Friday, April 20, 2018

HIstories of Books and Readers

I had an email the other day from a woman in Virginia. Her ancestors, she knew, had been living around Syracuse, New York, since at least the 1880s. But she recently learned that for the hundred years before that, they had lived in Upper Canada/Ontario, having settled there in 1787 as loyalist refugees whose farmland in the Thirteen Colonies had been confiscated by vengeful American authorities.
Thank you for writing The Loyalists which I just finished reading this week. I enjoyed reading it and learned so much.  ... I did not know until a few years ago that my 18th century ancestor was a Loyalist, nor did I understand what that meant. I greatly appreciated being able to learn so much history from your book.
I wrote back to say how I appreciated how a book I wrote decades ago could still be making friends and providing useful information in such unpredictable ways, and she wrote back:
You will laugh... I bought your book 10 years ago, started reading it, but didn't finish it. So, a couple weeks ago, I started over and read the whole thing quickly.  .... I will learn more about the complexities of what the loyalists faced during the late 18th century. It's so much more complex than what we learned in history classes. 
Authors, that book you cast upon the waters long ago?  You rarely know who might be appreciating it.

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