Kenneth Roberts in the Blogosphere: Historical Novels on “Arundel”

This morning while trolling Google for anything Kenneth Roberts related, I came across a great blog titled “Historical Novels.” According to the welcome message on the home page, the site “may interest those who enjoy historical fiction AND take the history seriously. I confess that I’m the sort who is outraged when a new historical novel or film takes liberties with known historical facts – for no good reason (sometimes there are good reasons). To that end, novels are rated on five criteria – posed as questions.”

I’ve actually been thinking lately of reading more historical fiction novels, but I’ll be honest, I’m rather hesitant to do so because I am unfamiliar with any other historical fiction writer. Hopefully, this blog can rescue me from the doldrums of ignorance.

Back in 2011, “Historical Novels” provided a favorable post for Kenneth Roberts’ Arundel, which you can read here. A link is also provided for what looks to be a very promising website: historicalnovels.info – a website that lists over 5000 historical novels.

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Kenneth Roberts in the Blogosphere: A Few Reads

Ahhh!  The semester is nearly over, and I can now turn to this site!  I apologize for the longer than expected hiatus; after my Ph. D. comps (which I passed!), I was inundated with massive amounts of grading (which finally ended) until this weekend.  Nevertheless, I want to offer some blog links for you to read – blogs that have mentioned Kenneth Roberts – as a means to pass time until I can get a substantive post written.

Boston 1775 on Major Robert Rogers

Major Robert Rogers

With some sadness, I am going to place this site on a quasi-hibernation as I prepare for my Ph. D. comprehensive exams in March.  I’ll occasionally write a post, but I will save any serious posts for after my comps.  In the meantime, take a look at Boston 1775‘s post titled: “A Negro servant Man, belonging to Major Robert Rogers.” While the post does not mention or discuss Kenneth Roberts, it highlights an aspect of a character in one of Kenneth Roberts’ more famous novels, Northwest Passage.  It’s information like this that helps to bring alive the historical figures in Roberts’ novels.

In addition to reading this post, I encourage you to look through the entire Boston 1775 site; it’s a joy to read for all lovers of early American history, primarily in the pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary time period.

Kenneth Roberts in the Blogosphere: Monster Mania and the Northwest Passage

HT: Monster Mania

Though I’ve been a big Kenneth Roberts fan for over twenty years, have sought to own and read all of his books, and began a website devoted to the man and his works, I must confess (ashamedly) that I have never watched the movies based upon his books.  I am not a big fan of movies made in the 1940s-1960s (probably the time period in which movies based on Roberts’ books were produced), and I am not much of a movie fan in general, so I have been reluctant to watch these movies. Perhaps the biggest reason for my reluctance is that I am afraid that I would find the movies too cheesy and/or ruining what Roberts set out to do in his books.  Nevertheless, I know I must watch these movies at some point, but I’ll wait until my Ph. D. is over.

Thankfully, there are blogs and websites that spend time reviewing these movies, and today I would like to highlight Monster Mania, who provides a brief summary of the 1940 film of Northwest Passage starring Spencer Tracy.  What I found interesting is that this was to be a two-part movie series (hence the “Part I” in the title).  For whatever reason, no second part was produced.  (The reason why would be hunt down and know!)  I appreciate the post as it offers a review from a cinematography aspect and numerous screenshots of the movie itself.  Take some time to read this post and enjoy!

Wanting more on Kenneth Roberts?

Are you wanting more on Kenneth Roberts, particularly write-ups on him contemporary to his times? Then follow this link from Google’s news archive search. There’s much to read, so enjoy! I will be pointing out things of interest as I come across them. Until then, have fun!

Kenneth Roberts in the Blogosphere: Dining Chicago and Hot Buttered Rum

It’s interesting where you’ll stumble across mentions of Kenneth Roberts, and today I find Kenneth Roberts mentioned on DiningChicago.com in a post titled “Drink this! Sweet, hot and rummy” by Leah Zeldes.  In this brief post, Leah provides a recipe for hot buttered rum and a brief description of where it originates and where Chicagoans can find it.  Here is Zeldes’ mention of Roberts:

Where it comes from: Hot buttered rum and similar rum toddies were created in Colonial America, and was a favorite tipple of 18th-century politicians, who reportedly plied prospective voters with the hot, spicy beverage. The drink experienced a revival in popularity in the late 1930s, after novelist Kenneth Roberts mentioned it in his bestseller “Northwest Passage.”

Roberts indeed provides a recipe for hot buttered rum in his Good Maine Food, and mentions it often in his novels, particularly in reference to a favorite character of mine – Cap Huff.

Now, it should be mentioned that the recipe Leah provides is not that of Kenneth Roberts. I am looking for this for those who want to know.

Kenneth Roberts in the Blogosphere: Fishermen’s Voice

While searching for tidbits on Kenneth Roberts and his love nature/hunting/fishing, I came across an article written by Tom Seymour of the Fishermen’s Voice, whose subtitle on the webpage states: “News and Comment for and by the Fishermen of Maine.”  What’s of interest to this website is Tom’s article on Kenneth Roberts and the value of his works to American history and to the history of Maine (titled “Kenneth Roberts – Maine’s Contribution to American History”).

In this article, Seymour provides a general survey of Roberts’ writing career, particularly of the novels Roberts’ is most known for.  However, in this article, Seymour provides some tidbits of Roberts that I found intriguing and humorous:

Kenneth Roberts had a habit, according to his friend Ben Ames Williams, another great, Maine author, of believing what people told him. That innocence nearly cost him his life when, going on the word of acquaintances that skunk cabbage was edible, he put the thing to the test. Skunk cabbage only presents itself as edible when in a 100-percent dry state, something that requires not only tedious processing, but also takes one year or more to achieve. Otherwise, the plant excites such a fiery sensation in the mouth and further down the esophagus, that it can, indeed, prove deadly.

This annecdote is a great glimpse at Kenneth Roberts the man, whose intensity is matched only by few (in my opinion).

Seymour speaks highly of Roberts and his ability (rightly so).  He says of Roberts’ works:

Young people, from the 1930s to the present time, have cut their “history teeth” on the thought provoking, intense and suspenseful novels written by Kenneth Roberts, of Kennebunkport, Maine.

While I think it is true that students in the past cut their teeth on Roberts’ novels, I tend to think that it’s not so much the case any more these days as it’s rare to find someone who has at least heard of him, much less have read his novels.  Nevertheless, Seymour rightly points out that Roberts’ works is still of value today in that:

Roberts’ contribution to educating the youth (and older people as well) of America lies in his unerring historical accuracy and an innate ability to make interesting and immensely entertaining reading of what otherwise might remain dry, historical side notes.

This is a great read, even if you already know of Roberts’ and his contribution.  Thanks, Tom, for helping to keep alive the works of a great author!

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