Come on in and pull up a chair! Today the Corsets gang is discussing which three people from history each of us would like to invite to a dinner party.
From Laura P. Golden:
Elizabeth I: Because she proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that women could rule just as well as, and arguably better than, men.
Leonardo da Vinci: Because he was both a brilliant mind and a brilliant artist.
Sophie Scholl: Because her bravery in putting her life on the line to stand up for what she believed to be right–especially at such a young age–and consequently facing the guillotine with her head held high pricks my conscience and inspires me on a daily basis.
From Katherine Longshore:
Anne Boleyn. Of course. I’m dying to know what she was really like! The information we have about her is almost entirely written by other people–many of whom hated her–and I’d love to hear her side of the story.
Richard III. Ditto above. One of the reasons I love history is because of unsolved mysteries. We don’t know for sure if Richard had his nephews murdered in the Tower of London, but because of Shakespeare (and the source of his material, Thomas More), we have come to believe that he did. That is, until Philippa Gregory wrote her Cousins War series, and now the matter is again questioned. I’d love to get to know the man behind the myth.
Isabella Bird. Victorian adventurer. World traveler. Writer. This is a woman after my own heart, and I’d love just to hear the stories she has to tell.
From Jessica Spotswood:
I’d love to have dinner with Jane Austen, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Margaret Mitchell. I’d pelt them with questions about their inspiration and writing processes and they’d probably be very annoyed with me.
From Cat Winters:
For my historical dinner party I would choose the theme “Twentieth-Century Lady Rebels.” Here is my guest list:
Civil rights activist Rosa Parks – I love that one of the Civil Rights Movement’s most iconic figures is a sweet-looking woman who, on the outside, didn’t appear at all like a rebel who would make a huge dent in the history of racial injustices. I would be fascinated to talk to her about her unflinching courage.
Suffrage leader Alice Paul – A woman who suffered through imprisonment and force feedings so that American woman could receive the right to vote. I would love to tell her that every time I feel like I don’t have a minute to sit down and vote, I think of what she and so many women with chutzpah went through in the past, and I ensure I don’t take my own rights for granted.
First daughter and hellion Alice Roosevelt Longworth – I’ve been fascinated by Alice ever since I saw a turn-of-the-twentieth-century photograph of her standing with her arms crossed over her chest as a teenager. She didn’t look like a proper Victorian young woman, and she most definitely didn’t behave that way either. Her father, Theodore Roosevelt, was once famously quoted as saying, “I can be president of the United States — or — I can attend to Alice. I cannot possibly do both!”
From Sharon Biggs Waller:
I would love to have dinner with Abigail Adams, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Priscilla Mullins. I admire these three for their strength and poise under extreme duress.
I’d love to have Abigail Adams because she’s the one who warned her husband, John Adams, to remember the ladies when he and the others in the Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain. She wrote: “remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” I’d ask her what prompted her to write such a powerful letter.
I think Sylvia Pankhurst, Emmeline Pankhurst’s daughter who fought for woman’s suffrage and for justice for the poor, would have an amazing conversation with her.
And wouldn’t it be great to find out what Priscilla Mullins thought and felt during the voyage of the Mayflower and how she was able to make a new life, even after her entire family died? And did she really love John Alden or did her heart lie with Myles Standish? I would make a Thanksgiving dinner because 1) wouldn’t it be awesome to serve such a thing to Priscilla Mullins? And 2) because everyone likes turkey.
From Jenn McGowen:
1) Queen Elizabeth I
I have studied the Elizabethan era for the past 25 years, so the opportunity to speak with QE 1 would be a complete gift. She probably would undo a lot of my carefully-constructed research, but just hearing about how she managed to retain the crown in an era of such unrest would be worth it!
2) Eleanor of Aquitaine
As one of the most famous women of history, she would need to be on the list–if only so I could learn more about her! Throughout her long life she embodied beauty, power, romance, intelligence–and more than a little scheming. I think her observations of today’s political and social climate would be extraordinary.
3) Catherine the Great
Before there was Elizabeth, for me there was Catherine the Great. She was the first female monarch I researched in college, and her role as an “enlightened despot” fascinated me. I would want to know her philosophy on ruling, politics, love, and life–and on bringing Russia into its golden age.
From J. Anderson Coats:
I’m interested in microhistory. I’d much rather talk to someone on the ground, someone ordinary and anonymous, someone who lived with the consequences of policy they had no control over rather than people who largely lived above it. Someone we don’t know about because no one with means to record considered them important enough to ask.
So here are mine:
A woman from the First Fleet to Botany Bay. Transportation was the eighteenth-century equivalent of dropping people on the surface of Mars, and women got the worst of it – hungry, homesick, and completely at the mercy of the environment, their fellow convicts, and the liquored-up gun-toting tools who were “guarding” them.
Someone from the Mayan city-state of Copan during its heyday. We know so little about what was going on in this civilization, but we know enough to be tantalized.
Oh, and I’d invite Oliver Cromwell just so I could punch him in the mouth for all the art and architecture he smashed, and all the books he destroyed.
Who would you invite, and why?