Through the years, many famous visitors have come to Victoria on Canada’s west coast. The history books and newspapers of the day describe their visits in detail.
For instance, although Queen Victoria herself never visited her namesake city, her daughter Princess Louise, came to the city in 1882. She apparently loved Victoria so much that some thought she would never leave! She was often spotted wandering along Government Street.
Another famous visitor was Winston Churchill, who came in 1929 and planted a tree in Beacon Hill Park.
Members of the British Monarchy are always visiting Victoria. In 1919 the then Prince of Wales came here after WWI and in 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited prior to WWII. In more recent years, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles, Prince William, and the Duchess Cambridge with Prince George and Princess Charlotte have graced our shores.
But one man is seldom remembered when we discuss our famous visitors.
That man is Rudyard Kipling, who made three visits to Victoria (in 1889, 1892, and 1907) and included it in his poem “Song of the Cities”:
From East to West the circling word has passed,
Till West is East beside our land-locked blue;
From East to West the tested chain holds fast,
The well-forged link rings true!
Here’s more about the British poet and novelist:
Kipling loved to travel the world, but his time in Victoria, British Columbia, made a special impression on him.
For instance, while staying at the Oak Bay Hotel, he wrote a poem (unpublished) after a "night out" with John Virtue, the proprietor of the Oak Bay Hotel where he stayed in 1907. The first verse of that poem reads:
Judging from Kipling's description of coming back to his room later that night, he must have been a little the worse for wear after a good night out!
In 1908 he wrote his famous description of the city for Collier's weekly magazine in 1908 (vol. 41):
Kipling continued to travel the world for years and published many more books, poems, and short stories before his death in 1936 at age 70.
He received various honorary degrees and awards, some of which he declined, but he did accept the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. He was the first English writer to receive this award.
The pallbearers at his funeral included UK Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, an admiral, and a general.
He is buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey in London. In Victoria, we still have an apartment building in Oak Bay named for him: the Rudyard Kipling.
Did you know about Kipling’s visits to Victoria? And do you agree with his description of our fine city?
Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
If you enjoyed reading about Kipling, check out this post about another historical figure who chose a significantly different line of work.
After years of writing historical nonfiction books, I am more than a little excited to announce my debut novel, Providence, the first in the McBride Chronicles historical family saga series, will be released later this fall.
Years ago, a very wise teacher once told me "only write about what you know." Well, I always loved history, my educational background was in history, and I thought I was pretty good at it!
But how, I wondered, can anyone know exactly what it was like to live back in the past?
As a nonfiction book writer, I was more than a little familiar with researching historical figures and situations and then writing about them—the true facts.
Now as a fiction writer, I seem to be doing even more research, analysis, and investigation into living life in another century while at the same time trying to forget everything about life as we know it in the 21st century. It's no easy process!
For the past weeks, months, and even years while the McBride Chronicles series has been coming to life, I have found myself researching some of the following topics while trying to think and act like someone living in the 19th century:
Placing my characters in these settings has been a challenge—but a most enjoyable one.
For a fiction writer, though, research alone is not enough. Creating real-life flesh-and-blood characters is essential.
Over the next several months, I will be blogging about some of these topics. SO if you enjoy historical fiction as much as I do, I hope you will follow along on my adventurous journey.
Please read my blogs, leave a comment (good or bad), join my email list by signing up for my "freebies" (the first is "Poker Alice"), and watch for the release of Providence, my debut novel, to be published by Sandra Jonas Publishing, Boulder, Colorado.
I hope you will be in for a treat . . .
In 1839, in his play about Cardinal Richelieu, Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote that the pen is mightier than the sword. In the play, this famous quote applied to using words to gather support for a cause, as opposed to fighting with weapons. I believe it can also apply to being able to write through times of intense sorrow.
But what happens when the writer holding the pen cannot find the words to describe the indescribable? Does that allow the sword to win? No, it does not!
Being a writer, I am rarely at a loss for words, but today I find I cannot adequately describe the atrocious tragedy that happened to our family and to the entire community of Victoria, British Columbia, on Christmas day. The story has been widely reported by the media so I won't expound on it here.
I was reluctant to write this blog, other than to add that the mother of the two little girls who were murdered by their father was like a daughter to us, and when her own parents died, my husband and I were honored to act as surrogate grandparents to her beautiful daughters.
But no one wants to be reminded of the deaths of two innocent children. So, instead, I have searched my heart to try to find another side to this tragedy and our own insurmountable grief. Once again, I have resorted to the written word.
By doing so, I have discovered that on the opposite side of evil, there is incredible good. I have become more aware of the kindness of people. I have realized that none of us is alone in this world. I have known the comfort of hugs and prayers and the warmth of people who truly care. I have seen the strength of the human spirit, which is so much stronger than the evil in men's hearts.
Although we are angry about a tragedy that should never have happened, we also have hope for a peaceful but vastly changed tomorrow. As the shock lessens, we will recall only the happy memories of two sweet angels who died far too soon but will remain in our hearts forever.
The path through grief is different for everyone. Some find it in solitude. Some need to be surrounded by others. Some find it by walking in the wilderness and discovering the beauty of nature. And some, like me, find it in writing and expressing my feelings that way.
It will be a long journey ahead for us all, but I'm thankful that today I found the strength to write this blog because it has proved to me that the pen is indeed far mightier than the sword. The pen will always win. It is a much more effective tool than direct violence.