Writing a book is like having a permanent secret. On Sunday, Mary Shelley died. Yesterday, I gave a test on Oedipus Rex, made sure my genocide students understood the events leading up to the Rwanda genocide, took my son to orchestra and tuned several violins, bought a pizza, and went to a program at my son’s s school. At no point did I mention that she had died. After all, this is old information for the world. But today I am brooding over the aftermath. Mary wanted to be buried with her parents in St. Pancras churchyard, but her devoted daughter-in-law, Jane, did not like this idea; the railroad had destroyed the old neighborhood. The fields were slums. The railroad threatened to cut through the cemetery and ten years after Mary died, it did. Strangely enough, it would be Thomas Hardy, the young novelist to be, who was put in charge of moving the gravestones.
None of this comes up easily in conversation:
“How are you, Charlotte?”
“I am fine. But guess what? Did you know Thomas Hardy was in charge of dismantling the St. Pancras graveyard?”
Anyways, I suppose that is what blogs are for. Besides, the story isn’t done. Even if I could get someone to listen to Mary’s death, there’s more. For instance, since Jane wanted to respect Mary’s wishes — to be with her parents — she had a dilemma and her solution was ghoulish. She dug up Mary’s parents, had their coffins piled into her carriage and transported them to the nice suburban graveyard near where she and Percy (Junior) lived. However, the vicar of the village church didn’t relish the prospect of radicals, even dead ones, joining his respectable community, and locked the gates. Jane sat in her carriage with the corpses parked next to her, until the poor man relented (‘for fear of scandal” — the story goes). Now, thanks to Jane, Mary and her mother and father are all buried in Bournemouth.
Bournemouth? I am not even sure where this is, let alone if I have spelled this correctly. I foresee another trip to England.