My love affair with historical fiction began when I was entering high school. I remember being in a bookstore and being bewitched by the book cover of a woman in what looked to be a sumptuous silk gown. She glanced behind her as if she was hiding a dangerous secret. That book was Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl” and it irrevocably changed my life.
Ever since then, I’ve been transfixed and fascinated by the stories of women across history, in many different faiths, and from cultures all over the globe. Throughout the eras and epochs of history, women have perpetually been seen through the lens of men and rarely ever had a chance to speak for themselves. Whether it is a biblical era narrative, a medieval monk’s rant, or an 18th century libertine’s quip, women have been painted in an unflattering light. The primary role given to women throughout history has been one of temptress and seductress, something that men seemed to zealously guard against in the Middle Ages.
Women in centuries past were the “Angels in the home.” Writer Kate Chopin who called such females “mother-women”, wrote in her 1899 novel: “It was easy to know them, fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when any harm, real or imaginary, threatened their precious brood. They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels.” Popular in the Victorian era was “the Cult of Female Domesticity” also known as “the Cult of True Womanhood” which valued the following virtues: purity, piety, domesticity, and submissiveness.
Literature and art for centuries were exclusively the province of men while women concerned themselves with the successful operation of a household as well as the bearing and raising of children. Romantic poet, Robert Southey once told famous Gothic novelist Charlotte Brontë, “Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life.” The message was clear, women were unwelcome in literary circles. Good thing she didn’t listen to him! In this epoch, it is the name of Brontë we remember and revere, not Southey. Writing was often considered an unsuitable pastime for women and for those who dared to write anything more than a romance-centered book, such women were stigmatized by society and ridiculed. In the case of many famous female writers, a pseudonym was a necessity. The Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne were “Curer, Ellis, and Acton Bell”, respectively. Jane Austen published her novels simply as “a Lady.” Even though there is a controversy as to the authorship of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (it is unsure to what extent Percy Bysshe Shelley contributed), it was published anonymously in 1818.
The Merry Wife of Windsor pays homage to the women who were obscured by history and virtually ignored. It honors the women who dared to write in a time when it was unacceptable…the suffragettes and abolitionists who sought to better humanity…women who showed bravery in time of war…the royal and noble women who acted the part of noblesse oblige…the great women who rose to prominence in the land…the saints and holy women who showed compassion…the inconspicuous wives and mothers who history forgot…and the normal, everyday women.
Celebrating women in history, religion, and culture.
My name is Kendall Turchyn. I am a writer, an editor, and a book reviewer. In my spare time, I am a historian and a historical interpreter/reenactor. I specialize in 1820’s and 1830’s interpretation and reenactment.
“The Merry Wife of Windsor” is the pen name I go by as well as the theme of my website. This website was born out of my passion for reading, a tendency to analyze, and my love for literary discussion and research. Book reviewing is something that I have done both professionally and as an ongoing hobby.
I am a young lady in my late twenties who adores literature (especially the classics), history, and period pieces. Even though we live in a fast-paced modern world, I enjoy taking my time, have a joie de vivre and zest for life (carpe diem, anybody?), glory often in the beauty of mother nature, and I have what many would consider to be traditional values. In addition, I am the sort of person who enjoys the small things in life: letter writing, etiquette, coffee in the mornings, afternoon tea, the peace of classical music, reading books, the solitude of nature, sunrises and sunsets, intelligent discussions, and chess.
I am currently writing my first book, a historical mystery set in an 1830’s factory town in the eerie New Jersey Pine Barrens. Be sure to check back for more updates!
Some Facts About Me:
Favorite Time Period: The Medieval Period, followed by the Renaissance, the Romantic Era, the Regency Era, and the Georgian Era
Favorite Book: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, followed by Pride and Prejudice
Favorite Author(s): Jane Austen and Washington Irving; the Brontë Sisters, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Gaskell (are close seconds)
Favorite Period Piece: 1995 Pride and Prejudice (no brainer). Watched it so much I can quote it word for word
Favorite Music: Classical and Gregorian Chant
Favorite Composer: George Frideric Handel with Johann Sebastian Bach as a close second
Favorite Activities: Reading, Writing, Knitting, Crocheting, Embroidery, watching Period Pieces, Cooking, Afternoon Tea, Hiking, Archery, Letter Writing