Kenneth Roberts in the News: New Hampshire’s Mystery Stone

The longer you study a person and their work, the more you’re surprised where they pop up. Today, I came across an article written by Ray Duckler at the Concord Monitor, titled “The Mystery Stone Remains a Mystery. What Do You Think?“, dated April 27, 2017.

In this article, Duckler discusses a mysterious stone discovered by Seneca Ladd in 1872 in a New Hampshire field. The stone is egg-shaped and contains several images sculpted on the surface of the stone. Duckler provides a helpful summary:

It has eight carvings on four sides, including an oval face that looks like a TV alien; an ear of corn and a circle with what looks like a deer’s leg and hoof, a crown-shaped figure and what might be a bee inside the circle; intersecting arrows, a crescent shape (moon?), dots and a spiral, and a teepee above a perfectly rounded circle.

(To avoid any copyright infringement, see the images provided in the article linked above.)

The stone has been of interest since its discovery, even attracting the attention of Kenneth Roberts. According to Duckler, Kenneth Roberts “wrote about it.” Unfortunately, that’s all Duckler says of Roberts. We’re not told when Roberts wrote about the stone, or where he wrote about it. What is the title of the work containing Roberts’ discussion of the stone? And so on….

So, I am left with a mystery about the Mystery Stone…where does Roberts write about this object of interest? I am on the hunt, so hopefully there will be more to share soon!

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)!

Kenneth Roberts in Current News: Rick Salutin’s “Simcoe Day”

Today’s installment of “Kenneth Roberts in Current News” comes to you from http://www.rabble.ca in an article by Rick Salutin titled “Simcoe Day: How Should We Celebrate a Myopic Vision of Canada,” published on 8/4/2014. The subject of the article is John Graves Simcoe who, according to wikipedia.org, was a British army officer and, from 1791-1796, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. Simcoe was also instrumental in helping establish what is now Toronto and in “introducing institutions such as the courts, trial by jury, English common law, freehold land tenure, and the abolition of slavery” (wikipedia.org/wiki/john_graves_simcoe).

Salutin’s article provides a brief summary of Simcoe’s contributions to Canada, as well as his tribulations. In addition to the accomplishments listed above, Simcoe was “accused of atrocities, always hard to sort out in wartime, like massacring prisoners and trying to assassinate Washington” (Salutin, para. 4). After being captured in the British defeat at Yorktown, he was shipped back to England where he married an heiress and began his political career. He would eventually seek to make Canada a recreation of “genteel English society,” which would serve as a “beacon for the U.S., who’d forsake their own revolution and rejoin the Empire” (Salutin, para. 4).

Earlier this year, AMC aired Turn: Washington’s Spies, which tells of”‘America’s first spy network'” during the Revolutionary War. In the show, Simcoe is depicted as a “magnificent British villain…he sneers, he taunts, he tortures, he kills” (Salutin, para. 2). Salutin confesses that, despite being an “Ontario history buff,” he was not aware that Simcoe was a player in the American Revolutionary War (Salutin, para. 2). Yet, he was aware of the United Empire Loyalists – those Americans who settled in British colonies (in particular Canada) during or after the Revolutionary War (wikipedia.org/wiki/united_empire_loyalists).

Salutin recounts that he first heard of the United Empire Loyalists and their creating “Anglo Canada after the revolution” from Kenneth Roberts’ Oliver Wiswell which he read when in high school. He also notes that he read Rabble in Arms as well. An interesting connection between Simcoe and Kenneth Roberts that Salutin brings out is that Simcoe “took over a renowned/infamous unit called Roger’s Rangers (Roberts also wrote a novel on them) and renamed them the Queen’s Rangers. Their colours sit in Fort York today” (Salutin, para. 3).

Salutin’s description of Roberts does little justice to Roberts’ contribution to American history and historical fiction writing. Salutin says of Roberts: “Roberts was a cranky conservative in the heyday of American liberalism” (Salutin, para. 2). While Roberts’ cantankerousness and his strong conservative views are well-documented, Salutin’s description really accomplishes nothing in his brief discussion of Roberts works; I fail to see what connection he tries to make here.[1] Nevertheless, I believe that Salutin highlights a point about Kenneth Roberts’ works – despite their having been written over a half-century ago, they are still of historical value even today. While Roberts’ conservative views may be outdated, the historical contribution he made to American history stands the test of time.

Though Salutin laments how Canadians sometimes have to learn from Americans about Canadian history, I appreciate his article, for its Canadian author has taught this American something he did not know about American history.

 

[1] Rick Salutin’s bio on rabble.ca states that “he is a strong advocate of left wing causes” (http://rabble.ca/category/bios/contributor/columnist/rick-salutin). It’s common when one writes on someone of opposing views to make some remark that distances himself from his subject. Perhaps Salutin’s comment is such an attempt. Still, his remark does not serve the point he seeks to make, particularly in the paragraph in which his remark occurs. It is true that one cannot separate the subject’s personal beliefs and views from their works, there are instances such as this where can focus on the subject’s work apart from their overarching worldview. If the article touched on issues of race and immigration (issues on which I strongly disagree with Roberts), for instance, then it would be fair for Salutin to make the remark he does in “Simcoe Day.”

Kenneth Roberts in Current News: “Locke’s Mills” in The Bethel Citizen

Bethel, Maine

Bethel, Maine

Today’s “Kenneth Roberts in Current News” comes from The Bethel Citizen and a piece titled “Locke’s Mills” by Betsey Foster in which, it appears, Ms. Foster provides tidbits of news from the surrounding area.  In today’s piece, Ms. Foster makes mention of Kenneth Roberts.  What I found interesting about Ms. Foster’s piece is that Kenneth Roberts would visit a local farm of a friend to do some of his writing for the Post.

Kenneth Roberts, author of the novels “Arundel,” “Rabble in Arms,” “Northwest Passage” and more, came to an old farm in Ketchum to write his columns for The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. As the story goes, Roberts’ friends, who owned the farm, would drag him up here from Kennebunk, Maine, for a “sobering” few days so he could get the article written.

I find such tidbits of information fascinating, as it gives us a glimpse into the goings on of Kenneth Roberts – stuff you won’t find in scholarly works or biographical works.

Rocky Pastures: Paula Robinson Rossouw Highlighed in York County Coast Star

It’s hard to believe that the Design Show House (by the Kennebunkport Historical Society) is almost upon us!  This past month has been a whirlwind of work and school for me, and as I sit here grading, I am floored by the realization that the Show House begins this Friday!

Back at the end of May, Paula Robinson Rossouw, friend of this blog and a great resource, was interviewed by the York County Coast Star in their series on the various designers for the Design Show House at Rocky Pastures (click here for the article, “Design With an Author in Mind”).  The article highlights Paula’s inspiration for her design and some unique artifacts that will be a part of the design.

While this is a great read (the whole series has been a great read; it’ll be interesting to see photos of the finished product), Paula provided me further insight into her design concept that helps to clarify the article:

Kenneth Roberts once said of his historical novels: I wanted to give the people of Maine an honest, detailed and easily understood account of how their forebears got along.” 

Paula Robinson Rossouw wanted to do the same for Kenneth Roberts: the living room and terrace at Rocky Pastures have been designed as a tribute to the famous author’s life, interests and keen sense of humor.

To represent his love of nature and his abiding belief in the advantages of dowsing, the living room has been transformed into a garden room! Plants, trees and lichen-covered stone from the estate form the backdrop to period furnishings that echo the layout of the living room during Kenneth Roberts’s lifetime.

As a historical reference point, an oil on canvas by Parisian artist Stéphanie Lecomte depicts the room as it once was. The bookshelves hold many of Kenneth Roberts’s favorite titles, thanks to William T. Graves Memorial Library. Two books from the author’s personal collection and several magazines from the Thirties featuring his articles are just some of the many treasures on display. Most items are for sale – except for certain library books and two original photographs on loan from the Brick Store Museum.

Paula Robinson Rossouw is an international interior designer. Her private and corporate clients have included Sir Richard Branson and Virgin. She is a published author and a former columnist for the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph in London. She has contributed articles to numerous publications over the years, including a Master Class for Move or Improve magazine.*

One thing that I’ve been impressed about with Paula is her love of Kenneth Roberts and her drive to know Roberts not just as an author (though a great author he was!), but Roberts the man, for he was curmudgeonly but humorous, intensely private but a loyal friend, and so much more. With this in mind, the title of the article in the York County Coast Star is much more than a catchy title – it’s the heart of Paula’s motivation and purpose of her design.

Again, if you’re in Kennebunkport between June 23 and July 14, take time to stop by Rocky Pastures to see the Design Show House.  Also stop by the Kennebunkport Historical Society, the Brick Store Museum, and other great local establishments devoted to the history of Kennebunkport and the great state of Maine.

K.R. in the News: Writer and Lover of Good Maine Food

I came across a neat article by Susan Lovell at The Forecaster that discusses Marjorie Moser (Roberts’ niece) and her recipe for fish chowder.  It seems that a new edition of Good Maine Food has been published recently with a new forward by Sandra Oliver, who, according to the article, is a food historian from Maine.  Ms. Lovell provides a kind word for Good Maine Food towards the end of the article:

But “Good Maine Food” is truly an excellent cookbook. I just happened to be amused by the recipes for cooking liver. Many of the recipes were sent to Roberts by people who read his “Trending into Maine,” published in 1930, in which he reminisced about dishes served to him during his youth. Mosser used those recipes and added new favorites as times and tastes changed.

Ms. Lovell also provides a brief bio of Roberts and his recipe for his grandmother’s ketchup, one of Roberts’ favorite recipes if I’m not mistaken.

Here is a link to the new edition of Good Maine Food.

Kenneth Roberts – a man known for his exceptional writing … and his love for good Maine food.

K.R. In Current News: 300th Anniversary of the Wreck of the Nottingham Galley

The Maine State Museum is honoring the 300th anniversary of the wreck of the Nottingham Galley, the subject of Kenneth Roberts’ Boone Island.  Take a look at the brief write up of the exhibit here.  If you’re in Maine, go visit and let me know how it is!

*Update: Here is a blog post on Kenneth Roberts’ account of the Nottingham Galley wreck, which particularly focuses on the cannibalism that occured while the men were stranded on the island.

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