Thursday, May 10, 2012

Merging the Personal and the Political

Well, this pic is from Votes for Women April 19, 1912.

It's the edition I have Edith Nicholson read in my story Diary of a Confirmed Spinster the follow up to Threshold Girl. Both stories are about Canadian women in 1910, sisters in fact, Edith and Flora Nicholson  Both merge the political with the personal.  Edith gets inspired by the hunger strikers.

Diary is finished, the first draft, but I have written it out long hand as I can't type for long periods, due to a cervical disc issue.

I am thinking about the third book about the third sister, Marion Nicholson who was the most ambitious and directed, but who ended up marrying first.

This book will explore how the most ambitious of the Nicholson sisters gave up her career ambitions to marry in 1913. 1) she had so much trouble finding a place to stay, where she wouldn't be bossed around like a child 2) as a woman she made less money than man as a teacher.In 1912 a 'boy out of school' is promoted over her head and given almost 50 percent higher salary 3) she liked men and men liked her 4)she was tired of bailing out her family paying off her brother's debts... All of the above.

And the biological imperative, of course. I am going to include a scene at Dominion Park where she sees a swarthy strong man struggling with snakes up to his waist in water (a real exhibit) and, ah, it has an effect on her. Or maybe the infant incubator exhibit got to her.

Because Marion is my husband's grandmother, I have a lot of information about her life.

1) Normal School Letters 1905
2) a 1907 first year of teaching diary from Sherbrooke, Quebec.
3) Letters from 1908-1913..and family photos (as I have with the other girls..
4) A Gazette editorial upon her early death in 1947.
5) A eulogy in the PAPT Magazine, that would be the Montreal Teacher's Union.
6) A picture of her receiving some Master Teacher award in and around 1945 also from the Gazette.

I have still to figure out how I am going to merge the political with her story.  I want to cover the Jewish Question in schools. In 1908, when she started working in Montreal, Jewish women were not allowed to teach. It was the Presbyterians who were most against it, quite racist actually.

By 1913 they were allowed.  So somehow I have to get this in. Could it be that a Jewish woman is staying at her boarding house. Maybe I can do that. A main story arc will be the difficulty Marion has finding a rooming house she likes. She eventually finds a flat that the landlord will rent to her and her sister and another two teachers, as long as a Matron (her mom)comes to live them. It is an ill fated experiment. But the girls have fun for a while. Marion is so independent, writes her mom to her dad, she doesn't let her 'man' Mr. Blair help with the furnace of changing the double windows.  Mr. Blair must have liked that kind of girl, he proposed in 6 months. No helpless damsel was she. And that was good, because her life was not an easy one.