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Gwen Tuinman

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Delving Deeper

Celebrating Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

One of the most creatively formatted books I’ve read is Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The life of Zora Neale Hurston. This biography of Zora Neale Hurston is lush with details of her life journey through an expansive career that includes anthropological research of African-American culture and folklore; journalistic and novel writing; playwright and directorial work in the live theatre realm; and activism. She was a valuable contributor to Black History.

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Pioneer Illnesses: Catarrh and Ague

I’ve nearly worn out my DVD box set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman from having watched it so often. Dr. Michaela Quinn had the cure for almost everything and often sought the council of her First Nation Cheyenne friends who taught her about medicinal plants growing in the wilds. Episodes often mentioned people suffering a catarrh or ague. These terms appear in a number of pioneer journals as well and I’ve always been curious about their meaning.

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A Call for Temperance: Canada 1800s-1900s

In the early 1900s era during which my novel in-progress is set, patriarchal power frustrated women’s need for social change, specifically prohibition and ending domestic violence. We’d yet to attain the right to vote and in Canada, women were disallowed from holding public office because we didn’t qualify as “persons” under the definition set forth in the Constitution. Research deepens my understanding of the characters whose stories I tell. I’m feeling their aggravation.

When women unite, mountains move. How true this was when women spearheaded the temperance movement, an international campaign during the 1800-1900s to end social issues stemming from widespread alcohol abuse. Too often, Canadian women and children were impacted by a host of ills associated with alcoholism: domestic violence, poverty, disease, family breakdown, immorality, unemployment and workplace accidents.  

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