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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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Visiting Dr. Franklin in London

Another pleasant item from Common-place, the online magazine of the history of early America: Joyce E. Chaplin’s description of visiting the house in London where Benjamin Franklin lived for most of his years there, around the corner from Charing Cross Station.

The Benjamin Franklin House was restored and opened to visitors in 2006. However, it still lacks furnishings of the sort that landlady Margaret Stevenson and her daughter Molly would have owned.

One passing remark from Chaplin:

Visitors next meet “Polly Stevenson.” I braced myself. Despite a delightful encounter with “Edward Winslow” at Plimouth Plantation many years ago, I generally hate it when some tall, well-nourished person, visibly equipped with a mouthful of gleaming white teeth, tries to convince me that he or she is a Viking, or whatever.
Though Chaplin focuses on physiology (and dentistry), her enjoyment of first-person interpretation at Plimoth might indicate that the real deciding factor is the interpreter’s level of training.

Now if only the exchange rate made it more favorable for an American to enjoy London...

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