wace, writing of a dice game in the Roman de Brut of 1155 describes it in very similar terms to the above. The man who sat down to play clothed, might arise naked at the close of play.'
Another literary source, the Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal, completed in 1226, reveals that dice were used to settle disputes. The argument below is settled by a simple game called 'Highest Points.'
The poem's hero, William Marshal had won a horse at a tourney but was having trouble obtaining it from its erstwhile owner. In the end, after some discussion, the men agreed to play dice for the animal. 'Let the horse...be the sole property of the man throwing the highest score with three dice. Isn't that the way? Shall it be so?'
The men agree and 'Three dice were brought which quickly slipped out of the hand as soon as they were thrown.'
Which makes one wonder if there were dice that didn't slip out of the hand so easily and if such dice were fixed.
As it happened, the other man threw a nine and the Marshal threw eleven, so he won the horse, which is as one would expect from a tale lauding our hero!
The main dice games of the Middle Ages were 'Highest Points' (plus poins) played as above mentioned with three dice thrown onto a dicing board or table - highest score takes all, Then there was ''Raffle' also played with 3 dice. In the latter the hope was to throw all three dice alike, or failing that, to throw a pair with a higher value than one's opponent. Hazard was a dice game very popular from the thirteenth century onwards and the ancestor of the modern game of craps. Its name came from the Arabic word 'al-zahr' meaning a die. It was played like the other with three dice. There is only one thrower per round who is decided by agreement of the other players, or by all the players throwing the dice to see who goes first. If the player with his first throw scores a 3,4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17 or 18, then those scores are called 'hazards' and he wins. If he scores them with his second throw, however, he loses. If neither his first or second score is a 'hazard' it is called a 'chance' and will be anything between 7 and 14. He goes on playing until either his first score or second score comes up again. If it's his first score he wins. If it's his second, he loses.
|A replica die owned by the author.|
Bone with a ring and dot design.
We know from the pipe rolls that King John enjoyed gaming. He gave his illegitimate brother William Longespee money so that he could gamble. and in the summer of 1210 John could be found whiling away the time on his Irish campaign by wagering at dice. He'Lent to to Robert de Ros for play, when he played with Warine FitzGerold at Carlingford, and the King was his Partner, £1.17s 4d whereof he returned 14s 8d. Also to the same Robert £1. 0s 4d when he played with the same Warine, and the King was again his partner in the game. (Praestita roll, 12th year of King John).
There is a tale from the medieval French Fabliaux in which a minstrel is brought into hell by a demon and left in charge of all the souls there while the devils go out looking for more. St. Peter turns up in their absence and plays dice with the minstrel until he wins all the souls the latter is supposed to be watching for the devils and promptly leads them out of hell and up to heaven. The minstrel is in dire trouble when the devils return to find the place empty. They decide he's a rotten servant and throw him out. He runs all the way to heaven and St. Peter lets him in, and that, says the tale is why minstrels, among other rogues and gamblers are refused entry into hell!
|A game of dice chess. The Prodigal Son Window Chartres Cathedral. Again, no money and he's|
lost most of his clothes!
|Dice and shaker. Museum of London.|
The dice themselves were generally rather small and usually carved from bone with ring and dot patterns marking out the six sides. They are frequent finds on archaeological dig sites. The dice were sometimes fraudulent. The set above which can be seen in the Museum of London are all fixed. Three only have high numbers and three only low. The rest are weighted with mercury to fall the same way every time. The pewter shaker in which they were found was originally a pot for birdseed.
Although it is often said that the past is a different country, I am often struck by the similarities between then and now. Some things are hard wired. My personal view is that the past is the same country, but just a few bus stops further back. Crane our necks that little bit further, and we can catch sight of our ancestors in the distance. Gambling has gone digital in a huge way and TV programmes bombard us with late night adverts to be cool and get down to the online casino. Where presumably some of us, in the grip of too much wine and adrenaline will end up losing our virtual underwear!
Elizabeth Chadwick is the author of several best-selling novels set in the Middle Ages including THE GREATEST KNIGHT about William Marshal and THE SUMMER QUEEN and THE WINTER CROWN about Eleanor of Aquitaine. She is currently working on her third novel in the Eleanor trilogy THE AUTUMN THRONE.
The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis
The Zone of Interest is a terrifying book by a writer who inhabits his subject with passion. The foul details of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz Birkenau (called Kat Zet in the novel), are gut churning in their reality. Only the sickest imagination could have conjured up the scenes Amis portrays, but no imagination brought them into being. This is not a fantasy. The horrors are real. The Zone of Interest is a historical novel, written with respect for its terrible subject.
The Lie by Helen Dunmore
Daniel Bramwell, a young man without a family, returns to his native Cornwall for want of anywhere better to go. He is given a rudimentary shelter by Mary Pascoe, an old woman in her last illness, and he sets about growing vegetables on her patch of land. When she dies, he follows her request and buries her in her own garden. The small lies that he is forced to tell become greater and greater and soon dominate his life.
Suffering from guilt and shell-shock, Daniel is haunted by his memories, particularly by his failure to save the life of Frederick Dennis, his childhood friend and "blood brother" who had become his commanding officer. Frederick appears to him in nightmares, reeking of earth, "exposed in all its filth, corrosive, eating away at the bodies that had to live in it."
But there is more than horror in this novel. There is tenderness in Daniel's care for old Mary Pascoe, in his attempt to bring her garden back to life, and above all in his growing friendship with Felicia, Frederick's sister, who is herself wounded by grief and loss.
Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre
Opinions will be divided on the eruption of the twentieth century into the text, via special powers enjoyed by Venetia's husband Sir Kenelm, but they are all part of the fun in this youthful and hugely enjoyable novel.
In the Wolf's Mouth by Adam Foulds
Adam Foulds has spun an intricate web of lives, in which the forces unleashed by war draw everyone out of their familiar worlds. Forced to operate in strange and shifting circumstances, the characters each bring with them the baggage of the worlds from which they come, and inevitably collide in misunderstandings.
Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut
Arctic Summer is a book of profound compassion and sensitivity. It recreates the inner life and emotions of Morgan Forster (E.M.Forster), his yearning for romance and affection, and the lonely agony of being homosexual (a "minorite" in Forster's words) in a hostile and unsympathetic world.
The book draws heavily on Forster's own diaries and letters and Galgut's depth of research is impressive, but it is a novel, not a fictionalised biography. The long, unproductive years between Howard's End and A Passage to India are fully imagined, and the characters who inhabit Forster's life and emotions are vivid and touching.
The novel follows Forster's slow progression towards the writing of A Passage to India. He embarks on a journey to India to visit his Indian friend Syed Ross Mahmood. His love for Syed is unrequited, and this is a relationship that can never satisfy him. There is more affection in his affair with an Egyptian tram conductor, Mohammed el Adl, and the scenes in both India and Egypt are vividly evoked.
It was on his second visit to India that Forster began to understand the corrupting effect of power on love, as he struggles with his feelings for a barber at the court of the Maharajah of Dewas. Galgut shows how Forster's emotional journeys are preludes to the writing of A Passage to India, surely one of the most profound studies of colonialism, power and love ever written.
As the push for Indian independence gathers momentum, the characters find themselves forced to take sides in the struggle. Here Kamila Shamsie shows her true understanding of what it is like to live through violent civil unrest. Events, like shards of broken glass, are fragmentary. They follow each other at frightening speed, and it's only afterwards that the pieces can be put together and some kind of picture revealed.
At its heart this is a story of betrayal, broken loyalties and the crumbling of empires under the onslaught of war, big themes brilliantly illuminated in this ambitious novel.
The Ten Thousand Things by John Spurling
The central character of this mesmerising novel is Wang Meng, a bureaucrat who lived in the fourteenth century during the final years of the Yuan dynasty, as a new Ming emperor swept away the old and brought a new dynasty to power. But Wang Meng was also a master painter, some of whose exquisite landscape paintings are still treasured in China today.
Wang Meng sought a quiet life, wishing to devote himself to the creation of works of art, a process which John Spurling follows in passages of serene beauty. But China is in turmoil and the artist is inevitably pulled into the maelstrom, meeting along the way powerful characters such as the White Tigress, a warrior queen, other master painters devoted to their art, and a restless young monk who will rise to the heights of power. Others spring to life: Wang Meng's beloved servant Deng, Jasmine the good-time girl, and the Emperor Zhu himself.
In spite of the stirring events it portrays, there are no literary histrionics in The Ten Thousand Things. The writing is spare, enriched with perfectly placed details and a vivid sense of place, so that fourteenth century China unrolls before us like one of Wang Meng's painted scrolls.
"At the entrance of Trimalchio's townhouse stood the doorkeeper, decked out in grass green and belted with a cherry-red sash. He was shelling peas on a silver platter. Above the threshold hung a golden cage in which a particoloured magpie greeted all those who entered."
The Satyricon of Petronius XXVIII
I love these lines from Petronius's Satyricon – a book written in Latin 2000 years ago in the age of Nero – because they give us a wonderfully vivid snapshot of a scene from ancient Rome. Or perhaps instead of snapshot I should say gif because you get a shudder of animation as you read it.
You can almost see the door-slave in bright green with the red sash, perhaps leaning against the doorframe, cradling the silver platter in the crook of his left arm while he uses his right hand to shell the darker green peas with little pops. Above his head swings the golden cage with the chattering magpie inside, fluttering his white and petrol blue wings.
In those two Latin lines are colour, movement, taste, sound, smell and humour. All elements, incidentally, that memory masters like Tony Buzan encourage us to use when we want to fix something in our memory.
I love colours and the words that describe them. I especially love colour-words with attached synaesthetic qualities: movement, scent, sound.
Peacock blue shimmers.
Rose pink smells delicious.
Silver makes me think of bells.
Best of all are colours associated with taste: chocolate, vanilla, tomato, peanut butter, mocha, orange, whisky and bubblegum. Yum.
But wait! I write historical fiction and all the taste-colour words I just listed are anachronistic because none of them existed in Imperial Rome.
What to do?
Taking a leaf out of Petronius's codex, I started using taste-colours that the Romans would have known about: nutmeg-coloured tunic, sea-green eyes, tawny hair, etc.
Procrastinating one day by surfing Twitter, I came across this Writers' Color Thesaurus, a visual prompt to "help you name any color imaginable".
Because I don't quite agree with all the shades, I thought it would be fun to make my own Pinterest scrapbook of colours that would be allowed in Roman times.
Because I am linking the colour to an object, I get a special flavour (sometimes literally) for each colour. So a visual thesaurus like this is great for poets as well as writers of historical fiction.
Here are some of the tasty colours I've uploaded: nutmeg, cinnamon, peach, pear, mulberry, grape, pomegranate, pear green, cherry, pistachio, cream, milk, whey, clove, celery and almond.
Here are some luxury colours: gold, amber, silver, amethyst, green bronze, lapis lazuli, ivory, cinnabar red, egyptian blue, emerald green and frankincense.
Here are some textured colours: charcoal grey, dove grey, peacock blue, rust orange, tawny, moss green, egg yolk yellow, eggshell beige, bran and mud.
Here are some fragrant colours: pine green, violet, mint, salmon, beeswax, sardine, lavender and grass.
Here are some sinister colours: blood red, bone white and coal black.
And as with all good synaesthesia, some colours can do more than one thing. Check out my Ancient Roman Colour Thesaurus. I hope it inspires you to create your own!
Roman Mysteries author Caroline Lawrence has just signed up to write four history-mystery books for kids set in Roman Britain in the year AD 94. With a provisional series title of Seekers of Britannia, the first book, Escape from Rome, will be published in May 2016.
It was Casanova’s birthday this week.
He was born on April 2nd, 1725.
A little celebration was in order, I thought.
A man so gifted in many ways was not adverse to gifts himself. He loved novelty of all kinds.
I gave Casanova words for his birthday. He liked words, and was a great connoisseur of them. He was also keen on oysters, stinking ripe cheese, the smell of a woman’s sweat, but I couldn’t deliver any of those items to his sadly unmarked grave in Bohemia.
My gift was in fact one I’d prepared earlier, and published in my first novel for adults, Carnevale, which tells the story of Cecilia Cornaro, a young portrait painter who becomes one of Casanova’s lovers. I believe it was the first novel written from the point of view of a woman who loved him. The book is about to be reissued by Bloomsbury with a new cover.
I’m not the only one celebrating Casanova at the moment.
My gift of words is to be displayed as part of Il Grande Mosaico, Opus magnum, a collection of tiny canvases on the most controversial of Venetians. Only in this prismatic way can one hope to glimpse even a paltry proportion of the many sides of this fascinating character, who was, in his time, a trainee priest, a necromancer, a violinist, the author of a science fiction novel, a philosopher, a diplomat, an inventor, a spy.
The idea is the masterpiece of Manuel Carrión of the Carrión Gallery, founded in January 2014 at the Giudecca.
Here is how I made my tile.
Obviously, I began with the poem ...
Casanova's Recipe for Chocolate Cake
First, you need the lips to eat it.
Lips of purple heather, lips of persimmon, lips like mandarin skins scraped through honey.
And then the occasion to eat it.
The first time you make love to her, the last time you make love to her, one of the times in between (may they be many, or at least long).
Of course you also need the sweet wine to moisten it.
With the soul of a bottle inside you, your tongue sees more clearly. This is true, be it Falernian, Scopolo, Tokay, Burgundy, pink partridge-eye Champagne, or that liquid chalk they make in Orvieto. No matter. Maraschino from Dalmatia, even, with cinnamon and sugar. Or milk. Once I myself, on my knees, suckled from the rose-pink spigot of a young mother in Milan.
In those days, I had teeth.
Where was I? O yes, chocolate cake.
Then you need a bed.
A bed to lie on, a bed to feed on, sleep on, in which to lose the crumbs to lick off the next morning.
And a surprise is always acceptable, too.
A snuffbox with a secret spring, an unexpected dearth or luxuriance of hair,
a fruit preserved for just this moment,
a virgin who proves as amorous as a pigeon.
Oh, and yes, you need a chocolate cake, too.
Send out for one immediately!
(from Carnevale 2001)
A birthday present needs attractive packaging. So I made my unusual shopping list of images - spigot, breast, chocolate cake, snuffbox ... Then I searched my collection of ephemera to find them. I used to be a packager of illustrated books, so I happen to have useful drawers full of images for 'devices', 'death' and 'body parts'.
Then glued them.
And photographed my tile
And sent it to indefatigable Rosemary Wilmot who’s been kindly coordinating the UK end of operations for the Carrión Gallery. She and her husband Brian had it printed to the right size and mounted on the tile … to go to Venice.
So Happy Birthday, Casanova.
Wish I could blow out your candles.
Here's a sneak preview of the new Carnevale jacket at left.
The Bloomsbury edition is out in June.
You can see all the Casanova tiles here:
30133 Venezia (VE)
+39 335 1587654
+39 328 3526992
This is all well and good and cogently argued, but Miller also takes an opportunity to serve a crushing and sweeping blow to pretty much all other fictional material set in the period. She compares Mantel’s ‘high-brow’ approach with what she disparagingly terms ‘princess novels’ or Tudor set fiction that is focused on women’s lives. Her main point being that such fiction foregrounds lascivious sex and scandal and in so doing makes it no different to schlocky high-school teen dramas.
Philippa Gregory comes in for a particularly contemptuous drubbing, accused of digging out uninteresting female figures from the past and padding out their stories with romance that has no historical validity. Though Miller makes her point well and there is legitimacy to some of what she says, certainly about the gratuitous soft-porn elements of the Showtime series The Tudors, and the wilful manipulation of history in the teen drama Reign, what she overlooks is the serious nature of some of the themes of much Tudor set fiction.
Even the more commercial, romance led, Tudor novels have a profound darkness that makes them a poor comparison to the teen dramas cited. Yes, there are parallels to situations in which young women are living at close quarters and competing for prestige. Miller correctly points out that in such novels much is made of clothing but refrains from exploring the value and symbolic resonance of women’s clothing in these texts. For the Tudors, an upstart family with a tenuous grip on the throne, clothing was a crucial indication of status and thus merits description. Indeed Mantle also employs, to great effect, descriptions of clothing to create a sense of the importance of the outward representation of rank and affiliation through apparel within the courtly arena, where position and allegiance were of primary significance.
The cumbersome clothing women were laced into was also a part of the broader denial of female freedom in much the same way 21st century women living in fundamentalist Islamic communities are required to cover and restrict their bodies. The early modern female body was a precious commodity and was at once expected to be a site of allure and yet also to be contained and kept out of sight to guard its value.
To view such narratives as inconsequential refuses to acknowledge that for these Tudor ‘princesses’ the stakes were vertiginously high. They describe a world in which young women were brutally murdered for political ends and had to negotiate a dangerous path through a male power structure that gave them no agency.
Surely any woman who can gain even a modicum of power in an oppressively misogynist system merits having her story told, and many of the generation of serious historians who are rediscovering such stories would agree. It is unhelpful to regard all such fiction as romantic clap-trap that uses sex as its narrative drive, when marriage was the primary route to power for women. What is noteworthy about these stories is that it becomes impossible to separate sexual and state policy. Princesses are interesting because of, rather than in spite of, the power that was invested in their bodies, and how they used that power makes for fascinating reading.
Early modern women had no freedom, yet they found ways to make themselves heard. For the first time the humanist project, led in England by Thomas More, encouraged education for women, albeit for a limited and privileged cohort, which was surely an important social change that merits our attention. Take Katherine Parr for example, a minor queen of apparently little political importance, but few are aware that she was one of the first women to publish an original text in the English language. At a time when women were obliged to be silent and submissive, to publish religious political texts was an audacious and dangerous act. Indeed these educated females laid the ground for an unprecedented half-century of female rule in England. To say such lives are not worth examining and reduce them to little more than titillating tales, plays into the hands of the misogyny that sought to silence them in the first place.
Because Cromwell’s story is essentially one of social mobility and money, doesn’t automatically invest it with greater legitimacy, as Miller suggests, indeed it could be said that as women’s bodies were a currency traded at the highest level their stories have equal importance from a socio-economic perspective. Social mobility too was mediated through the bodies of women. Consider how the minor landed gentry such as the Seymours and the Parrs became elevated in such a way. These women’s lives provide a vital key in understanding the period, so please let’s not do as David Starkey has long done, and dismiss them as trivial.
For Miller's article:
I have been focusing quite a bit on war recently so I thought for this month’s blog I would choose a subject that is closer to home and of a lighter aspect.
A love story. This true story is set along the Côte d’Azur, the Blue Coast, but it began in the north of France in Lille.
In 1908 in the town of Hazebrouck near Lille a boy, Aimé, was born to a railway employee and his wife, Monsieur et Madame Maeght. At the outbreak of WWI, Monsieur Maeght set off for the war never to return. Worse, the family home was destroyed. Aimé, now six years old, along with his mother and three siblings, was evacuated to the Gard in the south by the Red Cross. Aimé was bright and he was passionate about art, poetry and music. After a brilliant school career, he attended art school in Nimes, but he decided he could not pursue his artistic ambitions because he had the responsibility of his family to consider. He turned instead to the printing trade and decided to study lithography. Once he had gained his engraver’s diploma, he had no difficulty finding himself a job with a printer in Cannes. He was twenty-one years old with, it is reported, “spades of charm”. He joined the choir in the church in the Suquet.
Within a year, he had met a local girl, Marguerite Devaye. She was the daughter of wealthy trades people. They married the following year. He was twenty-three. She, nineteen. In 1930, Adrien, their first son was born. Their lives were blessed. Aimé was bursting with ambition and plans. In 1932, whilst still empoyed at the same printer’s, he opened his own shop near to the famous seafront, La Croisette, and christened it Arte. He began exhibiting paintings in the window. Soon, Aimé’s print shop was also a gallery. Pierre Bonnard, who lived in the hillside village of Le Cannet overlooking Cannes, visited the gallery and requested of Aimé that he colour his lithographs.
Bonnard’s request was the turning point in Aimé Maeght’s life. A friendship between them was born. From hereon, the greatest names in modern art frequented Aimé and Marguerite’s lives.
When the war broke out, Aimé discreetly put his printing presses at the services of the Résistance, whose leader, Jean Moulin, opened a gallery in Nice as a cover for the underground work he was doing. In 1943, when Jean Moulin was arrested (he died from wounds inflicted by the Gestapo on a train to Germany), Bonnard begged the Maeghts to move inland. Their second son, Bernard, had been born the year before. They moved to Le Mas des Orangers, a villa outside Vence. Henri Matisse was a near neighbour. Marguerite sat for Matisse for a series of charcoal paintings.
After the Liberation, the Maeghts, encouraged by their celebrated friends, opened a gallery in Paris, the renowned Galerie Maeght. Aimé soon became one of the twentieth century’s most respected art dealers and art publishers. The Maeght lives were blessed, until tragedy struck.
In 1953 their second son, Bernard, died of leukemia. The couple were, understandably, heartbroken. Fernand Leger advised them to take a trip to America. A month after their son’s death Braque visited Aimé. Here is what Aimé wrote of that visit:
‘When Braque came to see me in Saint-Paul a month after the death of my little boy, I was in the depths of despair. He said, “Since you want to do something that goes beyond the business of art dealing, that you seem to despise, and I understand you, do something here, something without a speculative purpose, that would enable us artists to exhibit sculpture and painting in the best possible conditions of light and space. Do it, I will help you.” ’
"Create something that will live on after you…" encouraged Braque.
And the seed was sown...
Whilst in the United States, the couple visited the private art foundations of Guggenheim, Barnes and Phillips and were very impressed. Although still deep in grief they decided, upon their return, to build a property near their home to house their private art collection. At that time, they were not intending it to be open to the public. It was to be a haven for artists, writers, poets; somewhere to congregate and share their ideas. Miró and Braque in their different ways encouraged the Maeght couple to create a space where exhibitions could be held, where young, lesser known artists could also participate.
La Fourche, or The Fork and the Devil
"The night gradually rises from the hills of Provence, all the way to Miró's Fork and Devil," wrote André Malraux.
A beautiful pine-clad hillside outside the village of Saint-Paul de Vence is the location. The Catalan architect, Josep Lluis Sert, who had just finished designing a studio for Miró in Mallorca, was brought in to assist. However, the local prefecture refused the planning permit. It was only when the Minister of Culture, André Malraux, stepped in that the project was given the green light. Malraux, a writer himself, was a man of passion and vision.
One astounding moment during the preparations for the foundations was the discovery of a ruined chapel on the land. Marguerite saw this a good omen. The Maeght couple restored it and it has been integrated into the labyrinthine structure displaying splendid stained glass windows designed by Braque and Raoul Ubac. It is the Chapel Bernard.
The construction took four years. Artists and workmen picnicked together regularly on the site. Sadly, Braque died the year before completion.
On the 28th July 1964, the Fondation Maeght was inaugurated by André Malraux (also a former member of the French Resistance) who in his opening discourse declared, “this is not a museum”. An accurate observation: It is indeed an indoor/outdoor structure created by the artists and architects themselves, a Mediterranean playground full of joy and colour. A marriage of art and nature. The inauguration dinner was held in the Giacometti courtyard. Ella Fitzgerald and Yves Montand were the evening's concert. The Maeghts had financed everything themselves. It is their monument to their departed son, Bernard. Today, its director is Adrien Maeght, older brother of long-deceased Bernard.
Earlier this week, while still waiting for editorial input on The Last Domain, I decided to give myself a treat. It is spring here, full-blown. warm and flower-filled. A day out on my own seemed long overdue, so I set off for the Fondation Maeght, situated a ten-minute walk outside the ramparts of the medieval village of Saint-Paul. It is in the final throes of celebrating its fiftieth anniversary last year.
Here follow a small selection of the photographs I took at this serene and magical place.
I want to close with an extract from a correspondence sent to Miró from Aimé Maeght:
"Yes, my dear Joan, we will create a unique work in the world that will remain in time and in minds as evidence of our civilization, that through wars, social and scientific upheavals will leave humanity one of the purest spiritual and artistic messages of all time. These are the stories I want to make visible to the generations that follow us and to show our grandchildren that in our very materialistic age the spirit remained present and very effective thanks to men like you."
29th August 1959
Marguerite Maeght died in 1977. Aimé Maeght followed her, his most loyal ally, on 5th September 1981. Both are buried in the cemetery of Saint-Paul de Vence. Chagall lies nearby.
Alongside her octogenarian father, Adrien Maeght, Aimé and Marguerite's granddaughter, Isabelle, presides over the foundation now. It remains a family affair. And, in my opinion, an inspirational love story.