Guest post by Wendy Long Stanley
Eleven years ago, I moved from Canada to the United States with my husband and our two daughters. That first year, as I was exploring the Philadelphia area, I visited Graeme Park, a local historic site that once belonged to Pennsylvania colonial governor William Keith. Today, Graeme Park features an extraordinarily well preserved house from 1722, nestled in a 42-acre park.
The property is a hidden gem. The mansion house remains virtually unchanged since the eighteenth century, and I was taken with the beautiful old house, which at almost 300 years old retains a haunting elegance.
While visiting, I learned about one of the daughters of Graeme Park, Elizabeth Graeme. Elizabeth was a fascinating woman. Once engaged to Benjamin Franklin’s son, she was also a prolific writer and poet and probably one of the most educated women in colonial America. She was beautiful, smart, spoke multiple languages, and could hold a room captive. Elizabeth even sailed to England and met King George III while she was in London. Her list of friendships and relationships were widespread and prestigious. She was close personal friends with several of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
I was completely intrigued. I wanted to know more about her. What had her life been like? What happened to her? And why had history forgotten her? I felt compelled to tell her story. In fact, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. My novel, The Power to Deny, was born from chasing Elizabeth.
I spent years researching any primary sources I could get my hands on. Her story was better than I could have imagined. Bookmarked by the French and Indian War in her youth and the American Revolution in middle age, Elizabeth’s life was a dazzling mix of triumph and despair.
The revolutionary was not kind to Elizabeth. As tension with Britain escalated during the 1770s, Philadelphia became the seat and heart of the rebel government as thirteen colonies turned their backs on the all-powerful British empire and marched towards war. Bloodshed ensued, bringing continental armies to Elizabeth’s backyard at Graeme Park. Elizabeth’s family and friends split fiercely into patriot vs. loyalist and left her on the precipice of losing everything, including Graeme Park itself, and her husband, a loyalist who fought for the British.
One of the highlights of writing my novel was going to the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia and holding Elizabeth’s original work in my own hands. As I was reading her journals, handwritten notes, translations, and poetry, often blotted with ink, I could feel Elizabeth’s spirit. I could sense her suffering and courage at the brink of the American Revolution, and I was moved by her work. The Power to Deny tells Elizabeth’s story.
I only hope she approves.
The Power to Deny is now available on Amazon.
You can contact Wendy via her FB page at Wendy Long Stanley Author Page
or on Twitter @wendystanley
If you enjoy biographical historical fiction, you may also want to check out my novel The Greenest Branch, based on the life of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician. It is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and several other Amazon marketplaces. It’s also FREE on Kindle Unlimited.