Sunday, April 25, 2021

...when research interests merge...


My book project provisionally entitled Women Writers Buried in Virginia Cemeteries was accepted for publication by the editorial board for The History Press/ Arcadia Publishing. I wrote about that prior. Last week, I submitted 125 photos for review, which is the maximum number I can have in the book. I know that some are not the best quality and that I will have to make changes. I didn't know what I didn't know not so much about taking photos but about saving them. This has been such an amazing learning process. 

My hard deadline isn’t until late June but I am having fun (yeah, this is fun to me) and there is much to do before I have to submit everything. I did submit a complete manuscript with my proposal but as any writer knows, there are always edits and revisions. I just didn’t think I would be adding to the list. I had 40 women writers buried in Virginia cemeteries and now I have 44 women writers.

The grave of author Margaret Prescott Montague

Here is how my week has gone-- my friends at Friends of Shockoe Hill pointed out another woman writer (who is pretty amazing, by the way) and while I'm digging through the society pages, which is one of the biggest pleasures in my research life right now-- you might think it only includes teas and trips to Europe but it is an excellent way to find connections, especially for women. Anyway, Margaret P. Montague's name came up and suddenly more local women writers were discovered-thankfully they're buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond so it was a quick trip for me to locate everyone. 

Margaret Prescott Montague's name seems so familiar ONLY BECAUSE SHE WAS IN MY DOCTORAL DISSERTATION RESEARCH! As some of you know, I’m a professor of English. I teach at Gallaudet University, the world’s only university that is designed for Deaf and hard of hearing students. My doctoral dissertation is on Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature and I still keep up with that research and the blog when I have time. That's the thing about researching, there's never enough time.  Yesterday, my research interests connected. The woman author is buried in a Virginia cemetery. She is also an author of a children's story with deaf characters.

Bernard Guella
Montague was hard of hearing (in one account she writes that she simply cannot hear and she is annoyed with a doctor speaking to a hearing friend “On the Fringe of Silence; a Plea for the Hard of Hearing,” The Des Moines Register, Oct 6, 1934, 4.) and she had tunnel vision. Her brother was the superintendent of the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. She interacted with the students there and they inspired her to write a few stories. 

Montague's 1915 writing includes deaf characters who are the main characters. They use sign language with other deaf characters. I love Bernard Guella's description of the book. See the screenshot. 

(Bernard Guella, "Short Stories with Deaf Fictional Characters," American Annals of the Deaf, February 1983, Vol. 128, 1, p.28.)

Aside: I have now discovered 12 women writers in Hollywood, more than any other cemetery in Virginia, and I think their graves are all close-enough for me to put together a Women Writers Cemetery tour.

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