Book Review: The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat (@LizaPerrat) #RBRT #Australian drama #English orphan diaspora

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The Lost Blackbird is the third book by Liza Perrat that I’ve read, the others being The Silent Kookaburra and The Swooping Magpie.  This is my favorite.

Ms. Perrat is an Australian author and she creates the world of that country with wonderful detail and ambience. Here she pays homage to the children brought to Australia from England’s orphanages and care centers in the 1960s, purportedly for a better life. These children were a costly burden to England, and the government’s solution was to ship them off to populate various other countries in its former Empire, often without any documentation of where they came from and whether they were in fact orphans. In Australia they became prisoners, working in slave labor camps with little food, clothing, or education and often beaten, degraded and subject to abuse. This is something I knew nothing about, but it is a story that has to be told.

Five year old Charly and her ten year old sister Lucy are sent to Easthaven Home for Girls in England when their mother is accused of killing their father by pushing him down the stairs and then is sent to prison for her crime. In fact, drunk and in a rage at Charly, he tripped and fell down the stairs, but Charly is too young to understand what had happened.

Easthaven is run in a brutal fashion by unforgiving women, and Lucy considers it a stroke of luck when she and her sister are chosen to go to Australia, freeing them from their awful fate in that institution. After a magical six week trip aboard an ocean liner to Australia, with new clothes, good food, games to play with their fellow migrants, and two women who care for them, Lucy are Charly are wrenched apart on the Sydney docks. Charly is adopted by a privileged family and her new parents do everything in their power to erase her past. Lucy is sent to live at Seabreeze Farm in the interior of the country, where she and some friends she made on the boat live in inhuman conditions, working as slaves, and suffering from lack of food, heat, flies, and the bullying of the sadistic owner of the farm.

As Charly begins to suspect her parents are hiding a secret, Lucy descends into despair and cynicism, although never ceasing to think about Charly and how to find her. How does Lucy survive and will Charly ever learn the truth of her beginnings and the fact she has a sister?

Liza Perrat paints a harsh picture of the orphans’ lives against the brilliant background of Australia. As a reader, my emotions meshed with those of Lucy and I also despaired of her survival, but I read on! I’m glad I did. The story is heart-breaking but told with enormous compassion. The author not only does a wonderful job of presenting the country but also creates well-rounded, real characters whose emotions are easily felt: Charly and Lucy, of course, but also the hate-filled farmer Yates, his beaten wife Bonnie, and the Ashwoods who adopt Charly, both so desperate to replace their dead daughter.

I read the book in two sittings, and it flowed so well and was engrossing that I overlooked the very few places needing line edits. I recommend The Lost Blackbird to everyone with a heart, so everyone!

About the author (from Goodreads)

Liza Perrat grew up in Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.

When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.

I highly recommend her other books set in Australia: The Silent Kookaburra, and The Swooping Magpie.  Friends, Family and Other Strangers also beckons.

Liza Perrat can be found:

On twitter: @LizaPerrat

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Liza-Perrat-232382930192297/

On her website: http://www.lizaperrat.com

The Lost Blackbird can be found on Amazon:

 

Introducing…Muttwits!

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I have fallen in love with Usual Muttwits. Here is a description of the blog by Zozo & Jules.

 

Usual Muttwits follows the misadventures of a diverse community of dogs inhabiting the fictitious Thameside town of Westley Piddle.  The blog features stories on the various muttwit characters and is experienced through their own particular dogs’-eye point of view.

Each story (which is serialized weekly) focuses on one particular muttwit from the pack, forced off his furry butt to do something extraordinary to help out his best mates. What should be a simple enough ask mostly ends up in pure doggerel, lots of ear-flapping, and a quick bite or two of both friend and foe.

The blog is presented in the style of a graphic diary with the manga-inspired illustrations drawn or doodled beside the text which [‘”wot’] is written in a colloquial London voice.

We have created a universe for the muttwits to live and breath. Accompanying the stories the site also features a detailed map of Westley Piddle, an A-Z of illustrated muttwit characters, and a snifz colour chart on how they use their snouts to understand the world around them, and the emotions of humans (called hindlegs throughout). We even have a pub-chat corner (Quick Pint down the Pig&Ferret) where the human companions can vent their frustrations over a pint or two of best bitter.

A brief word about Zozo&Jools:

Zeynep Arpaözü (Zozo) is a blogger cartoonist from Istanbul in her early twenties who currently attends university studying languages; Julian Boyce (Jools) is a copywriter from South London in his early sixties. Collectively, we call ourselves Zozo&Jools. We are two people from different generations, cultures, religions and political ideologies who agree on almost nothing, except for one thing: creating ridiculous doggy stories stuffed with insane characters. It helps that we have both grown up surrounded by a motley crew of dogs and cats. We speak their language – they speak ours!

Why a blog and not a book?

They had just started submitting to literary agents when Covid-19 hit.  It seemed pointless to continue (as unknown writers) in present circumstances, so they converted the first three completed books into serialised stories online.

Thems Usual Muttwits’ is their singular take on the 4x leg vs. 2x leg modern world, as experienced through the sights, sounds and sniffs of a right tight pack of muttwits.

*******

Here is Part I, their first story of Them Muttwits!

Donuts : Part 1

Scratch are on the rise.  A nightmarish cross between furry little doggies and sharp-clawed killing machines.  They’re invading Westley Piddle and something’s gotta be done.  Donuts, the rugby-loving Welsh Terrier, decides enough is enough – at the infamous battle of the Tesco Extra 5 bins.

A particularly fresh-sniffing day in Westley Piddle, that inconsequential town on the Thameslick between Bisham and Cock Marsh. Winter snowlick is melting away as daffodils and croci burst from the ground in Herdwick pooping park, waving about and begging fourlegs to squirtz ‘ems. And wot can be better than that? When a squirtz is all that really matters to a fourlegs, apart from solid noshing, corss.

Trouble is, changing weather is making the bright hot ball in the sky brighter and attracting a lot of unwanted scratch.  It’s no longer safe for a decent fourlegs to go sniffing ‘round abouts the undergrowth and marker posts in the woods, cocking a leg.  Scratch just sit there, watching, waiting. An unspeakable contempt in their malign presence.  Wotz worse, more scratch are appearing in Westley Piddle. The opening of a scratch sanctuary down the far end of Nelson Avenue, close by Tesco Extra, may have something to do with it.

A particularly troublesome snifz is hanging over town and fours are in a tiswas. Ain’t natural!

Helloooo

Hah…hall-ooo

Wotz that snifz?

Snifz lyk bacon at Greggs all day brekkers

Nah, snifz heavy legs to me over on the farms

Muttwits, the loada yuz…that snifz scratch snifz!

“oi,yerlittleWelshbugga” Wynn scritches, holding up a bowl of sausage and scrambled egg

‘yourmomsays,yougottadiet…butafterthis, mate” and drops it down in front of Donuts, the rather large and pudgy Welsh Terrier.

His wet snout is deep into it before the bowl touches the ground.

That’s wot I’m talking about snout vacuums up the breakfast, today’s second breakfast, cleaning the bottom of the bowl before methodically sweeping ‘round the edges all thorough and professional, lyk.

Pork, burnt down one side, just the way I lyk ’ems

He eyeballs Wynn in further expectation of more, his trusted hindlegs companion and food provider. “don’ttellyermom,butI’malsogivingyoumine”

Corss. And Wyn, would be good if brekkers can be a bit, erh, brekkers-faster, next time, right boyo?

Donuts snifz all over the immediate eating area, disappointed to find nothing further except a crumb of sausage stuck in the mat.  He licks over the spot for good measure until noshed.

Right, brekkers ticked off, walkies up next

Handpaws touching the power harness catches his attention.

Gotta get out! Gotta get out! thick curly-haired paws scrabbling for purchase on the tiled floor as he bolts out the kitchen and into the hallway, lassoing himself into the power harness Wynn is holding ready. Unable to check his forward momentum his snout crumples into glass front door.

“easymate” Wynn tugs him back “let’sgetthedooropen,first”

Donuts is into the hall of the apartment block, scrabbling full on towards the lifts.

“..andmakesureyoutakethestairs,Wynn” scritches out Dona packmom from the apartment “he’stoofat!”

I don’t do stairs! Donuts reminds Wynn, waiting at the lift, giving him the eyeball.

Wynn shakes his head and quietly presses the lift call.

PING!

“whatdidIjustsay?” Dona’s faint scritch, making Wynn cringe.

Pooper-scooper at the ready, Wynn wobbles up the path between the communal gardens of the once shabby council tenements, now a spanking renovation project thanks to London’s sprawling hegemony.  This don’t mean a thing to Donuts who’s forever happy to grace the flowerbeds with his poop – and walkways, stairwells or renovated lift, given half the chance.

Keep up, bach he admonishes Wynn who’s wobbling along behind. Wynn stops to sprinkle some monkeynuts under the trees, enjoying feeding the grey furrylegs who scurry all over the place.

Waste of good peanuts and if they weren’t husked, Donuts would nosh thems himself.

A healthy poop later, just on the paving edge and not in the flowerbeds – to keep Wyn sharp, Donuts pulls his companion into Birch Street, down to Nelson Avenue, across the road, and into Herdwick pooping park.

Snifz yu, fat Welsh bast’ad

Snifz yu, One Ear growls Donuts at One Ear, who’s better known as Tuffy, beforenows, but hates to be called One Ear since it was bit off by Big Knickers ‘enry. Who used to be called just plain Henry beforenows, but –

They bump snoutz and wag end bits.

Name’s Tuffy, by the way One Ear replies, hurt.

Ear today, gone tomorra Donut shrugs.

Anyways, watcha doin’ Dog nuts?

Walking Wynn here he flicks his head back, indicating the morose hindlegs at back.

Tuffy sits and idly rubs his belly with all the time in the world.

Catch a load of that scratch snifz he says, snout quivering, one leg daintily cocked.

Donuts snifz the air.  Closest is Tuffy, then a few fourlegs, followed by flaplegs up in the marker posts, and lastly, ad hoc hindlegs wobbling ‘round abouts the park, obviously lost. Even snifz the sap squirting its way up all the marker posts as they prepare to pump leaves out into the spring air. And scratch?

Dog-damnit!!  Tuffy’s right.  A whole pooper-scooper load of scratch snifz!

Up at five bins Tuffy keeps belly rubbing, one paw stuck straight up taking it over, lock, stock and bin, can yu believe?

Thems Tesco Extra five bins? Donuts knows Tuffy is simple. Partly coz he’s a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Mostly coz he only half-hears anything these days.

Yes, Tesco Extra.  Who else got five bins, mate?

Yu havin’ a laugh?

I ain’t.  But they are!

Donuts is aghast. Scratch ‘round thems five bins!

I’ll drag Wyn over and snifz ‘ems

Careful up there Dog nuts.  Scratch’re nasty bas’tads, the load of’ems

Scratch? Donuts scoffs, hauling on Wynn’s lead and leaving Tuffy to sort out his belly rubbing.

“comeonthenDonuts,youneedsomeseriousexcercise,likemomsays”

Scratch taking over Tesco Extra five bins!

Just ain’t natural!

Read more at Muttwits.com

Book Review: Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion #RBRT #sailing adventure #pychological thriller

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The Draca is a vintage sailing cutter built in 1905. Her owner is Eddie Ahlquist, an old man dying of cancer. She lies beached at a marine, slowly falling into decay due to the ravages of time as her owner also fails. Eddie’s grandson, Jack, is a former Marine in his Her Majesty’s armed services, who has returned from service in the Middle East minus a foot and part of his leg, beset with PTSD, and carrying a load of guilt from the deaths of two of his fellow Marines, one who died with him and one who died trying to rescue him. Jack is the one member of the dysfunctional Alquist family who truly cares for Eddie and he tries to spend as much time with him as possible.

Eddie has earned the epithet ‘Mad Eddie” because of his wild sailing of Draca before he became too ill to continue. He had found a four-foot-long piece of ancient timber carved into the neck and head of a snarling dragon which he made into the figurehead for Draca. The figurehead now sits in his garden and Eddie talks to it when Jack is not around, thinking he sees the outline of a huge, looming figure coming through the trees toward his cottage.

When Eddie dies, Jack inherits Draca as well as his grandfather’s cottage, his diaries, and his library of Viking literature. Jack’s father, an overbearing and greedy man with whom Jack has an adversarial relationship for his entire life, does not understand why Eddie’s estate did not go to him and vows to fight Eddie’s will in court.

Jack moves into the cottage while the will is in probate and, with a suggestion that restoring the Draca might help him with his lasting emotional and physical problems, takes out loans against Eddie’s estate. He immediately dives into the difficult work of bringing Draca back to her original condition.  As he does, the serpent figurehead seems to capture his psyche as it had his grandfather’s, and he also sees the looming figure amongst the trees. He is drawn to the figurehead and Draca as if they both have a hold on him.

This is a terrific book on many levels: the struggles of a veteran with physical and emotional baggage for the time of his service; the warped interactions of a family with a bully for a father and husband; Jack’s own crumbling marriage; the exhilaration of sailing, especially on this old, restored schooner; a developing love between Jack and a young woman, George, who runs the boatyard where Draca is moored; and the growing hold of Draca and the figurehead on Jack. There is also interspersed between the chapters excerpts from a Viking story, the ‘saga of King Guthrum,’ with a strong indication that the figurehead derives from a Viking ship in the saga and that it is cursed. Will figurehead claim Jack’s life to satisfy the curse?

The characters are wonderfully created. Jack is a finely tuned rendering of a veteran with PTSD, old Eddie is both loveable and frightening in his final madness, and Harry, Jack’s father, is a villain – perhaps a little heavy-handed, but still believable. George is at the same time both incredibly naïve (she doesn’t recognize when Charlotte, Jack’s wife, tries to draw her into a lesbian affair and that left me scratching my head) and equally brave, as she tries to heal Jack and at the end risks her own life to save him in a horrific storm at sea.

As a sailor, all the descriptions of sailing and the rigging and sails of Draca, especially at sea and in the wind, were both familiar and exciting. This might not be so for someone who has never sailed, although I believe any reader can loosely follow the action.  Having the drawing of Draca for reference was a good help.

In short, this is a rollicking tale, both down to earth and also unearthly, combining many elements into a fine story. I strongly recommend it.

About the author

Geoffrey Gudgion served for over 10 years in the armed forces and made his first attempts at writing fiction during quiet moments on deployment. He later stepped off the corporate ladder, in the midst of a career in marketing and general management, specifically to release time to write. Freelance consultancy paid the bills. His first novel, Saxon’s Bane, reached #1 in Kindle’s ‘Ghost’ category, and he now writes full time. When not crafting words Gudgion is an enthusiastic amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist.

You can find the author

On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/geoff.gudgion

And on his author site: https://geoffreygudgion.com

Draca can be found on Amazon:

 

 

 

 

I’m still here!

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I just realized I haven’t posted since early July. It’s been a tough time because we were getting our home of 35 years ready to sell. Shoveling out years of ‘stuff’ was exhausting and now we are yo-yo-ing in an out with showings.

We hate to leave this wonderful house, but we have another one being built, the new one on one level with a very small yard (we have four acres now).

Our grandson Eli has helped us keep smiling.

On top of this, marketing The Last Pilgrim has become impossible except virtually!

I will return to blogging regularly soon.

 

Happy Fourth of July! Happy Birthday, America!

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HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!

My best wishes to everyone for a safe and enjoyable holiday, as we celebrate our nation’s birthday.

Special thanks today to our military, our police, our firemen, our first responders and all the medical personnel who are still working hard to get us through the pandemic and keep us safe.

A Lovely Review of The Last Pilgrim from Christoph Fischer

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Christoph Fischer has become a good friend via blogging and our initial meeting at the second Blogger’s Bash in London. He is a USA Today and Amazon No 1 bestselling author – of seventeen books! – who now lives in a small town in West Wales with his partner and four Labradoodles. We have agreed that Welsh and Gaelic are both difficult languages!

I am honored to have him review the book.

+++++

“This book is a rich resource of well researched historical facts and a concise re-telling of the story of one of many Mayflower pilgrims.

Noelle describes the characters in a series of narratives that depict the crossing with its difficulties, the landing, the search for a suitable location, the troubles establishing themselves as a village, as neighbours to natives and as a community….

and you can read the rest at

https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

++++++

Thank you, Christoph!

 

New Followers

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From time to time, as my followers know, I like to recognize new followers who have done me the honor of signing up for my posts. THANK YOU!

Delusional Bubble (great moniker!) at https://delusionalbubble.com   – a travel blog

Geoff Le Pard at https://geofflepard.com – a highly imaginative writer and bon vivant. Do check out his blog. It’s occasionally hilarious and always fun!

Short-prose-fiction at https://shortprose.blog Gabriela Marie Milton, poet, 2019 Author Of The Year at Spillwords Press

Rafaelle Schwartzbart who blogs at She Got Wings at https://shegotwings.home.blog/ – a young Brazilian woman who is sharing her beginning at flying – she’s a person trainer

Jane Wertman at https://janetwertman.com  She is a writer of grants and historical fiction and I’ve gotten to know her and have enjoyed – and reviewed – her books over the past year.

Sid Gateux at https://johnnyholidayblog.wordpress.com  Johnny Holiday is the leading character in the Johnny Holiday Mysteries by Sid Gateaux. You can follow at this site.

James Conville, a marine engineer – couldn’t find him online

Prashant Jain from India, whose blog site is under reconstruction.

Michelle Rose who blogs as Shell-Shell’s tips and tricks at https://www.michellescrazybusylife.net/

Blackwings 666 at https://blackwings666.wordpress.com – a blog about Dracula!!!

S.C.Ö  at https://sevgiylebeslenin.com- I believe this is a blog about Turkish cooking

Rebecca Dwight Bruff at https://rebeccabruff.com/ – who has just written a debut novel Trouble the Water that was awarded a First Place/ Gold prize for Debut Fiction, and First Place/Gold Prize for Adult Fiction by The Feathered Quill Book Awards, with a recommendation from the Chair of the Pat Conroy >Literary Center. Brava!

Omar Darwish at https://omardarwishcom.wordpress.com writes a social cultural blog that deals with literature, writing, education, social issues, and aspects of the human personality. It’s in Arabic but there is a translate button and I read a great post on ancient Greek and Roman civilizations

If you are interested in vitamins, this is the blog site for you: https://irvinevitamin.wordpress.com/

Romelia Lungu at https://romelialungu.home.blog . She lives in Romania and reviews books and offers her reflections, luckily some in English because Romanian is not in my limited range of other languages!

Stephen Page at https://smpages.wordpress.com.  He is an award winning, part Shawnee and part Apache author and poet. His books include: The Salty River Bleeds, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. I need to take a look at one of his books.

Krutika toy at https://ktrutika.wordpress.com/ has a really unique blog on business – recent developments in working sites, entrepreneurship etc.

Christine Lucas at https://redpanda08.wordpress.com blogs about travel and nature and fitness, accompanied by wonderful photographs.

Introducing #RBRT Gold, extra-special books that were greatly enjoyed by Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team

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Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team has now been up and running for six years!  I have been one of her book reviewers for much of that time. At first I only read books in my genre, but I gradually expanded to romance, sci-fi and historical fiction. That last is perhaps what gave me the push necessary to write my recent book, The Last Pilgrim, about Mary Allerton Cushman, the oldest survivor of the Mayflower voyage.

The goal of Rosie’s book review team (RBRT) has been to spread the word about novels, novellas, short stories and non-fiction from self-published authors and independent publishers – to showcase talent found outside the mainstream publishing world.

I have had the enjoyment of corresponding with many of these authors about their books, making new friends along the way.

Each month, Rosie is inundated with review requests from authors and publishers alike.  Every book that she accepts is passed on to twenty readers of her team, which is made up of book bloggers, writers, editors, creative writing tutors and people who just love reading.  Most books gain just one or two reviews, but once in a while a gem has come along that piques the interest of several team members, and receives highly favorable reviews across the board.

That is why this week, Rosie’s site is introducing #RBRT Gold, extra-special books that were greatly enjoyed by three or more team members.

Under the title of each book, you can read the team members reviews and the Amazon links to those books are included.  Three in the first list, published tomorrow, are books I reviewed!

This is the link to Monday’s post of the first books. It will go live at 2am UK time https://wp.me/p2Eu3u-fzh

Here is a link to Rosie’s blog https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/

And here is a link to the page about how to join the review team https://wp.me/P2Eu3u-5qu

I highly recommend joining the team – it will challenge your review skills and introduce you to a wide assortment of genres!

Sorry, you have to wait until tomorrow to see what books are on the link!

What Happened to the Mayflower?

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Following on the publication of The Last Pilgrim, I am re-posting the sad story of the fate of the Mayflower.

         The Mayflower II at Sate Pier in Plymouth in 2014, looking a bit worse for the wear

I was a young girl when the Mayflower II, a precise replica of the original 17th-century ship built in Devon, England, during 1955–1956, arrived in Plymouth Harbor in the spring of 1957. My father took us out in a boat to welcome her home. The Mayflower II was moored at State Pier in Plymouth Harbor and open to visitors until 2016, when she was towed to  Mystic, Connecticut, for some long-overdue and extensive repairs.

The newly re-built Mayflower II has been launched and will be back in Plymouth for the quadricentennial celebrations. I am lucky enough to have a piece of one of the original sails of Mayflower II, given to me by the sail master who sewed the new sails.

                                      The refurbished Mayflower II prior to launch.

After launch. Note how small the ship is.

*******

The Mayflower is an iconic ship in the history of America, but did you know it never returned to the New World after it left the Plymouth Colony on April 5, 1621?

mayflower-historyHer captain, Christopher Jones, bought the Mayflower in 1607, together with several business partners. She was a cargo ship, capable of carrying up to 180 tons, and at different time carried lumber, tar, fish, French wine, Cognac, vinegar, or salt.

The home of Master Christopher Jones in Harwich, England

After returning from a voyage to Bordeaux, France, in May 1620, the Mayflower and its master were hired to take the Pilgrims to Northern Virginia.  This was the first recorded trans-Atlantic voyage for both ship and Jones although several crew members had been to the New World before.

The delayed sailing in the fall of 1620 and the damage done by storms in the crossing, plus the time it took to locate a suitable site for the Pilgrims’ colony, meant the Mayflower had to over-winter in Plymouth Harbor, where half of her crew was lost to disease. You can read all about the voyage and that first winter in The Last Pilgrim.

 The Mayflower arrived back in England on May 6, 1621. Christopher Jones took the ship out for a few more trading runs, but he died a couple of years later in March 1622.  His widow, Josian, inherited the Mayflower, and the ship was appraised for probate purposed in May 1624. At that time it was referred to as being “in ruins” and was only valued at 128 pounds sterling. The Mayflower was almost certainly broken up and sold off as scrap.

A sad end for this historic lady, but at the time the Mayflowers’s place in history had not yet been recognized.

 mayflower-barnThe “Mayflower Barn” in Jordans, England, was identified in the 1920s as having been made from the remnants of the Mayflower.  The evidence is entirely unconvincing, but that has not stopped it from becoming a tourist attraction nonetheless.

 

 

The Last Pilgrim is available on Amazon:

A Revisit: Did the Pilgrims Disembark on Plymouth Rock?

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In my latest book, The Last Pilgrim, I mention that a great granite rock was one of the landmarks for the Pilgrims (Separatists) of the site where they decided to settle, along with a high hill for the placement of their cannons, and cleared land. I didn’t write about it further because in doing primary research on the Pilgrims, I discovered there are no contemporary references to the Pilgrims landing on what is now known at Plymouth Rock.

Here is what I did discover, from a post in 2018.

Neither William Bradford’s description of the Pilgrims coming ashore in Plymouth for the first time in 1620 nor the 1622 book called Mourt’s Relation mention any rocks in their accounts. A huge granite rock was mentioned as something marking the site where the Pilgrims would land, but not that they would land ON it.

The first written mention of a rock was made in 1715 when it was described in town boundary records as “a great rock.”

                                    The Landing of the Pilgrims, by Henry Bacon, 1877.

Perhaps its identity was transmitted from father to son, because in 1741 Elder Thomas Faunce documented his claim that Plymouth Rock was the landing place of the Pilgrims. He was 95 years old at the time and had to be carried in a chair to the site. The Rock was under the bank of Cole’s Hill, and he assured those present that his father had pointed the Rock out and told him of its importance. Faunce’s father had arrived in the Plymouth colony aboard the ship Anne in 1623 two, years after the Mayflower landing, and Elder Faunce was born in 1647 when many of the Mayflower Pilgrims were still living, so his assertion made a strong impression.

Colonel Theophilus Cotton and the residents of Plymouth decided to move the rock in 1774. In their attempt to relocate it, the Rock split into two parts. The bottom portion was left behind. The top portion was first displayed at the town’s meeting house, then in 1834 moved to Pilgrim Hall (1824), the oldest public museum in the United States in continuous operation.

In the meantime, the Pilgrim Society had a Victorian canopy built over the lower portion of the Rock. It was designed by artist and architect Hammett Billings, who did the original drawings for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and completed in 1867. The top of the rock was moved from Pilgrim Hall to rejoin the lower portion in 1880, and at that time the date 1620 was carved into it.

In 1920, the rock was moved yet again so old wharves could be removed and the Plymouth waterfront re-landscaped. The rock was then returned to its original site and placed at water level, so it was tide washed. The original canopy was removed and an imposing Roman Doric portico constructed, designed by McKim, Mead and White, architects for among other buildings, among them those on the campus of Columbia University.

It is not surprising that during its many journeys, numerous pieces of the rock were taken, bought and sold. There are pieces in Pilgrim Hall Museum, as well as in the Patent Building in the Smithsonian and a 40-pound piece is set on a pedestal in the cloister of the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Tourist and souvenir hunters chipped away at it in its early days on display. The original rock weighed some 20,000 pounds but only one-third of the top portion is on display under the canopy.

“We have come to this Rock, to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their labours; our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety; and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty, which they encountered the dangers of the ocean, the storms of heaven, the violence of savages, disease, exile, and famine, to enjoy and establish.”  Daniel Webster, 1820 (the same Daniel Webster that debated the devil at what is called Jabez Corner in Plymouth, in the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet).

Over the centuries, Plymouth Rock has become a national icon and crept into America’s historical consciousness through the imagination of authors, painters, and, yes, politicians.