Episode 64: Beatrix Potter

Posted 26 March 2016 by
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Once upon a time there were four little rabbits with very familiar names who knew a quiet girl named Beatrix Potter. Beatrix loved animals, nature and art…and one day she would make them the most famous rabbits in the world.

Beatrix, 1913 (wikicommons)

Beatrix, 1913 (wikicommons)

Helen Beatrix Potter was born July 26, 1866 to Rupert and Helen Potter. Her little brother, Bertram, was born six years later. Rupert was professionally a lawyer, but recreationally an art collector and amateur photographer. Helen was involved in some philanthropic organizations and ran a very tight ship (trying to be nice here).

Beatrix and Helen. She wasn't a mean, horrible, abusive mother she was just hired the right staff so she could be protective by proxy.

Beatrix and Helen. She wasn’t a mean, horrible, abusive mother she simply hired the right staff so she could be protective by proxy.

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Episode 63: Catherine the Great Part Two

Posted 4 March 2016 by
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When we last left the Grand Duchess Catherine, she was feeling alone, unloved and unnecessary. She had just given birth and the child, Paul, heir to the Russian Empire, was ripped from her arms to be raised by Empress Elizabeth. Not cool, Elizabeth, not cool at all.

Still a Grand Duchess (wikimedia commons, public domain)

Still a Grand Duchess (wikimedia commons, public domain)

Catherine’s postpartum solitude did afford her time to read…and think…and plan. Elizabeth wasn’t getting any younger and it wasn’t that hard to imagine Peter as a very inept Czar. All of Catherine’s reading about historic rulers and enlightened thinkers was helping form ideas on how best to rule Russia. Once she stepped back out into society she transitioned from, “Charming But Decorative” to “Charming and Fierce.” She began to not only call out people who wronged her, but –in Survivor terms– she played a really strong social game. She spotted her allies and brought them into her circle, and the rest? She kept track of their moves, distanced herself when necessary, played them when required and kept them guessing. Smile. Charm. Don’t let them see you scheme.

Good plan. (more…)

Episode 62: A Conversation with Carol Wallace

Posted 5 February 2016 by
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Life. It’s funny, you know? Like the time both of us were sick for so long that we couldn’t record Catherine the Great Part 2 for this week’s show but, instead, have this conversation between Beckett and Carol Wallace?

Funny in a “well, that’s a little different” way.

In 2010 one of us- Beckett- wanted to hear a podcast like her favorite book of all time, To Marry an English Lord, by Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace, but couldn’t find one. So we made one.

In 2014 we had drinks with Carol Wallace.

In 2015 this conversation was recorded and lived in a computer until now.

The book that inspired this podcast AND Downton Abbey!

The book that inspired this podcast AND Downton Abbey!

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Episode 61: Catherine the Great, Part One

Posted 22 January 2016 by
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Every once and again we hold a Guaranteed Content poll so that you, the listeners, can pick a subject for us. This time you chose well, nay, you chose great and this is that episode! Actually, it’s TWO episodes devoted to the life, loves, power and accomplishments of Catherine the Great.

Grand_Duchess_Catherine_Alexeevna_by_I.P._Argunov_after_Rotari_(1762,_Kuskovo_museum)

 

Catherine the Great didn’t start out life very great and she didn’t start out as a Catherine either. *deep breath* Sophia Auguste Frederike von Anhalt- Zerbst was born on April 21, 1792 (or May 2nd if you’re using a a Gregorian calendar) in Stettin, Prussia (now Szczecin, Poland). She was the first child of Christian August who was a frugal, minor prince of a minor principality, and Joanna Elizabeth of Holstein- Gottorp, an entitled princess who felt she had been married off poorly.

Papa Christian and Mama Joanna

Papa Christian and Mama Joanna

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Episode 60: Four Inventors

Posted 12 December 2015 by
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Lillian Gilbreth inspired us. After talking about her life and accomplishments, we thought it was high time to introduce you to four more problem-solving women whose inventions we use every day: Josephine Cochrane, Melitta Bentz, Mary Phelps Jacobs and Hedy Lamarr.

 

Chapter One: The Dishwasher

Josephine Cochrane was tired of her china being chipped during hand washing…so she invented the modern dishwasher and was granted a patent for it in 1886! Cochrane_J

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Episode 59: Lillian Gilbreth

Posted 28 November 2015 by
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Lillian Gilbreth should be remembered for any of her life accomplishments: psychologist, industrial engineer, author, inventor, and pioneer in the field of industrial psychology. From her collection of degrees to her equal partnership marriage to her work with Presidents and to the trailblazing example she set for us modern mothers…she should be remembered for a lot more than simply, “the mother on Cheaper by the Dozen”.

Let’s do something about that.

 

Lillian Gilbreth, circa 1920s, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth papers, MSP 7, Box 126, Folder 4, Courtesy Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

Lillian Gilbreth, circa 1920s,   Courtesy Frank and Lillian Gilbreth papers, (MSP 7, Box 126, Folder 4)  Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries

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Episode 58: Mary, Queen of Scots

Posted 13 November 2015 by
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Mary, Queen of Scots had a good start: she was wearing the crown early and upgraded it at a young age under the watchful eye of many an interested party but once she started making decisions for herself? Ah, that’s when her life took dramatic twists and turns that ultimately took the crown off her head. Actually, those decisions got her whole head taken off, but let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Mary Stuart about age 16  wedding the Francis and before her life turned quite contrary. "MaryStuartbyClouet" by François Clouet - Royal CollectionNative nameRoyal Collection of the United KingdomLocationUnited KingdomEstablishedafter 1491Websitewww.royalcollection.org.uk. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MaryStuartbyClouet.jpg#/media/File:MaryStuartbyClouet.jpg

Mary Stuart about age 16 before her life turned quite contrary.
(François Clouet – Royal Collection via Wikimedia Commons)

Once upon a time in a rugged Renaissance land lived a king and a queen… (more…)

Episode 57: Q & A and Random Bits Show

Posted 5 October 2015 by
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Heeeeere’s your seven word summary: We asked, you responded and we answer.

For the first time in the five years that we have been doing this show we sat down with a couple of glasses of wine to deviate from our normal format and answer some of your questions. We had asked for them and you delivered! From questions about specific episodes to hypothetical situations and research methods to some semi-personal questions…we answered them all. We even revealed some of the names on our extraordinarily long list of future subjects and did a really bad job of keeping our next subject secret. (In vino veritas and all)

We thought that this cocktail party chatter was a perfect way to give our new audio recording system the proper welcome that it deserves. Isn’t it pretty?

ooooh!

Ooooh!

Ahhhhh!

Ahhhhh! (Cool lamp in both of these shots)

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Episode 56: Dorothy Parker, Part Two

Posted 30 August 2015 by
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dorothyparker framed

 

When we left Dorothy Parker in Part One she was hanging on tenuously at best. Her marriage to Eddie Parker was over, her relationship with George MacArthur was over and the fall-out somewhat stabilized and her suicide attempt was unsuccessful. Professionally she was cobbling together a career as a freelance writer but powered by a steady diet of alcohol she was dancing on the edge.

It was the wild 20s, afterall. (No, this isn't Dorothy)

It was the wild 20s, afterall. (No, this isn’t Dorothy, but you knew that)

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Episode 55: Dorothy Parker, Part One

Posted 8 August 2015 by
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She gave us fabulous quotes like, “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses” and “Brevity is the soul of lingerie,” but Dorothy Parker’s life wasn’t all wit and snark. Behind those flip one liners there was a very complex woman who lead a full life far beyond the banter of the Algonquin Round Table.

Dorothy ParkerHow complex was she and how full was her life? It’s going to take two episodes, that’s how much. (It’s okay, we were a little surprised, too.)

It was a dark and stormy night (what? It was!) when Dorothy Rothschild was born in West End, New Jersey at her family’s summer house on August 22, 1893. Her father Henry had fallen in love and married the girl next door, Eliza, and the pair had three children before Dorothy came along. They lived fairly affluently in New York; life as a Rothschild (not those Rothschilds) was very comfortable. (more…)