Yeah, I know about the adage, “Write about what you know,” but I’ve come to see that advice needs to be balanced by “write about what you want to know.”
What we might call a creative tension. If you’re a writer, I hope that helps.
My latest book, which started out as a humble and brief profile of Dover’s Quaker Meeting but turned into a contrarian New England history, could be presented as one example.
I mean, Dover is still seen as a shadow to neighboring Portsmouth, which is much smaller and more uppity. Get real!
Back to the book at hand and the research that’s gone into it. Here are some things that surprised me.
- Thomas Roberts as a cofounder of the settlement, rather than William Hilton. That alone alters the traditional telling.
- The Devonshire connection, which gave Dover a much different culture to build on rather than the one the Puritans presented.
- The extent of New Hampshire’s role as a haven for dissidents and misfits.
- Puritans as less than monolithic. They were primed for revolution but full of insecurities.
- Richard Waldron’s power in Boston. He was more than a rich hick in the sticks.
- The crucial impact of a few key provision in New Hampshire’s agreement to come under Massachusetts management. A male didn’t have to be a member in good standing in the town church in order to hold land or to vote in town affairs.
- Dover Friends Meeting as one of the seven oldest in America. It has a more prominent place in Quaker history than has been recognized.
- Early English resettlement of Maine after the French and Indian devastations coming around 1730 rather than 30 years later.
- Dover’s textile mills’ predating those in Lowell, Lawrence, and Manchester. In fact, the founders of Lowell looked to Dover for inspiration. In other words, we weren’t a small, insignificant mill town.
- The Sorcerer who was a member of Meeting. You’ll have to read the book to find out about him.
Order your copy of Quaking Dover at your favorite bookstore. Or request it at your public library.