J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Biographers at the B.P.L. This Week

The Boston Public Library is hosting back-to-back talks by two authors who have written about the lives of women in eighteenth-century America.

On Wednesday, 16 October (that’s tonight), Nancy Rubin Stuart will speak about her book Defiant Brides: The Untold Story of Two Revolutionary-Era Women and the Radical Men They Married. Her subjects are Peggy Shippen, who married Gen. Benedict Arnold, and Lucy Flucker, who married Boston bookseller Henry Knox, later a general himself. That event starts at 6:00 P.M. in the Commonwealth Salon.

The next night, Jill Lepore will speak on Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. This Boston woman, whose married name was Jane Mecom, was the baby sister of Benjamin Franklin. While Peggy Shippen and Lucy Flucker came from wealthy families and married prominent men, Jane Mecom came from the mechanic class and never gained gentility like her brother. Yet the siblings remained close throughout their long lives, exchanging letters and visits.

Carl Van Doren published the first book on Jane Mecom more than sixty years ago, so she’s due for a reassessment. The library’s event description says this new biography draws on “a collection of little-studied material, including documents, objects, and portraits discovered recently.” Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her talk, which starts in the Abbey Room at 6:00 P.M., is co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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