In Honor of Memorial Day

Today we remember those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of our country; further, we honor all who have served in our armed forces. In light of Memorial Day, today’s post is in honor of Kenneth Roberts and his service to the United States.  During WWI, Roberts served in the Siberian Expeditionary Force in 1918-1919 as Captain in the Intelligence Service. The picture below (obtained from here) is of Roberts’ headstone. Interestingly, though Roberts was a diehard Maine native, he chose not to be buried in his beloved state, but as a soldier in Arlington Cemetery (West, 1962, p. 99).

Kenneth Roberts' Headstone at Arlington Cemetery.

Kenneth Roberts’ Headstone at Arlington Cemetery. Courtesy Ron Williams.

Kenneth Roberts on the Web: QuaintBookShop.com

Collectors of Kenneth Roberts’ works will soon have another online book store to peruse for Roberts collectibles. Quaint Book Shop is an online book store that specializes in out-of-print and antiquarian books. According to their “About” page:

Quaint Book Shop is an online shop with a select inventory of used, out-of-print and antiquarian books on a wide range of subjects. Specialties include American national, regional and local history, limited and first edition books of Kenneth Roberts, vintage young adult chapter books and children’s illustrated books, particularly Little Golden Book first editions.

We provide complete descriptions of each book and pictures of many. We do not use stock images; the images are of the actual book. If you have any questions about any book listed, require further information on a book’s state or condition or would like additional photographs, feel free to contact us.

Quaint Book Shop even has a page dedicated to Kenneth Roberts’ works, including his works prior to his historical novels. As of today, there are no books listed for sale. However, it appears that Quaint Book Shop is fairly new (started within the last four years or so it appears), so check in often to see when Roberts’ works are listed.

Another feature this site offers that I find rather helpful is their “For Collectors” page. This page serves as a reference page to other sites that provide such useful information as how to determine the condition of an antique book, how to grade books, book terminology, how to identify first editions, and much more.

Be sure to visit this site for not only future Kenneth Roberts sales, but for other books and helpful collectors information.

Kenneth Roberts in Current News: KHS’ “Sincerely Yours”

For those in and around Kennebunkport, ME, or for those heading up there any time soon, the Kennebunkport Historical Society is displaying a collection of historical letters from Kennebunkport locals and well-knowns, including Kenneth Roberts. Here is the advertisement found in the “Local Arts” section of The Village:

Kennebunkport Historical Society, 125 North St., Kennebunkport. “Sincerely Yours,” a collection of letter spanning Kennebunkport’s history, including those of Booth Tarkington, Kenneth Roberts, U.S. presidents, local families and war letters home. Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information call, 967-2751.

If you happen to visit this exhibit, let us know what you thought of it (particularly the Roberts letters)!

In the Interwebs: Historical Novel Society

My apologies for the lack of posts lately. I thought I would have all sorts of free time after graduation; however, it seems that work (grading, setting up classes, student counseling, writing projects) fills in any “free time.” I am, though, thinking through what constitutes historical fiction (or the historical novel); I’ve been reading Leon Uris’ Trinity this past week and I tell you, I’ve finally found a historical novel that has lived up to the style of Kenneth Roberts. As such, my brain has been going 90-to-nothing lately about historical fiction in general and how this genre can be (and is, in my opinion), a great vehicle for teaching history (something that Kenneth Roberts believed). I plan on writing a post shortly to this end.

As I’ve been doing some we searches, I came across the website for the Historical Novel Society. This website is a great resource for current and past historical novels, articles and speeches given regarding the nature of historical novels, and much more. I’ve not had a chance to look through the site in fine detail, but what I’ve seen is solid work. A particularly helpful article is adapted from a speech by Sarah Johnson of Eastern Illinois University in 2002 titled Defining the Genre: What are the rules for historical fiction? In short, she discusses the bad rap historical novels receive among the press and the lack of a consensus over a definition of “historical fiction.” Johnson concludes:

You may notice that I haven’t completely answered the question of what makes a novel “historical.” I hope this is something that we as authors and readers can continue to speak about. There may never be an exact definition, but I don’t think it prevents us from appreciating the genre any less. And as for more on the elements of a successful historical novel, I’ll leave it to the author members of this panel to continue this discussion. Thank you.

Certainly I don’t seek to definitively answer the question myself, but I hope in the near future to explore the value of historical fiction as a legitimate means of teaching history. What better way to engage one’s mind in learning than by appealing to one’s senses and emotions through narration as opposed to the dry, stilted text books? More to come…

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