Hi all, we are getting some updates on the “Discovery Sale” being held online only, alongside the Gallery Auction at Cooper’s this week. Items from both events are being displayed simultaneously, although the “Discovery” items are being sold separately (with lower-ticket stuff, it seems).
This is most definitely more Barbara’s than our kind of setting and interest, so we will just highlight the BOOKS! (Always a shared interest!) and Egyptian things that wound up in “Discovery” — but there are also some other assorted items (all marked as being Barbara’s).
… and people who, like Barbara, are into antiques…. (unlike some (not all!) of Barbara’s progeny, for whom being dragged to antique shows ranked lower than going to the dentist).
There are going to be several events coming up in the Baltimore-Frederick area in the next couple of months that will feature some items from Barbara’s estate. One part of this effort will involve bundling part of Barbara’s (incredibly massive) book collection into themed parcels .. including, for those of you following recent exchanges about this on Facebook’s “Another Shirt Ruined” group — her H. Rider Haggard collection! (Be forewarned, Barbara used her books with gusto — they were there to be read, not looked at! She boasted that as a child, her father teased her that he never knew what food items might show up in a book she was reading….) (Chocolate ones preferred, of course.) Some of this will be cataloged online, while some will just be up for viewing at the event sites.
We mention this in case you’d like to see things from the grand to the little and silly from Barbara’s life. (To be clear, this is about sharing the fun, not urging anyone to buy anything…. there will be plenty of collector-types, just like Barbara, to do that!) You can eyeball some things online — but the actual display in the galleries may be fun to browse in person if you’re in the area (and it’s free to go see it!).
SO, the first event is at Alex Cooper’s galleries in Towson, Maryland, on April 7 and 9. The official catalog features the big items — but there should also be some smaller, Egypt-themed silly stuff on display. (Barbara prided herself on never losing a child-like sense of humor and fun, so she delighted in kids’ toys and collected Lord-of-the-Rings stuff of all kinds….) Not sure yet about the books, but will update as we can. And oh, all right, yes, there’s some furniture (yawn)(sorry, still can’t get excited about it!).
Hi all! This post took some time to compose, but with help from fans and friends, we’ve begun to pull together some of the diverse threads of the Mertz-Peters-Michaels fandom for this “Review of the MPM World in 2015.” If you know of something we missed, we’d love to hear from you!
This has been an exciting time for us. As novices in social media, we at MPM have been really enjoying our introductions to the rich and creative discussions and posts in places like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr … and we’ve just started to venture into Pinterest as well. MPM fans are doing everything from readings of Amelia books (complete with period illustrations and background research) – to a collective effort at developing a timeline for the AP series. And there are fun musings on all aspects of MPM’s writings in a number of places – we keep finding more….
On Twitter and Tumblr, the unstoppable TeamRamses (TR)completed a spirited (and always funny!) reading of “Lion in the Valley”, and set us up for a 2016 foray into “Seeing a Large Cat.” (Check out the growing and beautifully illustrated set of quotes from “Cat” on Tumblr) We especially appreciated TR’s explanation of 3 story arcs in the Amelia series.
MPM started its own Twitter account this year. Other Twitter highlights in 2015:
an exchange about cool things people learned (and did extra reading on) from reading Amelia, ranging from Cyrano to Egyptian history (this is so Barbara!)
And, in addition to TR, there are some great long-term Amelia-ites on Tumblr: CHECK OUT AmeliaPeabodyEmerson (APE) and AmeliaPeabodyBookClub (APBC), who joined forces this year to take us on a tour of the Petrie Museum in London. Take a look as they “hit up the Petrie Museum for some mutual Egyptology and Amelia Peabody geeking out.”
AmeliaPeabodyEmerson’s Tumblr tag line is a favorite Amelia-ism: “When one is striding bravely into the future one cannot watch one’s footing”… and the APE archive has some great quotes from the books.
Also on Tumblr, APBC updated the Book Club’s pages, which have a growing wealth of commentary, analysis, fanart, and more. One of the more searching discussions of some hard-to-pin-down aspects of Amelia’s timeline can be found here. The Book Club crew also began a discussion and critique of some Egypt-related movies. In 2016 AMBC is inviting fans and friends to join in the the ambitious task of putting together a detailed timeline for the AP series – the start of which can be seen here.
On Facebook, the venerable and venerated “Another Shirt Ruined” group continues to provide opportunities for fans and friends to share thoughts about MPM’s books, as well as memories of Barbara (thanks to Lyn Green’s leadership!). In 2015, Don Ryan posted a lovely recollection: “I met Barbara about 20 years ago and we became very good friends. She loved visiting Egypt from time to time, especially Luxor, where she rented the most expensive suite at the Winter Palace Hotel. She was usually accompanied by a small entourage of pals and they all had a grand time. Her visits coincided a couple of times with my expedition in the Valley of the Kings and we were delighted that she came out to the site to see what we were finding. And every evening she would have cocktails with her friends out on her balcony to watch the beautiful sunset over the Theban mountains.”
Lyn Green and William Joy also pointed readers of “Another Shirt” to the way Barbara combined research for her books with hobbies such as vintage clothing and jewelry collecting. And there were interesting posts to this group on Hilda Petrie and similarities between her and Amelia — as well as comments on MPM books beyond just the Amelia series. You can also check out MPM’s own new Facebook page.
And we are using THIS BLOG as our primary site for recollections of Barbara, inspired initially by Deborah Lehr’s wonderful piece written on the second anniversary of Barbara’s death in August of 2015. We thank William and Laura for their work in getting us up and running in these various locations – and the generous friends and fans who’ve welcomed and supported these nascent efforts.
WEBPAGE UPDATE: we’re in the process of shifting Barbara’s official webpage, and are awaiting that shift before anything more can be added. Stay tuned for news on that and other developments, through this blog.
You’re very welcome to JOIN IN these efforts, or let us know about other efforts we haven’t yet discovered! The MPM email is: email@example.com
There’s something about cats and writers, not sure what, but certainly any fan or friend of Barbara’s knew the connection was there! Every year at this time, for many years, she sent out an annual season’s greetings… and each card featured one of her cats.
So, in honor of the season, we thought we’d share a photo from 2007. Here you see a younger version of Gandalf (whom you met in an earlier post as he clung determinedly to “his” chair in Barbara’s kitchen).
For anyone wanting to revel in cats and seasonal references, we recommend Trojan Gold — a Vicky Bliss mystery. Set against the backdrop of a Bavarian Christmas, the book ends with a feline flourish… (No spoilers! But suffice it to say that one of our heroes may have met his most painful adversary in a cat resisting the indignity of a bow tied around her neck … “The bow was under her chin, and so lacerated I had to cut the ribbon off. It took all three of us to cram her in the carrier I had bought that morning…. the thing that touched me the most was my hero’s gallantry in taking on [the cat] singlehanded…”)
With each new year, like many in her Amelia Peabody family, Barbara often spoke of her hopes for a peace that could reach across senseless habits of suspicion, violence, and ill-will toward others. This seems an appropriate year to renew those wishes, in the spirit of good-will and basic human decency that characterized so much of what she stood for.
All our best hopes and wishes to you and yours in 2016.
This was what Barbara envisioned writing in an indignant letter to a newspaper (which shall remain nameless) that published a critical review of one of the Harry Potter movies. She felt that the reviewer had missed the spirit of Harry Potter by watching through a jaded adult’s eyes. And she believed in keeping the magic of childhood alive, whether through reading (and re-reading) children’s books, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the latest fantasy and science fiction movies, or delighting in a new children’s toy she’d discovered.
And no one entered the holiday season with more feelings of fun and anticipation. Barbara was easy to buy for — a silly-looking stuffed cat, a light saber, Bilbo/Frodo’s sword Sting, or some goofy joke ornament for her tree — all would be received with her characteristic throaty chortle. So it seems like a good moment to think about the magical worlds that opened up for many of us when we first encountered books as children. This was something Barbara never forgot, and throughout her life she could be seen buried in one children’s book or another, along with all the other books she was devouring. (She was a quick and avid reader.)
As you can see, Rosemary Wells’s Max and Ruby books rub shoulders with George MacDonald’s Princess and Curdie on her bookshelves — and every L.M. Montgomery or L. Frank Baum book ever published can be found tucked away somewhere or other. Some favorite series by women authors were accompanied by biographies, so that she could read about Montgomery or Alcott or Nesbit after reading what they’d written.
What were/are your favorite children’s books? It’s a great season to once again experience the magic of books — and the world — through a child’s eyes.
To any friends and fans who might have wound up with some of Barbara’s vintage collection: we’d love to see you in costume, or to see how you fixed up any part of the collection you might have gotten! (Because of logistics and the size of the collection, the home crew couldn’t go through all the items and photograph or catalog them. But we know for sure that we have pics of Barbara in some of the items, so we can trade photos….)
Here, for example is the white cowboy hat that was sold at the auction, and …..
…. here you see Barbara wearing the hat as she tries to get us to believe she is actually a country-and-western singer. (It looks like this was a time when she was really into southwestern jewelry, although she certainly started being interested much earlier, while visiting her parents out in Arizona.) …..aaaaand, look who else is wearing a very similar hat on the cover of Last Train to Memphis! (Photo credit for the picture of Barbara is to Kristen Whitbread, and for the pictures as formatted here to William Joy… thanks!)
SO if anyone has pics of recently acquired EP vintage stuff, please send them to us at
(and let us know if it’s okay with you for us to post them!)
Today would have been Barbara’s 88th birthday …. not quite the triple-digit 111th birthday that Bilbo reached, but a double-digit worth commemorating nonetheless. In honor of the occasion, we’re posting some pictures from Barbara’s 80th birthday, which she celebrated at her beloved Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. As you can see, she was enjoying herself immensely!
Her friends brought out copies of her MA and PhD theses …. and no one will be surprised to learn that her dissertation dealt with some of the notable women in ancient Egypt. AND there was chocolate cake. (We won’t apologize for repeating the picture of the cake, as we share Barbara’s philosophy that one can never have too much of a good thing like chocolate….)
Happy birthday to someone we’re missing — but who would tell us to keep going in style!
Inspired by, but on a slightly different note than, Bookshelf Q. Battler’s pics, we bring you some “naturally occuring” battles and detentes among some of Barbara’s favorite fantasy-sci fi characters — as found on her bookshelves …. (Dobby looks worried about Scene It, while Leia and Obiwan seem to be mulling their answers over…?? Barbara admitted to crying when Dobby died …)
… an avid sci-fi and fantasy-genre fan, Barbara started reading science fiction at a young age; she and her father would frequently entertain the family at dinner with debates and musings on their latest sci-fi readings. Her shelves were lined with Heinlein, Asimov, Edgar Rice Burroughs (not the Tarzan ones!), H. Rider Haggard, and other favorites — along with so many others that followed (Terry Pratchett and Connie Willis, to name just a few). Readers of Amelia and other EP books will recognize the affectionately mocking send-off she often gave in her writings to some of those early authors — and of course always with a feminist undertone (take that, Indy J.!)
As soon as the first Star Wars movie came out, she lugged all friends and family members she could find to it. At one point she was overheard planning a letter to George Lucas, explaining the schedule he’d have to stick to in order to get all 9 (yes, nine NINE, remember????) films out before she died. It’s probably just as well she never knew that the new one was planned, as it would’ve irked her no end. Early Star Trek was a staple for her (as a cat lover she would’ve loved to have one of those purring tribbles!!). She read all the Harry Potter books as soon as they came out, and got to all the movies. Long before Tolkien was “in,” she was re-reading the trilogy every December — a habit she imparted to several family members. The last film she saw was the first of the recent Hobbit movies, into which she stomped with a portable oxygen tank and a large bin of popcorn. Friends and family could always call her to try out their favorite theories on any of hundreds of sci-fi or fantasy series that she followed — she would amicably and energetically debate each point for hours.
As these pictures attest, Barbara couldn’t resist getting many kits for making various scenes from her favorite series…. which was why kids of all ages loved visiting with her. This hobby wound up providing welcome amusement on bad days as she dealt with illness in her last years; she was working on Jabba the Hutt in the summer of 2013. And of course anything with an Egyptian theme was pounced upon with joy.
However, our very favorite “bookshelf scene” is not from one of Barbara’s shelves, but from the shelf of a friend of hers — used here with permission. Clearly, what Gollum always needed was some time under one of those sunlamps they use for Seasonal Affective Disorder! (Right??) (bottom right pic)