Season 3 Episode 32: Susan Abernethy on Adventures in History

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”  Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist.

Welcome to Tea, Toast and Trivia.

Thank you for listening in.

I am your host Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

My blogger friend and historian, Susan Abernethy, from the blog, The Freelance History Writer, and I have bridged the distance between Denver, Colorado and Vancouver, British Columbia to discuss why we should study history.

Susan Abernethy has a degree in history and is a member of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association and The Historical Association.  Her blog, The Freelance History Writer, has been continuously publishing historical articles since 2012, with an emphasis on European, Tudor, medieval, Renaissance, Early Modern and Women’s history. 

I invite you to put the kettle on and add to this exciting conversation on Tea Toast & Trivia.

Thank you for joining Susan and me on Tea Toast & Trivia. And a special thank you Susan, for sharing your enthusiasm and passion for history. 

I invite you to meet up with Susan on her blog “The Freelance History Writer.” It is a place where history comes alive. You are only an internet click away from a virtual time travel adventure where you will meet Alfred the Great, find yourself in the court of King Henry VIII and travel to the land of the Vikings.

Until next time, keep safe and be well.

Susan Abernethy on Adventures in History Tea. Toast. & Trivia.

51 Replies to “Season 3 Episode 32: Susan Abernethy on Adventures in History”

  1. Excellent episode. We belong to the RMMRA, also. History is fascinating and provides us with great perspectives on how and often why societies are what they are. When you have even a little knowledge of what went on in the past you can look and customs, governments, policies, etc. that don’t seem to make sense and say “Ah hah! that’s why things are the way they are.” Many times you just shake your head and think “Will they ever learn?” Other times, you think “Wow! We have made so much progress!” Either way, it makes you a much more interesting person knowing a little about the past.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I am delighted that you listened in, Tim. Your comments resonate with me – how do we learn, progress? I just went on the RMMRA website – what a great organization. Is this the organization where you present your papers? When I look back over my life, I am in awe of how much history I witnessed. My grandfather said that he saw the first car on the road and a man walk on the moon. Thank you for adding to this conversation – very much appreciated!

      Liked by 6 people

      1. I presented a paper for an RMMRA conference in 2018. Other papers have been for PAMLA, NeMLA and the presentation on the 20th is the ICCG.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. This looks like a wonderful organisation, Tim. I wish it was easier to find historical information in South Africa. There is little recorded history about our Native African people so historians like David Rattray interviewed people to get their oral stories and, in some cases, memories passed down from great-grandparents. Even the history of the Boers and the British is conflictory and not always reliable. I have gone back to diaries and letters for a lot of my research.

        Liked by 4 people

  2. What a wonderful conversation Rebecca and Susan! History is our teacher and I admire Susan for swimming in history’ waters.
    Thank you, both! 🙏
    ps of course I’m off to visit her blog.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I love that phrase – “swimming in history waters.” Thank you for listening in, Marina. When Susan said that we were living history, especially now, I thought of how these past months had changed the course of our history, how life continues to evolve in unpredictable ways – that we are the witnesses of our time. Which is why I believe that blogging is creating invaluable historical documents. Sending many hugs back your way.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. I was a late arrival to the history fan base. It’s only been as an adult that I developed a love of history. You mentioned there “being more to history than times and dates” but that’s how history was taught when I was in school. History from people more interested in telling stories, flipped me into being a fan.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I know exactly what you mean. The dates and the name of battles. That was all that I remember of history classes, but perhaps I was too interested in the romance book I was reading behind the history book. YIKES. I especially appreciated how Susan said that history is one big story. Your series on “Doors” (loved the South Church – Hartford) is an excellent example of how history comes alive. Thank you so much for listening in – always appreciate your company.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. My brother taught history, and he talks about the ways he made it come alive. If I had him, I would have loved it much earlier.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. HI Dan, times and dates was also how ‘they’ tried to teach me history. I quickly realised that if I wanted to find out anything interesting and of real importance, I had to do it on my own. I am so glad my English teacher was far more adventurous than my history teacher and gave me books like I am David and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit to read which developed my love of both English and History.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Oh, and Helter Skelter by Susan Atkins. Don’t tell my mom I told you I read that at 11 years old. She is horrified that Sister Agatha gave me this book to read at such a young age. It’s now called Child of Satan, Child of God and is about the Charles Manson murders.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. Thank you, Susan and Rebecca for this amazing conversation. Your conversations and stories are improving with each new entry. This is, in my estimation, the very best yet! ! I learned so much and, as I was listening, I became very animated about searching, in my own way, the endless stories of those who lived before us. We could spend months searching the past stories and never come to the end of fantastic episodes. It makes me aware that we have to be aware, and take notice, of our own stories as they develop and that we should be proud of our own experiences. We have to find a way to record them for our children and others.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Frances – you have the very best comments. Thank you for adding breadth and depth to this conversation. I am delighted that you have joined me on TTT to share your story of the past. We forget that history is occurring at the same time we are living!

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Yes, history is also the unsung, everyday lives who go without saying. The long chain of families merging and diverging seems endless. In these too are the little omissions, fictions and myths, just as the big ones in books. 🤗🤗🤗

        Liked by 5 people

      2. How very well said, Mary Jo – “unsung, everyday lives” is what makes history. When I look back it was seemingly insignificant events – the trivia – that has become so important in my memory bank. The idea of myths fascinates me, for I believe that we create our personal and family myths as we go along. Oh, I do enjoy our conversations.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Thank you Mary Jo. I’m meeting up with Frances in person today, the first time in months. She will be thrilled to hear this news and I can hardly wait to relay this news. Sending many hugs along with my gratitude!

        Liked by 3 people

      4. I would love to learn more about your mom’s young life and that of her parents, Rebecca. I am sure your mom could shed a lot of interesting light on life in Canada before technology and the implementation of the Unemployment Assistance Act in 1956. I am sure a lot of people lived a very hard life.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Frances has been my most loyal and strongest support. Whenever I came up with an idea, she thought that I was the most brilliant of daughters. (My sister, Sarah, would agree). Tea Toast & Trivia started out with conversations with my mother, who lived in Nebraska through the Great Depression. She talks about sod houses, the one room schoolhouse that she attended, and the Ladies Aid. She remembers serving soldiers at the North Platte Canteen (https://www.amazon.ca/Once-Upon-Town-Miracle-Canteen/dp/006008197X)
        Our mothers lived during very difficult times, and yet there was always that marvelous feeling of hope – the best gift that they could give their children.

        Liked by 5 people

      6. Hi Rebecca, I knew Frances would be a treasure trove of interesting information. You should write her story together. It is great fun writing with your mother. Thank you for this Amazon link, it sounds very interesting. My mom’s oldest sister was in the WRENs. Everyone faces adversity in their lives in one form or another. Our parents lived through wars, we are living through a pandemic and we also have double working families which is not at all easy for families.

        Liked by 4 people

      7. I love our conversations, Robbie. Writing my mother’s story would be very interesting – a great idea. I agree wholeheartedly that there has never been a time when humanity has not faced challenges. Susan’s thought that daily life for peasants in the Middle Ages was harsh and consisted of working the land for food. And food continues to be an issue. I was on the FAO and found a recent report that stated; “There was a dramatic worsening of world hunger in 2020, the United Nations said today – much of it likely related to the fallout of COVID-19. While the pandemic’s impact has yet to be fully mapped*, a multi-agency report estimates that around a tenth of the global population – up to 811 million people – were undernourished last year. The number suggests it will take a tremendous effort for the world to honour its pledge to end hunger by 2030.”http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1415595/icode/

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Hi Rebecca, what an interesting podcast and the comments are great too. I just love history and I always have. Like Susan, my introduction to history was through a book about King Henry VIII and his six wives. I found it fascinating. From there, I dabbled into a lot of historical novels and these, and classic books, still form the backbone of my reading. I am very pleased to meet Susan and learn about her blog. My publisher, Anne Samson, is also a historian. Her primary area of interest is WW1 in Africa. Her interest in history is a big plus for me and I can rely on her to ‘test’ my work and ensure there isn’t anything that seems out of place or wrong for the period. Both my boys are interested in history. Gregory took it as one of his subjects in high school (they choose six) and Michael is also going to take history. I am glad because it makes my testing them on their work more fun for me and I usually learn something new.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I knew you would enjoy this conversation, Robbie. You will enjoy Susan’s blog/website. History gives us a structure, a foundation upon which to continue the narrative. We forget that as we live each day we are creating an historical event and memory. What I especially appreciated about your comments was “Her (Anne) interest in history is a big plus for me and I can rely on her to ‘test’ my work and ensure there isn’t anything that seems out of place or wrong for the period.” Your books have the integrity of research, you tell the story from different perspectives, you honour what has come before.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Hi Rebecca, getting the history correct and properly presented is very important to me and that is why I do so much research and cross-checking of information. I am currently reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I have been reflecting on how dystopian novels like this, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 all contemplate the destruction of historical information, museums, and art as well as books. That clearly indicates how important the retention and learning of history is for mankind. Books, of course, are vital, that goes without saying.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Yes, yes, yes!!! Books are vital. 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 were difficult reads for me, simply because of the destruction of historical information etc. But there are other ways to destroy historical information through lack of research or bias, or remembering from only one perspective. So thank you for your commitment to getting “the history correct and properly presented.”

        Liked by 4 people

  6. Another very interesting conversation! All your conversations are very interesting, Rebecca, and Susan is a compelling/engaging guest! It’s hard to choose what most struck me about the discussion, but up there were the comment about historians being detectives a la Sherlock Holmes and the talk about the various important responsibilities queens had. Writing about women’s history — as Susan does, among her other historical subject areas — and studying “ordinary people” of the past is so important. And while this is hardly an original thought, one of the best ways to learn about history is by reading historical novels. Hard to beat the combination of entertaining and educational!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Dave “Hard to beat the combination of entertaining and educational.” When Susan mentioned Jean Plaidy, the years rolled back for me. Eleanor Alice Hubert (1906 -1993) was a remarkable writer. I did not know that Jean Plaidy, who wrote factionalized history of European royalty, Victoria Holt who wrote gothic romances and Philippe Carr who wrote multi-generational family sagas was one and the same. I loved all three of these writers, never knowing that they were pen names. She was born in Canning Town London, England and died at sea between Athens, Greece and Port Said Egypt. What a remarkable life – from Canning Town, to the Mediterranean Sea. From business college to jeweler to language interpreter in a cafe for French and German speaking tourists to acclaimed writer….

      “If anybody says to me ‘you look tired,’ it’s because I haven’t been able to get at my typewriter. Writing excites me. I live all my characters and never have any trouble thinking of plots of how people would have said something because I’m them when I’m writing.”Eleanor Hibbert

      My thanks goes to writers – they take me around the world, back into history forward into the future, and offer a new perspective of the present. And…they carry me safe home.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. History and the reading of it, starting from early school years and at home foraging among our father’s passion of history books collection, was always choice among my reading interests. All this to say that I wholly concur with Dave’s Important, thought of learning about history thru the reading of historical novels. Thus so, as an avid reader, when not scribbling, I echo Dave’s thought of “Hard to beat the combination of entertaining and educational!”
      As well I sincerely express heartfelt thanks to Rebecca for the introduction of Susan Abernethy on Adventures in History. That clip of of the movie – The Six Wives of Henry VIII starring Charles Laughton, was magical, as in bringing back the magic of youthful movie watching days, for I too as Don have fond memories of seeing Charles Laughton in acting action.
      What a wonderful TTT episode, Rebecca!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much, Jean-Jacques for adding your brilliant insights and memories to this conversation. I am looking forward to Susan’s discussion on Catherine of Braganza. There are so many stories held safe in the folds of history. To see how we have evolved from a time when we were either “ragged or rich” is compelling. Don remembers that movie with Charles Laughton. Wasn’t he magnificent.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you listened in, Linda – thank you for your heartwarming comments. You will enjoy meeting up with Susan and her historical adventures.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Thoroughly enjoyable. I enjoyed Susan’s article on Anne of Cleves immensely. There is many happy hours of reading for me to explore on her blog- and I will take advantage.
    Can I recommend the old movie The Six Wives of Henry VIII starring Charles Laughton and his long suffering wife Esta Lanchester as the sharp witted Anne of Cleves? If you want to look a bit further afield for old queens then try Byzantium’s Empress Irene (Eirene means Peace of God -Ironic really, she was more a piece of work).
    You both hit a relevent point a number of times in the talk – the fact we learn from the past and depend upon it to judge our progress. A thought echoed by giants like George Santayana – Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, and of course Orwell in 1984- Who controls the past controls the future. It is especially important now, when popular entertainment is rewriting history wholesale for mass consumption. Without the bedrock of the past everything we build is built on quicksand.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I found a clip of the movie – The Six Wives of Henry VIII starring Charles Laughton. Don remembers seeing the movie. I checked out Empress Irene under the name Irene of Athens. Did you mean the Irene that was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine V on 1 November 769 and was married to his son Leo IV on 3 November? What a life she led, Paul. I am delighted that you have connected with Susan and her blog. I appreciate when writers are committed to research.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Such a cool film. Anne takes one look at Henry and thinks -no way! and so makes herself ugly by pulling faces and acting like an idiot. Irene was definitely married to Leo IV – she was one tough cookie. Byzantine history is so, well, so Byzantine! Lots of interesting stuff to discover on Susan’s blog

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Another excellent interview Rebecca and Shea. I agree with everything you have to say. As a writer, you do wear many hats and the most important attribute is perseverance. It took me 5 years of sending out submissions and receiving the dreaded rejection letter until I found my publisher. I’m so glad I didn’t give up. Self-publishing wasn’t as easy or as respected at that time. I’ve learned a lot of patience since I became a serious writer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Darlene for your tenacity and courage. Last week, I met up with my mother, Frances, for the first time in several months. She was so excited to receive Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady. Zoom has been our way of connecting over the past months, so it was wonderful to meet up in person and celebrate over coffee with Amanda and you! I believe that self-publishing is the next iteration in storytelling. Perhaps it is time that traditional publishers need to redefine their vision.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. There were two different podcasts here. I also thoroughly enjoyed Susan’s discussion of history. I love history and always have. I try to include some in each of my Amanda books. Susan’s books sound amazing. I will check them out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you listened in to Susan’s Adventures in History. I know you will enjoy Susan’s blog which is well-researched and provides excellent context to historical events. I’m looking forward to meeting up with her again to discuss Catherine of Braganza!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I greatly enjoyed listening to your conversation with Susan about the study of history. I remember the series “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” when it came out. I was riveted!! I was introduced to history at a very young age by my dad–only I didn’t realize until I was in my teens that the stories he told me were about historical figures and events. He was so intimately acquainted with them!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I rummaged through my videos and found David Starkey’s presentation of “The Wives of Henry VIII” It is a 2001 production for Channel Four Television. I can’t believe that I forgot about this video set!!! This is not the same as The Six Wives of Henry VIII which I remember with vividness. You father was brilliant – history through storytelling. So much better than dates and names of battles. Thank you for listening in Liz – very much appreciated!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for joining the discussion, Teagan. Looking back into history is not for the faint of heart. I am looking forward to hearing about Catherine of Braganza Sending many hugs back to you on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

You're invited to join the dialogue

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.