History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

14 December 2015

Princesses & Castles & Gowns

This post concerns a somewhat different sort of history. Or different types of history. The make believe history of fairy tales and fantasy. The history of own childhood as we look back on it. And the history we build ourselves with moments that are perhaps only significant when we look back on them.

My daughter Mélanie turned four yesterday. Hard for me to believe four years have already gone by since she was born and also hard for me to remember a time when she wasn't part of my life. In the case of her (much-anticipated) birthday I was very much aware that this particular moment was one would both remember, hopefully fondly. Thankfully as she was falling asleep she told me "I had a nice birthday."

Her big present from me was a wooden castle. It goes with a coach she got last year, some dolls she already had, and a new set of Frozen dolls which fit the castle perfectly. By last night it was populated with even more dolls of different sizes exploring the rooms and acting out Mélanie's stories. I had a wooden castle growing up and some of the the earliest historical stories I made up were not written down but acted on on its battlements. I love watching Mélanie play in this make believe world and learn a few historical terms - battlements, portcullis, sceptre.

Her party had a pirate princess theme with her cake decorated with characters from Captain Jake & the Neverland Pirates (along with a favorite purple pony). Mélanie loves pirate stories, mostly at her age of the very lighthearted kind (including Pirates of Penznance). Another example of a sort of fantasy world with roots in real history. As is her love long, full-skirted dresses she can twirl in, tiaras, and sparkly jewelry.

I love watching her explore stories, and I particularly love when they touch on one of my great loves, history. For me, fairy tales and make believe were an early gateway into my eventual love of archives, Calendars of State Papers, and dusty trails of books too seldom read to be in the Stanford library's computer system. It will be interesting to see if Mélanie's interest in history grows. For now, I'm enjoying playing with her castle with her :-).

What started your love of history?

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Blogger Helena said...

I believe that historical novels for children started my love of history, especially books by Geoffrey Trease and Rosemary Sutcliffe. I also loved A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley and everything by Elizabeth Goudge. I read and re-read them and sought out historical novels.

I was fortunate to have a very good History teacher at grammar school who built on my love for history with lots of lovely details about the Romans, and then the Tudors.

2:04 AM  
Blogger Helena said...

I should also give credit to Georgette Heyer, who instilled a love of the Regency period which persists to this day, and taught me a great deal about it.

2:42 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Georgette Heyer definitely inspired my love of the Regency, Helena, and I was ten when I discovered her (through my mom reading the books to me), but I already loved history through books by writers like Sallie Watson and Elizabeth Marie Pope (not to mention Jane Austen who my mom started reading to me when I was six or seven). And even before that I love fairy tales and fantasy history like Mélanie does.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Lynne Hess said...

What a fun party and day she must have had! Thanks for sharing Mel's big day and wonderful castle with us. (My castle, when I was just a bit older, was a version of Sleeping Beauty's castle...but only in cardboard.)

11:08 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

I think she enjoyed the day, Lynne! Your Sleeping Beauty castle sounds great! I had Sleeping Beauty paper dolls I loved, but not a castle (though I did have a smaller wooden castle my dad brought back from England that I loved).

5:19 PM  

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