Tuesday, April 26, 2011

La Cara Oculta, Podcasting, Kindle and iBook

No blog post on research this week because I'm out of the office, in part to film an interview for Francisco Martin Moreno's program "La Cara Oculta" for TV Azteca (check out the on-line "Reader's Guide" / "Guía de lectura" to The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire for the basic story).

Another bit of business: the podcast page has been updated with substantially wider bandwidth.

Yet more business: readying the e-book (Kindle and iBook edition) of the Spanish translation, El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano. I hope to have news about this very soon. Currently the paperback edition is available in Spanish (a superb translation by Mexican novelist and poet Agustín Cadena) from Grijalbo Random House Mondadori.

Check in again next Tuesday: more books on the period, plus a story about pears.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rosedale, the Historic Estate in Washington DC

Pictured left is my pug dog, Picadou, a little tuckered out after her walk at Rosedale, when we were visiting just the other day. Rosedale plays an important part in my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, because it was the family home of (prince) Agustín de Iturbide y Green's mother and, later, his home for many years, on and off, until it was sold in the early 20th century.

As I recount in the epilogue of my novel, "The Story of the Story or, An Epilogue by Way of Acknowledgements," when I first began researching the novel in the late 1990s, there was nothing-- and I mean absolutely nothing-- available on-line about Rosedale.

I found my way into the story by visitng the Historical Society of Washington DC, where I came upon the privately published and beautifully researched book by Louise Mann-Kenney, Rosedale: The Eighteenth Century Country Estate of General Uriah Forrest, Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C. (1989).

Some other relevant works include Historic Homes in Washington: Its Noted Men and Women by Mary S. Lockwood (NY: Belford Company, 1889); Cleveland Park, an Early Residential Neighborhood of the Nation's Capital by Grace Dunlop Peter and Joyce D. Southwick, and Old Georgetown on the Potomac by Henry Ridgely Evans, Washington DC 1933, which includes the author's personal memoir of his friendship with Agustín de Iturbide y Green, beginning as boys in Georgetown in the late 1860s.

Rosedale, Washington DC  Photo: C.M. Mayo
In addition, in the Historical Society of Washington DC's library and other Washingtonian libraries, I found several newspaper articles about Rosedale and the family, a few of which mentioned previously unknown details about the tangle with Maximilian von Habsburg.

[Pictured left is my snapshot taken in the winter of 2000, when Rosedale was still serving as a dormitory for the Youth for Understanding Foundation. It has since been painted a rich honey-yellow and is now a privately-owned residence within the Rosedale Conservancy.]

My research concluded a few years ago; no doubt these libraries have many new articles about Rosedale not listed here. There was a spate of publicity a decade ago, when Elián González, a Cuban boy whose custody was in dispute, found refuge at Rosedale, though, curiously, in not one of the many articles did I find any mention of Rosedale's history with another child whose custody was in dispute: Agustín de Iturbide y Green. (Really, I find that a headshaker.) Subsequently, a few years ago, Rosedale was in the local press again when a dedicated association of neighbors saved it and a small portion of the grounds-- now a community dog park-- from development. The Rosedale Conservancy-- the organization's website-- includes many photos and more information about Rosedale.

Herewith, a list of those older articles focussing on Rosedale:

+++In the Historical Society of Washington DC Library

November 16, 1947, "The President and Mrs Cleveland" by John Clagett Proctor, The Sunday Star

September 1, 1944, "Historic Landmarks of Cleveland Park," by John Clagett Proctor, The Sunday Star

And: a large map showing "Mrs Green" (which is Rosedale) on the Defences of Washington, Extract of Military Map of N.E. Virginia, War Department, 1865

+++In the Martin Luther King Library's Washintongtonia Room

*March 27, 1932, "A Relic of Antiquity," by Gilbert G. La Gorce, The Washington Post
This article is the most detailed. It claims that Alice Green was a youngest child, but this is incorrect (according to a Green family genealogy).

April 1933 (no date), "Phillips' Lease Famous Old Home" Washington Herald

March 23, 1941, "A Might-Have Been Empress Who Lives in Georgetown," by Jane McIlvane, Times-Herald
A very detailed article based on an interview with Agustín de Iturbide y Green's widow, Louise Kearney Iturbide. Erroneously states that upon their marriage in 1915 they lived in her family home, Quality Hill in Georgetown; in fact, the house was sold almost immediately after their marriage and they lived instead at the Pelham Apartments on P St NW, near Dupont Circle.

September 25, 1950 "Cleveland Park's Charm..." by George Kennedy, The Star
A mention with a little detail.

March 28, 1953, "Gen. Forrest's Home Unchaged in 160 years" by E.R. Noderrer, Times-Herald

August 19, 1958, "The Rambler... Visits his Favorite House" by George Kennedy, The Star
Another mention with a little detail.

Spring 1960, Cathedral's New property, Rosedale Estate, Associated with Capital';s Earliest History" by Elizabeth Coonley Faulkner, Cathedral Age

+++Georgetown Public Library's Peabody Room

A terrific resource-- here is where I sat down and read a first edition of Henry Ridgely Evans' memoir, Old Goergetown on the Potomac. They also have a complete collection of Evans' works-- he was a prolific writer, a 33rd Degree Mason, and an expert in magic and occult phenomena.

>>To listen to the podcast of my lecture at the Historical Society of Washington DC, click here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On the Death of Maximilian: A rare Hungarian Newspaper Article from 1876

An eyewitness memoir by Dr Szender Ede, who served with the French in Mexico from 1865, and later had quite a bit to do with the aftermath, was published in a Hungarian newspaper in 1876, and has been translated into Spanish. Warning: it's not for the timid of stomach.

> You can read it here.

Yes, I hope to translate it into English soon.

Pictured left is my photo of Maximilian's temporary coffin, in Querétaro. You can see more of my photos from Querétaro here.

Next post: next Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Carlota's Piano

So far readers have alerted me to a crystal flute, a saddle, a set of mirrors, and a diamond ring-- and now, Carlota's piano. A fun connection: writer John Randolph Bennett was writing to interview me about Dancing Chiva Literary Arts, my new venture in publishing, among other things, Maximiliana, and in his e-mail he wrote:

[When] I was a boy growing up in San Jose, CA, we used to buy sheet music as a store called Reid's Music. Somehow they had acquired Empress Carlotta's piano, and they displayed it on a dais in the center of their store. They called it the Empress Carlotta Grand. I remember it being ornate; it may have been painted a brassy gold. I think I got to play it once.

In response to further questioning:

"I just Googled 'Empress Carlotta Grande Piano' and found a listing in an auction house from 2010. This is how I remember the piano looking. Look at the golden color of that wood! Hard to imagine it sitting on a platform by the escalators in a big store in a shopping mall in San Jose."

Here's the result of that "google": M.S. Rau of New Orleans is offering the piano for sale for USD $225,000. From the on-line catalog:

Royal provenance and superior craftsmanship culminate in this highly important grand piano, owned by the Empress Carlota of Mexico and made by the famed London firm of Collard & Collard. The piano was given to the Empress by her brother-in-law, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, on the occasion of her 25th birthday in 1865.

The piano itself is a work of art. The body is crafted of luxurious birds-eye maple, polished to a sleek, smooth finish and complemented with scrolling gold gilt wood accents. Three shimmering gold gilt wood legs, hand-carved in the Rococo style, support the entire structure, which, despite its impressive size, seemingly floats in its space. Additional highlights include original ivory and ebony keys, original "certificate of authenticity" by Collard & Collard, and a plaque stating this magnificent instrument was a gift to the Empress.

This piano was housed in the Empress' private quarters in Chapultepec Castle, where she would often sit and play her favorite classical compositions. When the rule of the Empress and her husband, Emperor Maximillian I, ended in 1867, a few pieces of the castle's contents (including this piano) became the property of Mexican government officials.... CONTINUE READING

One of the very few liberties I took with historical facts in my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, had to do, precisely, with this piano. For the chapter set in September of 1865, I wanted to introduce the two grandsons of the Emperor Iturbide, Salvador and Agustín (the prince of the novel's title), apart from their family, and show the strangeness of their having been brought into Maximilian's household. I set the scene for the two boys, one an adolescent, the other only 2 and 1/2, in Chapultepec Castle, the Imperial residence, where they come upon the piano. In fact, Salvador had already been taken to school in Paris-- but this was a small liberty, and worth taking for narrative integrity, I think. I also imagined the piano being dark--wrong I was! That will be corrected in the next edition.

I'll be on a brief blog vacation, so next the post will be on Tuesday April 19th.

If you'd like news about Dancing Chiva's forthcoming ebooks on Maximiliana, we'd love to have you join the mailing list. We hate spam, too, so the newsletter goes out only 5 - 6 times a year, and you can opt out at any time.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...