Category Archives: Non Fiction

Celebrate Good Times, Come ON! 100 post!!!


Wordpress Button Closeup

WordPress Button Closeup (Photo credit: Titanas)

Instead of my usual Thought of the Day I wanted to share the exciting news that ritaLOVEStoWRITE has hit a milestone.  This is my 100th post on WordPress!

Thank you to all of the readers who have hit the blog 2,700 plus times in the last three months. And especially to my 57 dedicated followers (plus those 300 plus of you on Facebook and Twitter who follow that way.) Your LIKES, feedback and support have made these lonely hours in front of my computer well worth it.

Of course the act of researching, writing, adding the photos and editing the posts  has been its own reward. How else would I have found out about Mata Hari?

So, incase any one asks, here’s what rita WRITES about: 


I was somewhat surprised at how that broke down. While in the trenches of writing the blog I thought it weighed way to heavily on the celebrity and was too light on the cerebral, but actually I had more WRITERS than anyone else.



There was some nice cross over between Movies and Music (in Musical Theatre)…


The bulk of my 100 posts are in the Thought of the Day category, and the MISC. chart gives a who’s who of folks who didn’t fit nicely into Writing, Movies or Music. I liked the cross referencing here too.



The last chart is for post that didn’t appear as a Thought of the Day entry, “Original Non-Fiction.” Hmmm. Well everything on my blog is my original work (except one repost from my friend Lynn Reynolds about Books and How to Sell Them) and so far it has been all non-fiction. So I guess EVERYTHING could be on this chart.

In the future I hope to add some fiction to the site. Would you like that?

Please know that I love to get feedback, but I’m pretty fierce about SPAM. If there is any chance something is SPAM I throw it in the trash. So if I have inadvertently trashed your perfectly legitimate comment, I apologize. It was thrown into my SPAM folder and I probably couldn’t see your website to check. PLEASE write something referring back to “ritaLOVEStoWRITE” in your comment then I’ll know it is the real deal and not some bot trolling for unsuspecting bloggers.

I’ll leave you with a Thought for Today from Australian politician Arthur Calwell who was born on this day in 1896…

“It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.”

Hmmm something to think about as the (American) political season goes super nova.

Thought of the Day 8.20.12 Luciano De Crescenzo

“We are, each of us angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another.”

–Luciano De Crescenzo

Luciano De Crescenzo - foto di Augusto De Luca

Luciano De Crescenzo – foto di Augusto De Luca (Photo credit: AUGUSTO DE LUCA)


Confession: I spend way too much time on this guilty pleasure I like to call blogging. The “Thought of the Day”– which started as a single inspirational quote to an email list of friends —  takes waaaaaaay too much time too research and write. Sometimes, like yesterday, I’m so anxious to get-it-finished that I click the PUBLISH button before remembering to proof read it. (sorry about that,Orville! The edited version is now on up.)

I moved “Thought of the Day” over to ritaLOVEStoWRITE in mid June and I decided to make it my Summer Writing Challenge. I switched up the format a little to focus on a quote from someone who is having a birthday, added some biographical information, and (about two weeks in) discovered that WordPress offers copyright free images if you write long enough, so I put those in too (if I don’t like the images I do more research.)

It DOES get me writing. Unfortunately for the characters in the many notebooks on my desk (and for my bank account) it also takes away time from REAL work.

The trick is to [QUICKLY] find an interesting quote from an interesting person who is having a birthday on a given day. Hopefully that person will have some interesting art associated with him/her. Then I go to two or three websites and read about the person, write and edit the post, add the links, tags and categories, and put in the artwork. Grab the”quick link” code, PUBLISH, and go on Facebook and Twitter and let folks know that the new blog post is… errr… posted.

WHY am I telling you all this? Well I’ve been meaning to explain my process for awhile, and… Luciano De Crescenzo dropped this little gift of a quote into my lap.

Luciano is the prefect subject for me. Great quote (lots of great quotes actually, but this one! Bellissimo!)  There’s not a ton of information for me to slog through in the research stage (like there was for good ole Orville — yesterday’s subject.) And I know next to nothing about him, so I’m sure to learn a lot.

So, basically, if I hadn’t written this confessional I’d be done already. 🙂


Luciano De Crescenzo was born on this day  in Naples, Italy in 1928. He is 84 years old.

He has a degree in engineering and worked for IBM before shifting gears and writing about his beloved Naples. His first book was published in 1977 and was titled Cosi Parlo Bellavista (Thus Spake Bellavista.) He has written 20 more books, been translated into 19 languages. His books have sold over 20 million copies.

His natural charm and Italian good looks led him to film in 1980. De Crescenzo has added screenwriter, actor and director to his CV as he  has worked with Italian movie legends from Teo Teocoli and  Isabella Rossellini  to Roberto Benigni.


[For a full list of his his books and movies click here.]

Luciano De Crescenzo, filosofo

Luciano De Crescenzo, filosofo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thought of the Day 8.15.12 T.E. Lawrence

“Rebellions can be made by 2 percent actively in the striking force and 98 percent passively sympathetic.”

-T.E. Lawrence

T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia

T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thomas Edward Lawrence  was born on this day in Tremadoc, Caernarvonshire, Wales in 1888.  Today is the 124th anniversary of his birth.

He was the son of Thomas Robert Tighe Chapman, the Baronet of Westmeath, and Sarah Junner a governess for the Chapman children.  A few years earlier T.E.’s  father, having fallen in love with the young governess,  had asked his wife, Edith, for a divorce, when she refused,  he left her and set up house with Junner. They were known as Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence and  had five sons together (T.E. was the second eldest). The family moved several times while T.E. (or Ned as he was known  then) was growing up. Ned and his brothers loved to cycle and sail and explore the countryside. He was very smart, and could read books and newspapers at 4. He studied history at Jesus College, Oxford.

When he was 21 he went to Ottoman Syria and visited 36 crusader castles. He covered 1,100 miles on foot and wrote his thesis ‘The Influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture – to the End of the XIIth Century.”

He graduated from Jesus College and went on to post-graduate work in mediaeval pottery under a research fellowship for travel by Magdalen College. Lawrence went back to Syria, travelled to Egypt, Palestine and other spots in the Middle East working as a field archaeologist with his friend Leonard Wooley. Lawrence learned the customs and language of the people while he explored the history of the land.

At the outbreak of WWI Lawrence was co-opted into British military intelligence. He and Wooley surveyed the Negev Desert.

English: British Army File photo of T.E. Lawrence

English: British Army File photo of T.E. Lawrence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the War progressed Lawrence began to dress in the long flowing robes of an Arab and  fought along side Emir Feisal to launch a Arab revolt against Germany’s ally, the Ottoman Empire. Feisal and Lawrence lead a guerrilla war in the desert. It took the Turkish government  far more  resources to squash a rebellion of breakaway Arab tribes than it took the British to incite one. Instead of attacking the heavily fortified city of Medina Feisal and Lawrence organized raids on the Hejaz railway.

Lawrence at Aqaba, 1917

Lawrence at Aqaba, 1917 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was wounded several times by both bullets and shrapnel. He was captured in 1916 in Deraa where he was beaten and sexually assaulted. He escaped but the experience left him shattered.

In 1917 he and Feisal led an overland attack on the port city of Akuba. (The town was heavily fortified against a naval attack, but was surprised by an attack from the desert.) In 1918 he led Arab forces in the Battle of Tafileh  (for which he won the Distinguished Service Order  and was promoted.)

Prince Feisal

Prince Feisal

As the War wound down Lawrence returned to England and advocated for Arab independence. He travelled with Feisal to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. But the Western powers, having used their Arab pawns in a successful game of chess against Germany and Turkey, divided the Middle East between France and England in the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

American journalist Lowell Thomas and cameraman Harry Chase had spent several weeks in the desert shooting dramatic footage of of Lawrence and (at Lawrence’s insistence) Arab leaders like Feisal. Thomas began to show his “Slide and Lantern” lecture to audiences in the US and England.

“The romantic and adventurous tales of this “mysterious blue eyed Arab in the garb of a prince wandering the streets” were an instant hit. Lowell Thomas’ screen show showed to packed audiences in New York and then London. ” [MPT Laurence of Arabia / Lowell Thomas]

Thomas’ London lecture/film tour ran for 6 months and included a Royal Command Performance. He went on to tour most of the English speaking countries in the world and made millions of dollars.

The legend of Lawrence of Arabia was born.

Cover of "Lawrence of Arabia (Single Disc...

DVD cover for the David Lean movie based on Lawrence’s life.  via Amazon

Lawrence, however was angry over the Paris Peace talks and, although he went to see Thomas’ show, he eschewed the added celebrity. He withdrew from public life to write his memoir, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

He served, at Winston Churchill’s request, as a political adviser to the Colonial Office to help construct a pro-Arab settlement for the Middle East. He returned, under a pseudonym, to the armed forces, first in the Royal Air Force as John Hume Ross, then in the Army as Thomas Edward Shaw. But the press always found him out.

In May of 1935 Lawrence was riding his motorbike at 100 mph along a country road when he lost control and crashed. He died a few days later.

Lawrence of Arabia on his Brough Superior

Lawrence of Arabia on his Brough Superior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thought of the Day 8.7.12 Mata Hari

“I am a woman who enjoys herself very much; sometimes I lose, sometimes I win.”

–Mata Hari

Postcard of Mata Hari in Paris

Postcard of Mata Hari in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gertrud Margarete “M’greet” Zelle was born on this day in Leeunwarden, Netherlands in 1876. Today is the 136 anniversary of her birth.

The second of five children, M’greet was the only girl. Her father doted on her calling her “an orchid among buttercups.” She did well in school, especially in langauge classes. She had an active imagination and a flair for the dramatic (her dark hair and eyes and olive skin already marked her as exotic amongst the pale skinned, blond haired Dutch villagers) and was popular with her classmates. She lived happily until her father lost his money, and the family status, in stock market speculations.  When her mother died M’greet and the boys were separated and shipped off to relatives willing to look after them. After a short stint training to become a kindergarten teacher she moved to The Hague and stayed with her uncle.

At 5’10” M’greet was taller than the average dutch man. And she was small chested. She also didn’t have any money. Not the most attractive qualities for a young woman in wont of a husband. But she was pretty in an exotic sort of way, she was vivacious, she had style and grace and she planned to make the most of it. She answered an ad that read “Officer on home leave from Dutch East Indies would like to meet girl of pleasant character — object matrimony.” The officer the ad referred to was 38 year old Captain Rudolph Macleod, (a friend of his placed the ad with out his knowledge, but he he agreed to meet M’greet and the two fell for each other.) Despite the 20 year difference in their ages the two got married. The marriage proved an unhappy one with Rudolph, an alcoholic, openly taking mistresses and abusing his wife. They moved to Java and Sumatra for his job in the Dutch Colonial Army.

Rudolph and Norman John Mac Leod

Rudolph and Norman John Mac Leod (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite Rudolph’s orders otherwise, M’greet learned to speak Malay. She immersed herself in the culture and joined a local dance company. It was here that she took the artistic pseudonym “Mata Hari” Although the phrase “Mata Hari” has come to mean a kind of femme fatal spy, the term literally means “eye of the day” or “sun”.  They had two children, Norman John and Louise Jeanne. While the MacLeods were stationed in Sumatra the children took seriously ill (they were either poisoned or suffered from complications from the treatment of syphilis.) The little boy died.

Louise Jeanne Mac Leod (1898-1919) daughter of...

Louise Jeanne Mac Leod (1898-1919) daughter of Mata Hari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

M’greet and Rudolf’s marriage, already on rocky ground, spiraled downward. When they returned to Amsterdam in 1902 she filed for separation. The Dutch courts, surprisingly, granted her request, gave her custody of little Louise Jeanne and ordered Rudolph to pay 100 guilders a month is support.  The support never came. and a bitter Rudolph publicly denounced his “evil” wife for deserting him. With out a  means of feeding or clothing her daughter she reluctantly turned the child over to her father. M’greet eked by relying on the kindness of her relatives.

Mata Hari

Mata Hari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1903 she decided to change her life. She moved to Paris and under the name “Lady MacLeod” she performed as a circus horse rider, a dancer and an artist’s model. The Orientalism movement in dance was sweeping Europe and her exotic/erotic style and Java inspired dancing became a hit. The website  Mata quotes Russell Warren Howe’s book to describe the dance…

…(the) diaphanous shawls she wore as the dance began were cast away to tempt the god until finally…the sarong was abandoned and her silhouette, with her back to the audience, writhed with desire toward her supernatural lover. … All passion spent, she touched her brow to Siva’s feet; one of the attendant dancers tiptoed delicately forward and threw a gold lamé cloth across the kneeling figure, enabling her to rise and take the applause.”

He goes on to say that  her overnight success “was pivotal in elevating the striptease to an art form.” She took her act on the road and danced at all the European hot spots and capitals. She was a master of illusion in that she did a striptease without stripping all the way down. She wore a body stocking that matched her own skin color and she never took off her bejeweled bra (which she padded.) She dropped the moniker of “Lady MacLeod” and went as “Mata Hari”  reinventing herself as a daughter of Indian temple dancer, raised in the temple of Siva. She became a courtesan and developed relationships  with wealthy, powerful men.  She had always loved “a man in uniform” and now she had lovers of the highest rank.

The Netherlands remained neutral during WWI so she had access to both Germany and France. According to :

It was said that while in The Hague in 1916 she was offered cash by a German consul for information obtained on her next visit to France.  Indeed, Mata Hari admitted she had passed old, outdated information to a German intelligence officer when later interrogated by the French intelligence service.

Mata Hari herself claimed she had been paid to act as a French spy in Belgium (then occupied by German forces), although she had neglected to inform her French spymasters of her prior arrangement with the German consul.  She was, it seemed, a double agent, if a not very successful one.

While traveling in France she was arrested in Paris on February 13, 1917. She was held Saint-Lazare prison and interrogated on charges of espionage. She maintained her innocence.  The trail was held on July 24 & 25. She was found guilty  and sentenced to death. On October 15, 1917 she refused a blind fold and faced her execution squad. She blew them a kiss just before the fired.

The Execution of Mata Hari in 1917. http://www...

The Execution of Mata Hari in 1917. Probably a reconstruction for the movie of 1920. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thought of the Day 8.3.12 Leon Uris

“Often we have no time for our friends but all the time in the world for our enemies.”

–Leon Uris

Leon Marcus Uris was born on this day in Baltimore, Maryland in 1924. This is the 88th anniversary of his birth.

Son of Polish and Russian Jewish immigrants Leon went to schools in Baltimore, Norfolk and Philadelphia. He failed English three times, but he loved History and Literature. He allegedly wrote an operetta about the death of his dog when he was only six years old.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 Uris dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He served from 1942 to 1945 in the South Pacific. He  was a radio operator  and saw combat at Guadalcanal and Tarawa. When he contracted malaria he was sent to San Francisco to recuperate. There he met his first wife Marine sergeant Betty Beck.

1st edition cover Pages: 694 pp (Mass Market P...

1st edition cover Pages: 694 pp (Mass Market Paperback) (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After his discharge from the service he worked  for the San Francisco Call-Bulletin and wrote fiction in his spare time. His first book, Battle Cry,  retold his war experiences. Published in 1953 ,and made into a movie by Warner Brothers with Uris as screen writer, the film did well at the box office.

His second novel also took place during WWII, but this time in the European Theatre. The Angry Hills is about Greek resistance fighters.  It too was made into a movie, this one starring Robert Mitchum.

Research Uris did for The Angry Hills and his time  as a war correspondent during Arab-Israeli fighting in 1956  lead to most his most successful novel, Exodus. Published in 1958 the book is the result of  thousands of interviews. Uris traveled 12,000 miles in Israel and read hundreds of books on Jewish history. Doubleday bought the book which out sold Gone with the Wind, becoming the biggest bestseller in the United States. It was translated into 50  languages. A blockbuster movie starring Paul Newman came out in 1960.

Mila 18 is about Jewish resistance fighters during the Warsaw uprising. Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin is about the complications of the Cold War during and after and the Berlin Airlift. Topaz, a spy story, has the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War in its cross hairs. Alfred Hitchcock  directed it for the big screen.  QBVII  is a courtroom drama about a doctor who was pressed into service in a Nazi concentration camp.  It was made into a mini series starring Anthony Hopkins in 1974.

In Trinity Uris tacked the troubles in Ireland, following the lives of several families from the potato famine to the Easter Uprising. Redemption, written two decades later follows up on the Irish story.

The Haj delves again into the troubled Middle East. The Milta Pass is about the Suez Crisis.

A God in Runs takes on the American political scene when Quinn Patrick O’Connell runs for president. His last novel, O’Hara’s Choice, was published posthumously, and was not well received.

Non fiction works include: Ireland: A terrible Beauty and Jerusalem: Song of Songs both include photographs by his with Jill Uris.

More on Leon Uris try this site:

Thought of the Day 8.2.12 L’Enfant

Pierre Charles L'Enfant

Pierre Charles L’Enfant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pierre Charles L’Enfant was born on this day in 1754 at Anet, Eure et Loir, France. Today is the 258th anniversary of his birth.

L’Enfant was educated at the Royal Academy in Paris as an engineer before joining Lafayette  to help the American side during the War of Independence. He arrived in 1777 at the age of 23 and fought as military engineer. He joined George Washington’s staff  after recovering from injuries at the Siege of Savannah. He attainted the rank of Major of Engineers in 1783.

He moved to New York after the war and established a civil engineering firm. In 1788 he redesigned the  New York’s city hall to be the United States’ first capitol building, Federal Hall.  The building was the site of George Washington’s inauguration and where the Bill of Rights was signed.

Federal Hall, Seat of Congress 1790
hand-colored engraving by Amos Doolittle, depicting Washington’s April 30, 1789 inauguration. [Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons: public domain]

In 1791 the US Congress authorized the building of a capital city on the Potomac River. George Washington appointed his old friend L’Enfant  to design the new city in 1791.

L’Enfant’s “Plan of the city of Washington” March 1792 is at the Library of Congress. [Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons. This image is in the Public Domain.]

“Congress House” (the Capitol) was to be on top a hill, a place of honor overlooking the rest of the city.  The “President’s House” (the White House) was to be a grand mansion fit for the leader of the country. His plan outlined the need for public spaces including a grand public walk (today’s National Mall) ). It would be 1 mile long and 400 feet wide and would stretch from the Capitol to an equestrian statue of Washington (the Washington Monument is now where the statue would have been).

The western front of the United States Capitol...

The western front of the United States Capitol. The Capitol serves as the seat of government for the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings. It is an exemplar of the Neoclassical architecture style. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to “A Brief History fo Pierre L’Enfant and Washington, D.C.”:

L’Enfant placed Congress on a high point with a commanding view of the Potomac, instead of reserving the grandest spot for the leader’s palace as was customary in Europe. Capitol Hill became the center of the city from which diagonal avenues named after the states radiated, cutting across a grid street system. These wide boulevards allowed for easy transportation across town and offered views of important buildings and common squares from great distances. Public squares and parks were evenly dispersed at intersections.

Wide avenues and public squares would make it “people’s city”, while monuments  and inspiring buildings would give it the stature and importance of world capital.

While he was concerned with the grand vision of the city  his bosses on the Congressional appointed committee were concerned with how much the project was going to cost . They  wanted to keep the wealthy plantation owners in the area happy. L’Enfant “delayed producing a map for the sale of city lots (fearing real estate speculators would buy up land and leave the city vacant).” And he angered the commission when he had a prominent resident’s house torn down because it was in the way of one his boulevards.  When the city’s surveyor went behind his back and produced a lot map L’Enfant resigned. He was never properly paid for the work he did on the Capital.

The city was built, but the design had been greatly altered. Gone were the arrow straight streets and parkways. The Mall between the Capitol and the White House was a tree-covered park of irregular shape. Cows grazed on it.

Visitors ridiculed the city for its idealistic pretensions in a bumpkin setting and there was even talk after the Civil War of moving the capital to Philadelphia or the Midwest.

But in 1901 the McMillan Commission resurrected L’Enfant’s ideas and updated them for a modern city. The Mall was reclaimed, cleared and lined with American Elm trees. Memorials to Lincoln and Jefferson were added, and Museums and government buildings lined the perimeter.

L’Enfant worked on commissions

after the Capital, but non were very successful. His design for Philadelphia millionaire Robert Morris’ mansion was called Morris’ Folly. His final years were spent at the home of his friend William Dudley Digges, near Bladensburg, Maryland. He was buried there, but his body was exhumed and reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. His tomb now overlooks the city he helped design.

Tomb of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, designer of W...

Tomb of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, designer of Washington, D.C.’s original city plan, on the grounds of Arlington House (the Robert E. Lee Memorial) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FLLW Pope-Leighey House

In the 1920s and 1930s Frank Lloyd Wright (FLLW) began to look seriously at the way the common man lived. He wanted to design a series of affordable houses that were beautiful, streamlined, suited for their site and used local materials.  What he came up with was the USONIAN.

USONIAN houses were typically built as a single level dwelling. The houses had two wings. The public wing had a living and dining room. There was a  hearth wall that separated this formal area form the work area of the kitchen, “service core” of the house.  Then the house would bear off to a private wing for the bedrooms. FLLW’s goal was to build a USONIAN for $5,000 including the Architect’s fee, but, as with most  of his projects they tended to come in over budget. According the Wright foundation only 60 USONIAN homes were built.

One of those houses is the Pope-Leighy House in Virginia.

Loren Pope was a writer and copy editor for the Washington Evening Star when he approached Wright about building the house in 1938. He was  making $50 a week at the newspaper when he began to dream about owning a USONIAN home. Pope had a love for architecture and had read Wright’s Wasmuth Portfolio (a two-volume set of Wright lithographs with line drawings and schematics of his early buildings). He met Wright  at a DC event and convinced the architect to design him a USONIAN by writing him a letter.  He appealed to Wright’s desire to bring his artistic aesthetic to the common man (AND appealed to his ego) “There are certain things a man wants during life, and, of life. Material things and things of the spirit. The writer has one fervent wish that includes both. It is for a house created by you…. Will you create a house for us? Will you?” Wright’s answer was magnanimous “”Dear Loren Pope: Of course I am ready to give you a house.” 1

The Evening Star financed a loan of $5,700 for the 1200 foot house. (Down from Wright’s original proposal of 1800 ft.)

Floor plan of the Pope-Leighy house

Some of FLLW’s houses were build on octagons, but the Pope house was based on a 2 x 4 foot rectangular grid. There is radiant heating in the floor which was made of concrete and painted Cherokee Red (a favorite color of FLLW.)  Other favorite Wright materials are used as well, Tidewater red cypress, brick and glass. The exterior vertical mortar on the brick work was tinted red to match the red of the brick, while the horizontal mortar was left natural cream. That gave a strong horizontal feeling to the walls, and made the house look longer that it really was.

You approach the house from a shady cantilevered carport. This is the “Public” side of the  house Most of the walls on this side lack windows, except for a clerestory at the top. This allowed the family privacy. Wright created a unique clerestory design each house.

Our tour guide opens the front door to the Pope-Leighey house for us.

The ceiling of the carport and the entrance hall are low, but it doesn’t feel claustrophobic. You can see the living room directly opposite the front door and Wright used a sense of compression and release to encourage visitors to go through the entrance into the more important area of the house. The LIVING room was for living, after all. He brings you down a short set of stairs while keeping the ceiling line constant and suddenly the space feels massive. The ceiling height here is 12 feet.

Living room as seen from the entrance.

The living room is warm and lush. The wood, which has been allowed to weather (as FLLW intended) to a stately silver on the outside is waxed to a wonderful rich orange inside. The light from the clerestory windows, the dining room nook to the left, and a screened in porch to the right wash this peaceful room with calm. The room is furnished by period pieces designed by Wright  some of which are original to the house (as well as a few reproduction chairs that visitors are allowed to sit on.)

The house from the garden. The dining nook comes right out into the garden area blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space.

FLLW strived to blur the line between the inside and the outside. When the floor to ceiling windows of the dining room are open he accomplishes the goal. Diners are both in the dining room and in the garden at the same time. The corner window opens completely — with no center sash — to give an uninterrupted view (A concept he borrowed from Fallingwater.)

The kitchen is small according to modern standards, but it was typical for the time. The tall ceilings make the room feel a little larger than it really is. There is a long skinny window  at the end of the kitchen, and FLLW created an herb planter just outside. All Mrs. Pope had to do was open the window and reach out to pluck a few herbs to add to what ever she was cooking. There is also a small utility room off the kitchen.

Exterior of the bedroom wing looking to the front of the house. This public side of the house offers a lot of privacy to the inhabitants, with only clerestory windows (above eye level) for light and air.

Looking from the end of the bedroom wing to the crux of the building and the dining nook. The garden side of the bedroom wing has large, hip to ceiling windows.

Back up the stairs and to the right is a door that leads to the bedroom wing of the house. A long, very narrow hall with a run of clerestory windows  leads first to a small bathroom (the only one in the house), to the master bedroom and to the children’s bedroom. The hall is very skinny –about as wide as a passage way in a Pullman railway car — so large furniture had to be brought in through the windows.  The children’s bedroom is especially light. With a wrap around window and two additional clerestory inspired at the far wall. Built-ins, like a child’s desk and cantilevered bookshelves make this room a delight.

At the far end of the bedroom wing the children’s bedroom has it’s own cantilevered roof and special windows.

A room to the right of the entrance, opposite the bedroom wing was Mr. Pope’s Sanctum, his study, until the growing family converted it into a nursery for their child.

Loren Pope wrote an article about the design and construction process on the house and it was this article that inspired other middle income families in the mid 20th Century to turn to FLLW and seek out a USONION. The Popes had hopes that FLLW would build them a new, large home, but by the time the could afford one Wright was in the middle of building the Guggenheim. They only lived in the house for 6 years.

In 1947 The Leighey’s bought the home. They lived there happily until 1961 when they received notice that expansion of Interstate 66 would be going right though the property. The house would need to be moved or it would be torn down. After Mr. Leighey’s death in 1963 Mrs. Marjorie Leighey made a deal with the Trust for Historic Preservation and the house was moved to the grounds of Woodlawn Plantation by flat bed truck. (The masonry and concrete foundation are not original, as those could not be moved and were lost when I-66 was expanded.)  Mrs. Leighey continued to live in the house at it’s new location and gave tours on the weekend.  This first relocation proved to be troublesome as the house had been placed on an unstable marine clay foundation. So it had to be relocated a second time in 1995. Although this second relocation site is only 30 feet from the first is much more stable.

Now the house is situated on a piece of land that is very similar to the original plot. It faces almost the same site lines so the sun peaks through the windows just as it did when the Popes and Leigheys lived there.

Wright was delighted with the house. He thought it truly embodied this ideals of USONIAN design.

Motif detail for the Pope-Leighey’s clerestory. Looking from outside the living room toward the front door.

The house is open for tours Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday) from 10-5pm. Tours are limited to 16 people at a time and cost $8.50 for adults. If you are visiting Mount Vernon the Pope-Leighey House is a short drive away and well worth the addition to your plans. (See the National Trust link below for more information)

Other pages you’ll like on the Pope-Leighy House:

•The National Trust Historic Site  Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighy House page

• Peter Beers’s Pope Leighey House, 2003: Mount Vernon, Virginia page. This page has some wonderful interior photos, something we were not “allowed” to take on our visit. All my interior shots are taken from open doors and windows.

1 Pope and Wright correspondence, 1939, reprinted in The Pope-Leigh[e]y House (Washington DC: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1969), pp. 12-15.

Thought of the Day 6.8.12 Frank Lloyd Wright

“I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools.
Let’s start with typewriters.”

–Frank Lloyd Wright

Today is Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday, he would have been 145 years old.English: Frank Lloyd Wright, American architec...

English: Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect, portrait, head and shoulders, facing right. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[As a writer all I can say to that quote is “ouch.”]

Literary references in Jane Austen’s Persuasion

The following is a talk I gave at the JASNA:MD winter meeting in Baltimore. (JASNA stands for Jane Austen Society or North America). It is written (and was given) in first person, as Jane. I didn’t feel up to presenting in front of a room full of JA scholars as just little ole me. The numbers at the beginning of some of the paras refer to where the allusions fall in novel. 


The last novel I completed was Persuasion. It is shorter than my earlier works, and, perhaps because of my illness it is a bit less polished. The pace of Persuasion is uneven with some scenes being tight, brisk and full of information, while, I fear, others lumber along  like a country dance and take pages and pages in getting to the point. And I’m ashamed to admit that subplots and characters are unsatisfactorily deployed.  Alas it was left to my  dear brother Henry to publish it, along with Northanger Abbey, after I left this mortal plane in 1817.

Like many of my novels there’s an touch of the Fairy Tale lurking in the plot. Persuasion and Mansfield Park both owe a bit to Cinderella. Anne Elliot is treated as a “nobody” through out the book by her ridiculously vain father, Sir Walter, and her sisters, Elizabeth and  Mary.  There maybe no pumpkin or glass slipper, but, dear reader, rest assured there is a ‘prince’ at the end.


My first literary allusion is to John Debrett’s Baronetage of England. The Baronetage is Sir Walter’s favorite book, indeed it is the only book he ever reads. It is almost always open to page on the Elliot’s of Kellynich Hall.  The book is a genealogical guide to the British Ton, a Regency Who’s Who of the Peerage. Inclusion in the book reinforces Sir Walter’s very high opinion of himself.  And although HE is quite fictional, I am afraid to say there are those of my acquaintance who spend more time turning the leaves of the Baronetage than those of the Good Book.

Here’s an ABBREVIATED listing from the REAL Baronetage:

 Barrington, of Barrington-Hall, Essex. Created Baronet, June 29, 1611.

Ti/TR. Camden, in his Britannia, fays, * Barrington-Hall « the feat of that eminent family of the Barringtons, who, in the time of King Stephen, were greatly enriched with the estate of the Lords Montfitchct;  a match with the daughter and co- heir of Henry Pole, Lord Montacute…

By including the book’s fictionalized entry for the Elliot’s I cleverly introduce several of the novels main characters.

1.8 Another reference list appears in Chapter 8. We are at Uppercross. Captain Wentworth is having dinner with the Musgrove’s and Anne. The eldest Musgrove sisters, Louisa and Henrietta pull out the Navy List to find out which ships Captain Wentworth had commanded. It is a calculated move of flirtation on their part. He is looking for a wife, and any pretty girl who shows a passing interest in the Navy will be sure to catch his eye.

The Royal Fleet

Here’s an example of a real listing from the Navy List:

  • Wallib, Sir P. W. P., Mid. of “Cleopatra” when captured by the French frigate ” Villede Milan,” after a long action, 1805; Lieutenant of “Curieux,” and cut out a vessel in St. Ann’s Bay, Guadeloupe ; subsequently wrecked, in “Curieux” on the enemy’s coast…

So now you have it,  two list, the Baronetage and the Navy List. The  Linked-in and Facebook of the day if you please. By having a character read one verses the other I’m giving you a hint as to where their values lie. The older establishment members of society clung to the Baronetage, while the up and coming youngsters liked to read the Navy List.


While at Uppercross my characters take a long November walk. Captain Wentworth is deep in conversation with the pretty Miss Musgroves, and pays no attention to Anne. Her goal, as usual, is not to be in any body’s way, and any pleasure she is to get from the walk “must arise from the exercise” and the beautiful autumn day which she describes as “the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges.”  You’ll forgive my gentle echos of the romantic poetry of Byron, Wordsworth and Scott, and the sonnets of Shakespeare. Anne is 27, and I wrote it when I was nearly 40, we are both in the Autumn of our lives — caution and reserve in love as young women has lead us to loneliness and regret as we’ve grown older — and it is particularly tender that we find solace from the beauty in a fall day, is it not?


The Literary Allusions really start sailing when the group travels to Lyme to visit Captain Wentworth’s  friends  Captain Harville and Captain Benwick. Benwick was to marry Harville’s sister Fanny but the young woman died while he was at sea. Benwick, heartbroken takes solace only in long walks along the cobb and in reading depressing poetry.  Anne, no stranger to self punishment, joins him in conversation about literature as they discuss Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake” and  his “Marmion: A Tale of Flooden Field”

The Lady of the Lake is a narrative poem. Although it enjoys the same name of an Arthurian legioned it doesn’t share the same material as the Once and Future King.

“Marmion” tells how Lord Marmion lusts for the innocent Clara. Marmion  conspires with Constance a fallen nun, to implicate Clara’s fiancé, Sir Ralph De Wilton, in treason. De Wilton looses a duel goes into exile.  Clara takes refuge in a convent to escape Marmion’s advances. Constance is abandoned by Marmion and she ends up being walled – up – alive in the convent for breaking her vows. But she redeems herself by giving witness to De Wilton’s innocence. He returns and seeks his revenge at the Battle of Flooden Field.  Marmion dies in the combat, while De Wilton displays heroism … regains his honor … retrieves his lands … and marries Clara!  

Both poems are long and exciting, and were well known in in my circle, but “Marmion” has the added benefit of being about two lovers unjustly torn apart for years. Sound familiar?

So, Anne hopes to be of some use to her new friend by encouraging a “larger allowance of prose in his daily study.” She suggest works of the best moralists, … “calculated to rouse and fortify the mind.” … Then wonders ironically at her being able to preach patience and resignation when, after so many years of both, she is currently feeling very little of either.

1.12 The next day as their party is taking their last walk along the Cobb, Captain Benwick draws near Anne. When he says “Lord Byron’s ‘dark blue seas’ could not fail of being brought forward by their present view.”  I’m alluding of course to Byron’s poem “Chile Harold’s Pilgrimage” …

He that has sailed upon the dark blue sea,
Has viewed at times, I ween, a full fair sight;
When the fresh breeze is fair as breeze may be,
The white sails set, the gallant frigate tight,
Masts, spires, and strand retiring to the right,
The glorious main expanding o’er the bow,
The convoy spread like wild swans in their flight,
The dullest sailer wearing bravely now,
So gaily curl the waves before each dashing prow.

… Anne and Benwick give their full attention to both poem and scenery until it is drawn away when Louisa is injured.

Mathew Prior

Anne attends to the invalid as others loose their heads. Anne, ever anxious to be of use, is ready to stay and nurse Louisa, who is now clearly Captain Wentworth’s favorite. The passage: “Without emulating the feelings of an Emma towards her Henry, she would have attended on Louisa with a zeal above the common claims of regard, for his sake…”  refers to Matthew Prior’s  “Henry and Emma”  a ballad based on the much earlier “The Nut-Brown Maid.”

As Beauty’s Potent Queen, with ev’ry Grace
That once was Emma’s, has adorn’d Thy Face;
And as Her Son has to My Bosom dealt
That constant Flame, which faithful Henry felt:


In the second volume of the novel I move the action, alas, to Bath. Here my critical eyes are wide open and looking everywhere as I skewer society’s witless and vain. With the Elliots I find easy fodder. In Chapter Three Mr. Elliot, Anne’s Cousin, and heir to Kellynich Hall, pays a late night visit to the family at Camden-place. I neatly set the time of the visit with the phrase “The elegant little clock on the mantle-piece had stuck ‘eleven with its silver sounds” an allusion to Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock”.

Thrice rung the Bell, the Slipper knock’d the Ground,
And the press’d Watch return’d a silver Sound.

“The Rape of the Lock” is a mock-epic poem. Forgive me if I join Mr. Pope in lampooning Society. In Bath one must fine one’s sources of amusement where one can.


It comes to pass that Captain Wentworth also winds up in Bath. When Anne, her family and Frederick all show up at the same concert Anne attempts to get a seat that will let her both keep an eye on the Captain and allow herself to be seen by him. “She could not do so, without comparing herself with Miss Larolles, the inimitable Miss Larolles …” is a reference to  a character from Fanny Burney’s 1782 novel “Cecilia.”  There is some synergy between the books as both Anne and Cecilia have a parent obsessed with social rank center, and both their families live beyond their means. Miss Larolles, a member of the Ton, takes measures to explain the best place sit at the opera if one is to enjoy oneself.

“Do you know” says Miss Larolles “Mr Meadows has not spoke one word to me all the evening, though I am sure he saw me, for I sat at the outside on purpose to speak to a person or two that I knew would be strolling about; for if one sits on the inside there’s no speaking to a creature; you know so I never do it at the opera… It’s the shockingest thing you can conceive, to be made sit in the middle of these forms one might as well be at home for nobody can speak to one.” 

I just adored “Cecilia.” I mention it in both Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, and even borrowed the title of Pride and Prejudice from a passage near the end of the novel.


The final Literary Allusion in Persuasion is to The Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Anne’s friend, Mrs. Smith, has informed her of Mr. Elliot’s true nature, but she must wait before she reveals it. “Her faith was plighted, and Mr. Elliot’s character, like the Sultaness Scheherazade’s head, must live another day.” Scheherazade, of course, kept her head by telling a new story to the Sultan every night.  Thus both The Thousand and One Arabian Night and Persuasion are stories of deferral, with Anne’s taking seven years to come to fruition.

In the end the Sultan was so entranced with Scheherazade that he did not kill her…

… His mind had become softened, and he was convinced of the great merit and good sense of the Sultana Scheherazade.  He well recollected the courage with which she voluntarily exposed herself to destruction, in becoming his queen.”

He had become very much PERSUADED, indeed.

If in some small measure I have managed to illuminate the great works that have influenced me I will be most pleased. And I hope that the next time you lift the pages of this novel you will discover the hidden gems in my beloved Persuasion.

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