Mrs Macaulay – The Historian In Petticoats – Britain’s First Female Historian

Born Catherine Sawbridge on the 23rd March 1731, she gained an informal education in her father’s library alongside her brother at their family home in Kent. She moved to London in 1760, upon her marriage to Dr George Macaulay and three years later published the first of her extensive eight volume History of England that spanned from the succession of James I to the Revolution. Part way through the third volume of her history, her husband passed away, leaving her widowed with a single daughter (Catherine Sophia) from the marriage. She remained in London for a while, before moving to Bath in 1774 where she met her second husband William Graham. The marriage caused scandal. As the brother of her physician, son of a saddle maker, and only a mere Surgeon’s Mate1, William was considered beneath Mrs Macaulay. They remained together until her death on the 22nd June 1791 at the age of sixty at their home in Binfield on the Thames, near Windsor. In her memory, William dedicated a memorial to her in the local parish church nearby.

Continue reading “Mrs Macaulay – The Historian In Petticoats – Britain’s First Female Historian”

Lost: One Bench #Throwback Thursday

English: Wooden bench at Marriott's Way, Norfolk
English: Wooden bench at Marriott’s Way, Norfolk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘How can you forget where you left it?’ Samantha demanded, shooting Michael a withering look before closing her eyes and counting to ten. In a moment she would let out a deep sighing breath and give Michael her best, why do you insist on embarrassing me stare before ordering another drink from the bar and forgetting the subject altogether.

1,2,3,4-

‘I mean really Michael!’

Michael blinked, confused as to where the last 6 seconds had gone and why she hadn’t ordered a large glass of red wine. She wasn’t following the natural order.

‘It’s a bench!’ Samantha spluttered. ‘You cannot misplace a bench! Especially not one of yours! They’re massive and made of wood. WOOD MICHAEL! WOOD!’

Everyone else in the pub had fallen silent now, the hum of conversation dying as all eyes turned to stare at the couple having the argument. Or rather, Samantha yelling at her bemused husband since Michael rarely said two words to anyone about anything.

‘I could understand a nail or two, perhaps even your level metre, but misplacing a bench is on a whole other level.’

Michael fixed his stare on what was left of his pint as Samantha continued to berate him for losing the garden bench he had made on commission, for Miss Appleway’s new patio. He really didn’t understand why she was so concerned; he would remember where it was and then collect it. Forgetting the rest of his pint he stood up from the table and headed for the door, leaving his wife purple faced and furious.

Hailing a cab he climbed in, sat down, and nodded when appropriate to the driver’s chatter. He didn’t notice the manila folder sticking out from beneath the front seats until he was almost home. Ignoring the driver’s comments on the weather Michael ducked down, and yanked the folder out.

There were three sheets of paper inside, all gibberish and slightly crumpled. There was nothing to say who they belonged to, or what they were about, just block text and narrow margins.

Rolling the folder up, Michael stuck it into his jacket pocket. I didn’t fit of course, but it stayed where he’d put it. In the morning he’d ask around the town and see if anyone had lost three sheets of nonsense.

‘Here we are mate!’ The driver said cheerfully, throwing a grin back over his shoulder as Michael clambered out of the taxi. ‘Nice looking place!’

Pulling out his wallet Michael paid him, watching him drive off before diving into his trouser pocket to search for keys. His house was one of row of terrace building, set back in tiny manicured gardens with box-hedges and gravel paths. What set his and Samantha’s apart from the rest was the array of strange wooden carving dotting the lawn and perching in the hedge.

‘Excuse me Sir?’ The voice came from an older gentleman stood beside the garden gate.

Michael acknowledged sadly that his house keys were not in his pocket and turned to face the man approaching him instead.

‘May I ask where you found that document?’ The man pointed at the folder sticking out of Michael’s pocket.

‘Taxi.’ Michael responded, gazing up at the front of his house and wondering how long it would be before Samantha got back. She’d probably be late home, thinking that it would punish him for abandoning her.

‘Did you read the content?’ The man asked, glancing at the folder in a way that would seem to suggest he was about dash in and snatch it.

Michael shrugged.

‘Utter nonsense.’ he told the man.

The man in the suit sighed. ‘I’ll take that as a yes then. I am terrible sorry for this, but you never can be too careful in these situations.’

Michael nodded, assuming that whatever the man had said required his agreement, he had been more occupied with the splintered window ledge on the second floor.

It would take Samantha another three months before she noticed it, and then another five before it was fixed.

~~~~~

Michael Remmet

Aged 29

Died 17th September 2012

Short-Suffered Husband

Has anyone seen his bench?


Written for the writing challenge on http://outwherethebusesdontrun.com/2012/09/14/prompt-this/

My prompt was “The absent-minded carpenter found the top secret document in the taxi to avoid the argument.”

How To Treat A Borrowed Heart

She gave out her heart like a library book,

not minding if it came back

dog eared, tea stained, well thumbed.

When she handed it to me

I could see the tear stains

left over from previous readings

and didn’t have to ask

if there was going to be a happy ending.

I just took it with care,

did not leave on the windowsill

to collect mould or yellow

in the sun.

I did not cram it,

to the bottom of my bag,

or leave it to shunt for space

with the biros and pencils

left loose and jostling down there.

I kept it well past the return date.

She was surprise when I asked

if she could renew my loan.

Daily Post Prompt: Borrow

Confessions Of A Bookworm

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So the last time I wrote one of these posts was at the end of September which was three months ago. Not great for someone planning to try and write one of these a month but oh well.

What Am I Currently Reading:

A couple of these books have been carried over from September I’ll admit. ‘Between Silk and Cyanide’ and ‘Go Set A Watchman’ just haven’t been grabbing my attention in the last few months and as such they’ve sat lonely on the bookshelves with their bookmarks gathering dust. I will get back to them, I just don’t know when. Hopefully soon.

‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ by Susan Clarke is something of a mammoth read. I borrowed a copy from someone at work to read but I’ve decided to buy my own as it’s taking me forever to get through it and I feel bad hanging into their book for so long. I’m making my way through slowly but I doubt I’ll be finished with it any time soon.

‘A Dance of Chaos’ is the sixth book in David Dalgish’s beautifully violent series ‘Shadowdance’. The previous book in the series was on my September reading list and now this one is on my December. I started reading yesterday and to be honest, I’ll probably finish it before any of the others currently on this list.

I’m only a couple of chapters into ‘The Sentinel Mage’ and I’m finding it tough. The story line has so far failed to grab me and while it’s not a bad book I’m reading it more out of stubbornness than love. Who knows, it might get better as it goes on.

I’ve been meaning to read ‘Blackbirds’ for a while as Chuck Wendig is one of my favourite bloggers on wordpress. I’m a chapter in and so far I really like it. It’s dark and funny which is what I love about he’s blog pieces so I’m looking forward to reading more.

‘Magician’ looks like it’s going to be one of those books that I’ll have to work to get into. It’s nice enough but a bit slow to start.

Finally, ‘The Colour of Magic’ and ‘Dodger’. I have never read a Terry Pratchet book before. Well I did read ‘Good Omens’ but that was joint between him and Neil Gaiman so I thought it might be time to read something purely Pratchet as well. I’m ‘The Colour of Magic’ enjoying it well enough. The idea of a chest with hundreds of little feet protruding from beneath it gives me the shudders but other than that the book occupies the same style of fantasy world that I love. It has the same dry wit that I adore in Gaiman’s writing and it’s just nice to read. Next to ‘A Dance of Chaos’ it’s one of my favourites on the list. ‘Dodger’ is good as well. Pratchett has jammed all these various London based stories that everyone knows into one book and there at the centre is charming Dodger and the extraordinary Charles Dickens.

 

Recently Finished

Over the last few months I have read some fantastic books. Books that have made me genuinely happy to hold in my hands.

Firstly! ‘Snow Like Ashes’ and ‘Ice Like Fire’ by Sara Raasch. The moment I finished ‘Snow Like Ashes’ I was on Amazon to buy ‘Ice Like Fire’. Granted, I saw the revelation of the first book coming long before the end, but the second one had me practically screaming at it by the last chapter. In some ways I’d say the second is better than the first just because it managed to keep me in the dark so much longer.

‘The Ocean At The End of The Lane’ by Neil Gaiman. Do I need to even explain why this book makes me happy? Granted, it’s not quite the same as ‘Stardust’ or ‘Neverwhere’, but for me it was a great book. I love that it started out as a short story for his wife to try and show her what his childhood was like and by the end he’d accidentally written a novel. Reading it brought back a few memories of my own childhood, and as always, magic was woven through every page. Neil Gaiman is very much one of my favourite authors of all time.

Helen Lowe’s ‘The Gathering of the Lost’ and David Daglish’s ‘A Dance of Ghosts’ are the only two books on Septembers ‘I am reading’ list that actually got read. I spent the first half of ‘The Gathering of the Lost’ a bit confused and the second half raving about how cleverly it was written. I have never seen the a writer write in the same way as Helen Lowe does in this book and it was nice to read something unique.

David Daglish’s ‘A Dance of Ghosts’ has the same fast paces, brutal attraction to it as all his other works. Whenever I’m stuck writing a fight scene I refer back to him, which often means I’m a couple of hours from returning to writing, but I’d say it’s worth it.

I put of reading ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ by Sarah J Mass and I’m not sure why. I love her ‘Throne of Glass’ series but I never felt the need to pick up this book of hers. Once I did I couldn’t put it down. It’s been a while since I was as genuinely excited to get home and dive into a book as I was when reading this one. I was counting down the hours at work so I could get home and read another chapter. I adored it. Even better was the fact that when I reached the end I realised it wasn’t a stand alone and there would be even more! Sarah J Mass, I don’t know how you do it, but your books make me so happy.

‘City of Heavenly Fire’ by Cassandra Clare.

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Hay Festival 2012?

Okay, this was another mammoth book and the last in a series as well. At over 700 pages long you have to be willing to put in the time for this one.

Cassandra Clare’s books are another favourite of mine but this one had been sat on the shelf for a few month with the book mark only about 100 pages in. This week I decided I was going to get it read. It took two days of curling up on the sofa with more pillows and blankets than normally socially acceptable and many, many cups of tea. It was bliss.

The length of the books means that there was more than enough time for everything to happen that needed to happen. There was no rushing and unlike some shorter books, I didn’t put it down and feel that overwhelming sadness that the series had finished. In some ways the length of the book allowed me to come to terms with the collection ending. I felt satisfied with how everything ended and I admired how not everything was tidied up with a neat bow. It was a realistic ending, not a fairy tale one.

I tend to think that I prolong reading final books just because I don’t want a series to end. There is always something slightly traumatic about saying goodbye to the characters you love.

 

What I’m Reading Next

I’m not 100% what I’ll read next. There are a number of books coming out in 2016 that I’m desperate to get my hands on but whether or not I’ll finish my current reading list and have time before they arrive is another matter. At the moment these ones are the ones I’m most keen to get on to next: