Showing posts from July, 2020

George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) 1804-1876

George Sand (née Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) (1804-1876) shone brightly as one of very few 19th century female authors. Born into a world where only men could be writers, she often imitated them in dress and manner by wearing pants and smoking cigars. She relentlessly pursued of her wants: writing, lovers, and family. Along with novels, she wrote urging reforms to better the lives of the poor and working class, gain suffrage for men and women, and capture equal rights for women.  Early in her life, she inherited her grandmother’s estate, Nohant, in Central France. Married only once, she took many lovers, including Frederic Chopin, with whom she had a nine-year affair. They shared a passion for the arts—he for the piano and she for literature—although their discussions traveled far and wide. That bond kept them together well beyond Chopin’s “usefulness” as a satisfying companion due to his debilitating tuberculosis. Although their breakup was harsh and long in coming, Sand tended to h

Those Not-So Wicked Sporting Ladies of the Wicked West - Pearl DeVere

A hundred years ago they were known as soiled doves, frail sisters, bawds, painted ladies, scarlet women,  fille de joie , molls, courtesans, concubines, sporting woman, denizens, strumpets, adventuresses, working girls, tarts, unfortunates, the demimonde, the tenderloin, shady ladies, jezebels, harridans and harlots, among many other names, and more often than not, were residents of a brothel, red-light district, parlor house, seraglio, hog ranch, crib, harem, the Line, whorehouse, bordello, or a bawdy house.  Many of these ladies of the night had fallen unintentionally – and many intentionally -- into the sporting life as it was typically known, wishing to obscure their true names, origins and backstories, making it virtually impossible to ever reliably unravel their individual and occasionally, lurid histories. In most western frontier towns where men significantly outnumbered women -- a ratio of at least 20 to 1 and typically far greater -- prostitutes were considered an essential,

The Pioneer Women of California - Ellen VanValkenburgh, Emily Williams, and Eva VanValkenburg

Left to Right:  Eva, Emily, Elle  Before California became a state, pioneers from all over the world brought their dreams of the future there. It was a time of opportunity for everyone willing to work. Women were no different. Even though it wasn’t called women’s rights at the time, many women in early California fought for their own futures and affected the futures of all who came after. Three of these women are featured in my historical novel Under the Almond Trees. Ellen VanValkenburgh came West from New York during the Gold Rush. She and her sister sailed not around the horn but upriver through Nicaragua, then overland to the Pacific on muleback. Her journal from that trip is extraordinary. They even wore bloomers when riding the mules! In California, Ellen married Henry VanValkenburgh. They lived in Santa Cruz, where Henry owned a paper mill on the San Lorenzo River. When he was killed by a falling tree branch in 1862, Ellen took over the running of his business. She was pregnant

Tituba - The First Witch of Salem

Ask just about anyone what they know about Salem in colonial Massachusetts and the most common answer is the witch hunts. But in the middle and late 1600s people knew Salem Town for its shipping. It was the first large seaport in the Massachusetts Bay colony. Salem seafarers and merchants played an important role as the Puritans grew wealth through trade between the mother country and the colony. As the town grew wealthier, it expanded as newcomers arrived and moved inland to establish fertile farms to feed the coastal population. Salem farms, also called Salem Village was established on the outskirts of the harbor town. And that village became ground zero for the first witchcraft accusations in 1692 after people accused an enslaved woman named Tituba of serving the devil by hurting children. Tituba’s owner was the village minister. Her alleged first victims were her master’s children Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, along with a neighbor child, Ann Putnam, Jr. The history books an