03 April 2010

The Historical Question

At the beginning of the week I asked what question you'd ask which historical person. Then I had to think hard about who I'd ask what.

Richard II sprang to mind [if you've not read Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time, you should], but really I didn't have a question for him. I mean, can you really ask, "were/are you a decent guy?"

I'd like to chat with Teresa of Avila [her autobiography is vibrant], but just chat, no questions.

Maybe ask Shakespeare where he got his ideas and how he managed to write so many plays and sonnets? No, my voice would have an undignified whine of envy.

So many famous figures whirled through my mind--Churchill, Marie Antoinette, Caesar, John the Apostle.

Yet when it came right down to it, the person from history I want to question doesn't have a name. Well, obviously they do. They didn't run nameless through life. But I don't know their name.

I want to ask one of the European women settlers of the Swan River Colony (what became Perth, Western Australia) what those early years were like. Was she scared? What were her dreams? Did she have a social life, laugh, sing, cry? I want to know the experience of someone who lived before me in a place I love.

My question doesn't invalidate my respect for the Nyungar people who land was stolen. I remember that they loved this place first.

The interconnectedness of things fascinates me. I'm a Georgette Heyer fan. The Swan River settlers had all (well, not the very young) lived through the Napoleonic Wars, the backdrop to regency romances.

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