Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Silence Dogood speaks

I've been researching the American Revolution as part of my work on THE RIMSKY-KORSAKOV AFFAIR - the connection is that the British Ambassador to Russia, James Harris, tried and failed to convince Catherine the Great to hire out Russian soldiers to the British to fight against the American colonists, much like the Hessian troops.

And the info-trail being what it is, eventually I was reading up on Benjamin Franklin and discovered this absolutely fascinating bit of Franklin biography:
As a teenager, Franklin worked as an apprentice in his older brother James' printing shop in Boston, where The New-England Courant was printed.
Franklin never got anything he wrote published, so, at age 16, Franklin created the persona of a middle-aged widow named Silence Dogood. Once every two weeks, he would leave a letter under the door of his brother's printing shop. A total of 14 letters were sent. The first letter began:
It may not be improper in the first Place to inform your Readers, that I intend once a Fortnight to present them, by the Help of this Paper, with a short Epistle, which I presume will add somewhat to their Entertainment.
And since it is observed, that the Generality of People, nowadays, are unwilling either to commend or dispraise what they read, until they are in some measure informed who or what the Author of it is, whether he be poor or rich, old or young, a Schollar or a Leather Apron Man, &c. and give their Opinion of the Performance, according to the Knowledge which they have of the Author's Circumstances, it may not be amiss to begin with a short Account of my past Life and present Condition, that the Reader may not be at a Loss to judge whether or no my Lucubrations are worth his reading.
 I find this fascinating and it's all I can do to prevent myself from immediately starting a play based on this. I dare not start it because I have two unfinished plays going on right now, not counting all the ones on the back-burner.

Silence Dogood has her own Wikipedia entry.

All the Dogood letters can be found here.