BOB'S BITS

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From suffragist to suffragette?
Lucy Burns, 1879-1966

It is unthinkable that a national government which represents women should ignore the issue of the right of all women to political freedom. - Lucy Burns, 1913

In Britain, women who agitated for voting rights were suffragettes; in the USA they were suffragists. Or that is what I believed for years, caught as I was in the toils of Shaw’s witty apothegm that the two countries were divided by their common language. But the differences between the two were more tactical than geographical, and both terms were used pejoratively (in both countries) to oppose and ridicule those who supported political feminism. One woman who in her lifetime cut through all confusions to be both a suffragette and a suffragist, and in both Britain and America, was Lucy Burns. She was perhaps an odd candidate for feminist militancy of any sort, born the middle child of a large, Irish Catholic family in Brooklyn, NY, on July 28, 1879. She grew up tall, strong, stately (graceful according to some), and with flaming red hair, and being smart as a whip would have cut an impressive figure in any walk of life, but she first chose education. From a girls’ school that promised to make her into a lady, she moved on to Vassar College, then graduate school at Yale (in linguistics). After a spell of school teaching Lucy Burns moved on to further language studies in Germany (Berlin and Bonn) and then in England (at Oxford). All this suggests ambition and intelligence of a high order, not thought of at the time as ladylike qualities. Lucy Burns became more aware of the limitations imposed on her womanhood through friendships with the Pankhursts, Emmeline and Christabel. She converted to their cause and migrated to its militant side, and with a new American friend, Alice Paul. By the time she and Paul moved to the USA, 1912, Lucy was a veteran of demonstrations, imprisonments, hunger strikes, and force feedings, and unlikely to be patient with the slow progress of American suffragists. Quickly she and Alice Paul broke away from gradualist, state-by-state approaches to form the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and then the National Woman’s Party. Burns campaigned across the country but especially in Washington (picketing Woodrow Wilson’s White House) and in California where her work threatened Wilson’s party in power—and where women could already vote. Along the way she bravely suffered the usual penalties of a militant suffragette, including force-feeding. The place where she suffered that “Night of Horrors” is now the Lucy Burns Museum, the old Fairfax County workhouse in Virginia. It’s a fitting memorial. After the success of the 19th Amendment, Lucy retired to care for her orphaned niece and to work tirelessly for the Catholic Church in New York. “I have done enough,” she said, perhaps optimistically. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

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The Cellar of Pervyze
Elsie Knocker, 1884-1966

It seems funny to think that by this time tomorrow I shall be in Belgium, in the midst of all the terrors of war. Elsie Knocker, September 24, 1914.

In the west, World War I began with the German invasion of Belgium. That caused much outrage, but there remained a “Belgian front,” the Yser Front. It was held by the Belgian army, an organization whose military disorder was symbolized by its lack of uniforms, with occasional help from British, Canadian, and French units. It was an odd battlefield, flat as a pancake and so waterlogged that both sides had to build their “trenches” above ground. It produced its fair share of carnage, and with that a remarkable story of the war, that of the “Angels of Pervyse” (Pervijze), two British nurses (one English, one Scots) who volunteered early and stayed late, and whose work under fire contributed to important advances in frontline medicine. The elder was Elsie Knocker, as English a name as you can get. She was born as Elizabeth Shapter, a doctor’s daughter, on July 29, 1884, orphaned early (at 6), and married a Knocker in 1906 but (after she had birthed a son) divorced him and, from 1908, trained as a nurse and became a motorcycle enthusiast. The motorcycles brought about Elsie’s friendship with the wealthy young Scotswoman, Mairi Chisholm of Chisholm, who knew Elsie as a widow. When the two volunteered for nursing duty in Belgium, in 1914 (at that time the British Army didn’t want female nurses), their familiarity with motors and mobility, their physical strength, and their courage drew them right to the Yser battlefront and to the realization that a crucial element of battlefield nursing was to do it quick, make first-aid decisions on the spot about whom to treat and how (we call it triage today), and only then get the survivors to hospital. They made their reputations quickly, and their determination (or obstinacy) made enemies too, especially among male medics. In the mud and muck of battle they drove motor-ambulances or, often, carried the wounded on their backs, often across flat ground with no cover and under German fire. By December 1914 they had established, in a battle-wrecked house, the ‘Cellar of Pervyse,’ and secured their reputations. Both of them lived long, but they fell out at the peace, Elsie’s true state as a divorcée becoming known. That revelation also ended her battlefield marriage to a Belgian count. The annulment left her as Baroness de T’Serclaes. Under that name, she volunteered in the next war, too, served as a RAF officer, and lost her RAF son, a Knocker, who was shot down over low countries in late 1942. Exhausted by life and by wars, Baroness Elsie died in 1966. After doing much to revive the Clan Fraser, Mairi died in 1981. Today museums celebrate both as pioneer female heroes. ©
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The spy who disappeared
Reginald Teague-Jones, 1889-1988

The Spy Who Disappeared. Title of Reginald Teague-Jones’s published journals, 1990.

A man called Ronald Sinclair died in Plymouth, England, on November 16, 1988, aged 99. His London Times obituary didn’t appear until November 22. There are several explanations for the delay, including the fact that he’d been living in secluded retirement for several decades before publishing a book (weeks before his death) on his exploits as a spy during World War I. Another may have been that he wasn’t ‘really’ Ronald Sinclair at all. When he’d spied along the imperial frontiers (Russian and British) of central Asia, he had been Reginald Teague-Jones. Three days after the first obituary, and after some hurried huggery-muggery between the Times and the British Foreign Office, a revised obituary gave his ‘real’ name and a few tantalizing details about his ‘real’ life. Reginald Teague-Jones was born in Liverpool on July 30, 1889, the youngest child of a schoolmaster. The father taught foreign languages, and Reginald probably picked a couple of them up by the time his dad died. He was then sent to family friends in Tsarist St. Petersburg where he finished his schooling. In 1910, having dropped out of King’s College, London, Reginald joined the imperial police force in India, learned yet more languages, and before the outbreak of WWI was operating as a spy. When war came, he was shifted to the Persian Gulf where he directed British espionage from Basra to the Caucasus. At the time of the Russian Revolution he moved into the Caucasus (in disguise, as a Persian merchant) where he supported anti-Bolsheviks and disrupted Central Powers supply lines. He married a Russian woman, Valya Alekseyeva, and engaged in warfare against the Bolsheviks, was wounded, and in 1918 played some part in the grisly massacre, at Baku, of 26 Bolshevik prisoners. In the eyes of the ascendant Soviet leadership, this made Teague-Jones a war criminal, and in London it was decided to sink HMS Teague-Jones but to re-launch Ronald Sinclair, British spy and double agent. Thereafter “Ronald Sinclair” lived a rather shady life, although it’s known that he spied for the British in the USA and in Spain where (having divorced Valya and married a German) he cultivated useful contacts. Later, after the death of his German wife, Valya and ‘Ronald’ took up gardening in Plymouth. Along the way, Reginald Teague-Jones and then Ronald Sinclair were each honored for their exploits (an MBE in 1919 and a CBE in 1923), and the whole story is still a bit fuzzy. “Teague-Jones’s” Transcaspian journals were published in 1990 with the titleThe Spy Who Disappeared, and it’s as the ‘disappeared’ Reginald Teague-Jones that we know him today, if rather shadily. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

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Greek theater and feminist history
Margarete Bieber, 1878-1978

The last thing I need is to saddle myself with a Berlin Jewess for the rest of my life. Professor Ludwig Curtius, 1919, explaining his refusal to appoint Margarete Bieber to his faculty at the University of Freiburg.

Were it not for Prussian conservatism in gender matters, Margarete Bieber might never have become a leading authority on Greek and Roman theater. Indeed Prussian universities did not accept female students until 1908, so Margarete first attended the University of Berlin, in 1901, as an auditor, which meant that she had to ask each professor for permission to attend his lectures. But even getting that far had required her to knuckle under to her parents’ gender prejudices, to drop her adolescent ambition to become a medical doctor, and to study to become a schoolteacher, a profession then opening up to women. Margarete Bieber was born on July 31, 1879, into a wealthy Jewish family whose assimilationist anxieties aimed Margarete at an adult life as a proper Prussian hausfrau. So her education was to end at age 16. However, inspired by her own successes and by a couple of feminist teachers, Margarete wanted to study medicine. This her parents would not countenance, and it was only after she promised to limit herself to a teaching career that she was allowed to continue her education at Helene Lange’s Gymnasialkurse in Berlin, whence she moved on to audit at the University. There she found her language-literature professors reluctant to allow a female auditor, and so moved on to Classics and its more liberal faculty. There she developed an interest in Greek and Roman culture. In terms of artifacts, Berlin’s museums made it the place to be, but in terms of cultural historians Bonn was better, and in 1904 Margarete moved there as a formal student (it was not in Prussia) and achieved her doctorate in 1907, only the second woman to do so. From there she traveled to Greece, to Rome, and to begin her work as an archaeologist. As a woman she was still not welcome, but as a scholar and worker, at ‘digs’ and in museums, she was a wonder. Her publications began to appear in 1910, and she was soon an acknowledged leader in the field. Further challenges remained (for instance to her becoming a faculty member), but—with her father’s financial support—she prospered. Then came Hitler and the Nazis, insuperable obstacles, and she did an end run first to Oxford, then Columbia. There in 1939, she published her first work in English, still a standard in the field of classical theater, and she continued to publish until 1977, just before her death at 99. Margarete Bieber never became a hausfrau, but she left behind her an adopted daughter, Ingeborg, several grandchildren, legions of students, a mountain of work, and an inspiring story. ©
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Survival and altruism.
William Donald Hamilton, 1936-2000

“Altruism” . . . is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. William Hamilton, 1975.

It was inevitable that Darwin’s idea of evolution by natural selection would be translated into ‘social Darwinism.’ As industrial and then financial capitalism transformed the western world, those who profited most from the transformation found it comforting to think of themselves, and their class, as exemplars of the best in humanity. Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” served nicely as nature’s endorsement of their supremacy and as a rationale for the further exploitation of poorer classes and backwards peoples. For them, competitive capitalism at home and imperialism abroad seemed the best ways to ensure the fitness of the race (and the “race” was, of course, their own and not the “human race”). Among the 20th-century scientists who helped to dismantle this self-serving interpretation of Darwinism was William Donald Hamilton, born of New Zealand parents at an outpost of Britain’s empire, Cairo, Egypt, on August 1, 1936. Through his studies of genetics and statistics (at Cambridge and then London), Hamilton became interested in the phenomenon of altruism, not as a leftist delusion but as a fact of life. In this he followed and extended the ideas of the great H. A. L. Fisher, who had argued that populations (species) possessed of a range of fitnesses were those most likely to enjoy evolutionary success. If diversity is a Good Thing for a population, a species, then so must be cooperation, mutual benefit, altruism between individuals in that population. There are plenty of examples in nature that give scientific substance to our mythic tales of commonality, not least that of ‘brotherly love,’ an essentially altruistic phenomenon we see in many species (including our own). Being a Darwinian and a statistician, Hamilton resisted giving these phenomena an ethical content, and argued mathematically that we are most likely to be most altruistic to those who share our genes (parents and children, siblings, even aunties and nieces). Later Hamilton would extend this basic principle of mutuality to the evolution of sex (a productive union of genetic variations) and even of senescence (as aging and death beneficially remove weaknesses from any genetic population). Hamilton’s world, then, was not ruled by flower power or pure selflessness, but nor was it red in tooth and claw. His was, it seems, a world in which dog did not necessarily eat dog. So thanks to scientists like Hamilton, those who would argue that “welfare” saps our strength or that “regulation” strips us of the benefits of ruthless competition have to look elsewhere than Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest (or some other “law” of nature) for their justification. Perhaps their bank balances would do the trick. ©
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Will the real Shakespeare please stand up?
William Ireland, 1775-1832

Begone, I say, lest that my present wrath
Make me forget the place by blood I hold
And break the tie twixt father and his child.

From ‘Vortigern and Rowena,’ by William Henry Ireland, 1795. Or, maybe, William Shakespeare.

So little is known of Shakespeare’s life that many have thought someone else wrote all those plays and poems. Opinions about who did have varied. To judge by the busts on his bookshelf, my great-grandfather favored Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban, but the leading candidate now is Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford. Both theories arise from the view that Shakespeare himself was of too common (and lowly) origin to have acquired the knowledge and artistry that undergird even his weakest works. A brilliant answer to this retrospective snobbery can be found in Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (2004). But another response to Shakespeare’s historical anonymity has been to forge documents and find ‘lost’ plays that plausibly fill out the life of the ‘real’ Shakespeare, the glover’s son who deserted his humble family to become England’s greatest playwright. Among the most successful of these forger-fraudsters was William Henry Ireland, born in London on August 2, 1775. Being an engraver’s son, Ireland came to forgery ‘naturally’, helped along by his father’s enthusiasm for Shakespeareana and his own experiments in concocting “Elizabethan” ink. As far as we know, Ireland’s first “find” came in 1794, when he was in Stratford gathering materials for his father’s Picturesque Views on the Upper, or Warwickshire Avon. This was a deed of sale signed by Shakespeare himself. It so pleased his dad that William produced more documentation, including even a letter to Shakespeare from Queen Elizabeth. Ireland’s ‘found’ forgeries tended to reveal Shakespeare as a proper hero for George III’s Britain, safely Protestant, rabidly anti-Catholic, a loving husband (to “Anna Hatherrewaye”), and a chaste writer whose tendency towards earthiness had arisen in fact from his actors’ adlibs. So besides a new Shakespeare play, Vortigern and Rowena, there was a “Bowdlerized” manuscript of King Lear. At first Ireland’s forgeries took people in, including none other than James Boswell, but as more discoveries entered the public domain skepticism took root and soon flowered into ridicule. William Ireland withdrew from the Shakespeareana market but continued on as a prolific writer of Regency potboilers and popular histories until he sank into obscurity and then into a grave at St. George the Martyr in Southwark. The possibility remained good, and still does, that William Shakespeare was really William Shakespeare. ©
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Just finished reading '1599. A year in the life of William Shakespeare ' By James Shapriro. A very in depth biography but as everyone knows or doesn't know there is nothing to pin Shakespeare down in his personal life other than he was relatively wealthy and was very well read on historical and political events. Part shareholder of the newly built Globe theatre and trader cum loan shark in his home town and not adverse to monopolising the grain/malt shortages to his own advantage. This made him not just a romantic poet and playwright but a bit of a wheeler-dealer. His theatre group the Chamberlain's Men later to become the King's Men after Queen Elizabeth died was well tuned to what the Court demanded and what went down well with the public. What was evident in Shakespeare's time was the invasion of Ireland by the Earl of Essex, England's land grab, and Essex's relationship with the Queen. Well worth the read if only for the history surrounding Shakespeare.
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A shilling for your salvation (Henley's admission charge at The Oratory)
"Orator" John Henley, 1692-1756

Great restorer of the good old Stage
Preacher at once and Zany of thy age. Alexander Pope, 1743

At a glance, the word ‘zany’ would seem to be a modern coinage, but in fact it was a medieval import (originally from the Italian for ‘clown’), and was well burnished by the time Alexander Pope used it (in his The Dunciad) to scorn one John Henley, by then known as “Orator” Henley, a man who thought a day wasted had he not made a spectacle of himself, often in print but usually in his ”Oratory”, a hall above one of London’s markets where Henley charged admission fees to those who would hear him out. And his message? Although Henley is often classed as a religious dissenter, there was little in him of the sober Quaker or stern Presbyterian. He derived his liturgy from an Pope, not Alexander but an early Bishop of Rome; his content may be related to deism and free thought; but his style was the thing, and it might be best to regard him as an entertainer. John Henley had certainly not started out that way. Instead he was born (on August 3, 1692) the son and grandson of blamelessly orthodox Anglican clergymen, and upon leaving Cambridge (in 1712 and with an actual degree) he enjoyed the patronage of powerful men, including even the Lord Chancellor, and obtained good preferments in the established church, generally in or near London. But along the way to an ordinary career, something happened. Much later, Henley claimed he’d already been a rebel at Cambridge (where, he wrote in 1752, he’d shown enough “stupidity to be educated”). He also remembered acquiring a reputation as a disputatious student. But it’s as likely that Henley kicked over his traces when his patronage dried up, and that in turn may have happened because his preaching began to seem eccentric or because he’d become known as a Grub Street plagiarist, sometime poet, Whig party propagandist, and a self-styled expert in language teaching. By 1725 he’d resigned his church posts. But he was careful to retain his license to preach, and at Clare Market he established his first “Oratory.” There his preaching became odder and odder, laced with more editorial comment on affairs of the day, and often downright funny. His “Gentleman’s Own University” proved a profitable (or at least a notorious) sideline, and if the fees (for oratory tickets or ersatz seminars) didn’t exactly pour in they kept Henley in enough prosperity to survive. And to cause outrage. Satirized by Pope and other tory pamphleteers (Grub Street produced all sorts), caricatured by Hogarth, “Orator” Henley enjoyed life until he didn’t. Sunk in drink and deserted by his auditors, he died poor and was cast into an unmarked grave in 1756. ©
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A toast to all friends, present or otherwise.
The invention of the invention of Champagne

Come quickly! I am tasting the stars! Attributed to Dom Pierre Perignon on tasting his first “champagne” (August 4, 1693).

Among the more entertaining of holiday reading books is The Invention of Tradition (1983), edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, which I believe is still in print. It’s a collection of essays, each by an eminent scholar. Most are about how 19th-century Britons and then, in an imitative rush, several African and Asian British colonies, invented what we might think of as a usable past. It was often not pure invention or plain fantasy, but had plausibility enough to charm folk into thinking it ‘really’ antique. It testifies to the ideological power of tradition in much the same way as the Trump slogan of Make America Great Again (emphasis mine) helps us to forget our actual pasts of working-class poverty, child labor, racial slavery, and cholera epidemics. My copy of the book is long gone, so I can’t remember whether its single chapter on continental Europe’s (re)invention of a usable past included the legend of the discovery of champagne by Dom Pierre Perignon, OSB, which is said to have taken place on August 4, 1693. That’s a suspiciously precise date for what must have been a process instead of a “Eureka!” moment, but it had plausibility enough to qualify as “tradition” in France and, indeed, wherever and whenever champagne is enjoyed (for instance, on your next summer holiday). Brother Perignon, born in 1638, was the chief winemaker (‘cellarer’) at his Benedictine abbey, Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers, in the Marne. And he was good enough at his work to qualify for burial in the abbots’ exclusive cemetery. It also seems to have been true that Dom Perignon was worried about the problem of wine refermenting in the bottle and did make rules, a set of recommendations to the brotherhood, about how to avoid that disaster. For when refermentation happened, the cork blew out, the bottle shattered, and since it was stacked with other bottles of the same vintage it could set off a messy, expensive chain reaction. But even if Dom Perignon did (on August 4, 1693, or any other day) open a bottle at just the right time, and did taste it, and did like it, it wasn’t “fine” champagne, it wasn’t “pale” and it probably wasn’t “brut.” To avoid refermentation, Perignon used only pinot noir grapes (including their red skins). The legend was invented by a later cellarer at the abbey, Dom Broussard, in 1821, and as pale, dry champagne became stylish in the later 19th century, the Dom Perignon myth was picked up by the local Syndicat du Commerce and by 1896 was standard marketing fodder (or nectar?) in advertising campaigns. So when on vacation, read your book, sip your champagne, and toast friends present or absent, but don’t revel in the mysteries of champagne’s (invented) past. Invented pasts are bad for your brain. ©

[If it's in Hobsbawm and Ranger's book I can't find it..... :biggrin2: ]
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A poet of the parish.
Wendell Berry, Poet of the Parish

There is an uncanny resemblance between our behavior toward each other and our behavior toward the earth. Wendell Berry, 1977.

In 1968, in a PhD seminar in American literature, I had an ill-tempered argument with my professor about “provincialism.” He saw it pejoratively and thought William Faulkner’s fiction weakened by it. Being a provincial myself, I took this badly, and we never again agreed on anything. The professor and I might have done well to think of Wendell Berry’s resolution of the issue by distinguishing between provincialism and “parochialism.” Provincials, Berry said, are forever worried that others will see them as provincial, whereas “the parochial person is always assured of the imaginative sufficiency of the local place.” Bingo! Problem solved! Trouble was, in 1968 Wendell Berry was only getting started, and that quoted ‘solution’ would not be voiced until 2019, in an interview in The New Yorker, ironically a fairly parochial journal itself, albeit one located in the country’s great cultural metropolis. Today Wendell Berry celebrates his 88th birthday on his farm in Henry County, Kentucky, a few miles away from his parents’ graves and his own birthplace (on August 5, 1934). Objectively, it looks like a provincial place, but through almost all of Berry’s writing we see it also (in his terms) as parochial. All human life resides there. People make good marriages and bad ones, they advance or embezzle the commonwealth, they support each other or bite backs, and they all have to work. It’s that last bit, work, that attracts Berry’s attention, and from which he draws most of his moral content. He thinks almost everyone is too busy, too business-like. He reads holy scripture (he’s an odd sort of Christian) and has become a sabbatarian. Berry’s sabbath, though, is not a day of rest but a habit of rest, rest that provides time for reflection and opens the possibility of resurrection. He has become especially concerned with those who work the land, farmers like himself and his wife and children. We all depend on the land, and we have accumulated too much evidence that the land depends on us. Therefore our relationship with the land should be, Wendell Berry thinks, like one of those good marriages that occasionally brighten his fictional village of Port William and more often warm his poetry. On the whole, it hasn’t worked out that way, and we need to take counsel about the needs of the land and learn to work with it in a sustainable way. On his farm, he walks that walk. Wendell Berry’s literary career began in 1960, in a Stanford seminar with Professor Wallace Stegner. Among Berry’s fellow students were Ken Kesey and Larry McMurtry. I would have liked to be a fly on that wall, for their arguments must have been at least as ill-tempered than mine, but maybe more fruitful. ©.
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A bit of a screamer.
Florence, Lady Baker, 1841-1914

If you want to do it, you can do it. Nellie Bly, in her Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.

There were many 19th-century women who traveled, but most did so perforce as wives or daughters. In the Victorian era, in Britain and the USA, some women became famous as travelers or explorers in their own right. Several have appeared in these notes, usually because, like the American journalist Nellie Bly (1864-1922), they gained fame by publicizing their adventures. One who didn’t write much but who was the perhaps most famous of them all, was Florence Barbara Maria, Lady Baker. Or infamous: for she may have been the only one of them refused an audience by Queen Victoria. This royal snub came not because of Florence’s geographical exploits but rather because of the very unusual paths by which she had become Lady Baker. Florence, Lady Baker, was born Florence Maria von Szász in a German-speaking enclave in Hapsburg Hungary on August 6, 1841. Whatever domestic peace she enjoyed as a child was shattered by the 1848 Revolutions, during which her family was massacred and she was taken hostage. Little is then known of her until 1859 when, aged 18, she was put up for sale in a slave market in Vidin, now in Bulgaria but then on the European frontier of the Ottoman Empire. Blonde and beautiful, she went for a high price to the local Pasha, but was spirited away by Sir Samuel Baker, something of an adventurer-traveler himself, and then accompanied him on his quest to find the source of the Nile. Baker later claimed that he’d married her forthwith, and maybe he did, but their formal wedding took place in 1865, in London, after they’d returned there to some fanfare. That was when Victoria refused to receive Florence at court (although the queen did confer upon Baker a knighthood). Florence was Baker’s second wife (the first, a vicar’s daughter, had died of typhus in Ceylon where the Baker family had extensive tea plantations), but was quickly accepted by his surviving daughters. Besides making a home (in Devonshire), Florence accompanied Baker on his further travels, both as a high imperial official and as explorer, and helped him directly in his attempts to stamp out the slave trade and to explore the upper Nile. Intrepid and strong, Florence adopted military clothing and a commanding personality (“a bit of a screamer,” her husband once wrote), and the two did get as far as Lake Albert, not without hazard but in considerably more comfort than that enjoyed by Bogart and Hepburn in The African Queen. Florence, Lady Baker was finally accepted by Victoria, and outlived her too (and her husband). Having written only one book, entitled Morning Star, Florence Maria, Lady Baker, died in 1914 and was buried next to her husband in darkest Devonshire. ©.
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