Writing this blog is a source of great joy. I have been endlessly inspired by the example of Elizabeth Hamilton. Immersing myself in the life of a person with such impeccable character–especially at a time when “newsworthy” people do not often arouse confidence or respect—has been a welcome escape from the evening news and the onslaught of ugly political debate on social media. I have loved reading and writing all my life, but having worked for 32 years as a college tutor, teacher and administrator, for far too long my writing was centered on academic projects: grants, evaluations, dissertations, and assessments. Now that I have retired from that work, I am liberated, free to write from sheer inspiration and plain, unadulterated interest. I hope you will find Elizabeth’s story as captivating as I have.
In the spirit of full disclosure: I am not an historian. My background is English and Education. I am very much an amateur, so I will take you along with me as I travel to historic sites, do some research, and try to find information that is oftentimes elusive. If you are kind enough to read and have some sources that may be beneficial for me, please send me a comment or two. This blog is a journey of discovery. I do not claim vast historical knowledge by any means. So, feel free to read critically, to question and instruct.
This blog is also, well, a blog. It’s not a history text and it’s not meant to be the definitive guide to Elizabeth Hamilton. I would not presume to know all that historical scholars may have unearthed. Also, as a blog, I believe the material should be more conversational. I will try to weave into it commentary that relates historical events to happenings in the news. Some of it may be serious; other times my comments will be more whimsical. Clearly, the comments are my opinion only. You are welcome to agree or disagree, but I hope the entries will encourage you to think, to laugh, to learn, and overall, to question.
More about me: My love of reading started early, with the Little House books and Alcott’s Little Women. During my tween years, I read Gone with the Wind on a loop; as soon as I read the last page, I’d start again at chapter one. Almost every week my older brother would lend me books with subjects that were sometimes over my too-immature and inexperienced head. I would retreat to my room, doing my best to grasp sophisticated themes, sometimes reading whole books in a single night: Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Hemingway’s The Sun also Rises, Goldman’s Lord of the Flies, and every Shakespearean play. (I was such a book nerd, at fifteen I faked a sore throat so I could stay home from school and read his Folger’s copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.)
And while reading was one of our favorite pastimes, music was our first love. Through him, I was exposed to music of all kinds—Laura Nyro and Joni Mitchell, the Beatles and Chicago, Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; classical music—Mozart and Bach were his favorites– as well as opera. Listening to Puccini’s Tosca became a regular occurrence. We would lie on the floor, the libretto spread out in front of us, and follow the side-by-side Italian with English translations, our emotions swelling with the rise and fall of the impassioned arias.
And then there was musical theater. Every summer night we would wedge his speakers in the bedroom window, then crawl through it, and, sitting there on the roof night after night, we’d sing along as show tunes wafted across the neighborhood. We knew every word of all the popular shows. Our favorites were Funny Girl, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, and later Godspell and Pippen. Going to Broadway plays together were rare treats in those days and became some of our most cherished memories. It’s fair to say that, without his influence, I might never have gone to see Hamilton. Because of him, on some level, then, I was introduced to Elizabeth Hamilton.
Here is a very old, grainy photo (actually an iPhone shot of an old Polaroid, so forgive its decrepit condition) of me and my brother in 1969. I was 14; he was 17.
Today, I have two extraordinary adult children and children-in-law, Paul and Christina, and Sara and Ryan, and three cherished granddaughters, Cecilia, Carina and Ani. My family is the source of my deep love, so with my husband Paul, I spend as much time as I can with them. I am especially grateful to Ryan, without whose technical expertise and generosity, I would never have had a platform on which to post. I am thankful for my whole family, especially my husband Paul and my daughter, Sara, who I’ve dragged to countless museums, operas, and musicals, and who indulge my obsessions with patience and love.