Welcome to Belsay Hall!

Belsay 1Nicola here. For the last two weeks I’ve been on a trip to the North East of England, taking in plenty of castles and historic houses along the way. I visited Cragside, the home of pioneering Victorian engineer William Armstrong, and the first house in England to be lit by hydro-electric power. The most special visit I made though, was to Belsay Hall, which we Word Wenches chose as the inspiration for Holbourne Abbey, the house that is the setting for our new anthology, The Last Chance Christmas Ball. It was very exciting to visit Belsay on behalf of all the Wenches, to wander through its rooms and imagine our characters celebrating the Christmas season in the ballroom and watching the snow falling beyond the drawing room windows. I could almost hear their voices and the faint drift of music!

Christmas is a significant date in the history of Belsay Hall for on Christmas Day 1817 Sir Charles Monck, Stables
the owner, moved with his family the short distance from his “old” castle to the newly-completed mansion house. The timing of the move symbolised a new beginning for the family; the transfer of the seat of the Belsay estate from the ancient residence to a modern one built in classical style, a gem of regency architecture.

One visitor to Belsay at the end of the 19th century recalled her impressions of the Christmas season at the house:

“There was snow everywhere… Belsay came as an incredible surprise – the snowy, cold landscape without, and the generous warmth within; arrival at that magnificently unique four-square house with its leaping fires, standing so boldly forth in its surround of sparkling snow. To feel the warm welcome, to mount the stairs, candlestick in hand, and see the flickering shadows of the light on all the pillars… the blazing fire in one’s bedroom, was glory.”

It almost makes me wish we had been able to see the house in winter rather than on a glorious sunny autumn day!


The original castle at Belsay had been built in the 14th century as a fortified, defensive structure at a
Belsay towertime of great turbulence along the English/Scottish border. It has huge thick walls, turrets, and stone spiral stairs. In the 17th century it was enlarged to make it a more comfortable family home. Above the entrance you can still see the family coat of arms and the inscription: “Thomas Middleton and Dorathy his wife builded this house anno 1614.” Today the castle is wonderfully atmospheric, the ruins lending themselves to the story of a wounded war hero who rediscovers love and learns to live again…

The new Regency mansion built for Sir Charles is an extraordinary Grand Entrance Hall Belsay piece of architecture. Sir Charles  was obsessed with Ancient Greece – he owned every book on Greek Architecture that had been published! – and he designed his house in a classical style. I was completely blown away by the elegance of the Pillar Hall, which occupies the centre of the house and rises over two storeys, lit by a huge window in the roof. It's the first thing you see as you go in and is absolutely magnificent, perfect for welcoming guests to a ball. I used this grand entrance in my own story and it was exactly as I imagined it. The thought of the hall decorated with candles, pine branches and coloured ribbons for Christmas was gorgeous.

Belsay bedroomThe staircase is hidden behind a colonnade of pillars and sweeps up to the first floor where there is a gallery all the way round. It’s totally stunning and because the house is empty now it gives the imagination space to wander, to people the house with all our characters, to see them taking dinner or flitting through the hall, or climbing the servants' stair. The bedroom in the picture still has its 19th century wallpaper and you can see how the door leads out onto the gallery beyond.

The servants’ quarters at Belsay are extensive, taking up the whole north side of the house. As well as a servants’ hall, kitchens, butler’s pantry and extensive storerooms there are six huge cellars, four for wine and two for beer. Housemaids had rooms on the top floor, kitchen and parlour maids on the floor below. There were some lovely descriptions in the guidebook of how the servants would watch from the gallery to see all the guests arriving for balls and parties (and how they would sunbathe on the roof of the in summer in their precious free time!)

One of the most beautiful aspects of Belsay is the garden. Close to the house is the formal garden of Belsay Gardens
terraces is laid out with shrubs and perennial flowers. There is a walled Winter Garden and a yew garden with topiary. Most spectacular however is the quarry garden, a dramatic, wild landscape that was deliberately created to be a contrast with the parkland. There are grottoes and cascades, rock arches and canyons, with trees overhanging the gorges and exotic plants lining the paths. As the guide book said, well-tended paths were still important in a picturesque landscape as Georgian ladies and gentlemen could stand only so much drama and sublimity!

BallFor me as a reader and a writer, background and setting are a huge part of a story. I love being able to visualise the world through which the characters move. Ever since I read Mary Stewart and Daphne Du Maurier in my teens I have loved the atmosphere that can be conjured up to add layers to a story. Belsay Hall is the sort of place that inspires the imagination and I hope I have managed to convey some of that magic.

Today is World Teacher's' Day and it was my first two history teachers, Mrs Chary and Mr Conway, who,
along with my grandmother, taught me to love history, a journey that has brought me to the point I am at now where I am lucky enough to tell stories inspired by wonderful places like Belsay.

Is there a teacher who inspired you, or a place that fires your imagination? One commenter between now and midnight Tuesday will win a copy of The Last Chance Christmas Ball. Thank you!

125 thoughts on “Welcome to Belsay Hall!”

  1. I’ ve been taken on visits to so many National Trust and English Heritage sites since I was a child. I was always inspired by the beauty and the stories behind the properties. In particular Nunnington Hall had the most beautiful Christmas displays last year and they transported you back in time to Christmases of the past!

    Reply
  2. I’ ve been taken on visits to so many National Trust and English Heritage sites since I was a child. I was always inspired by the beauty and the stories behind the properties. In particular Nunnington Hall had the most beautiful Christmas displays last year and they transported you back in time to Christmases of the past!

    Reply
  3. I’ ve been taken on visits to so many National Trust and English Heritage sites since I was a child. I was always inspired by the beauty and the stories behind the properties. In particular Nunnington Hall had the most beautiful Christmas displays last year and they transported you back in time to Christmases of the past!

    Reply
  4. I’ ve been taken on visits to so many National Trust and English Heritage sites since I was a child. I was always inspired by the beauty and the stories behind the properties. In particular Nunnington Hall had the most beautiful Christmas displays last year and they transported you back in time to Christmases of the past!

    Reply
  5. I’ ve been taken on visits to so many National Trust and English Heritage sites since I was a child. I was always inspired by the beauty and the stories behind the properties. In particular Nunnington Hall had the most beautiful Christmas displays last year and they transported you back in time to Christmases of the past!

    Reply
  6. The two teachers I remember most from high school are Mrs. Dothard (taught genetics) and Ms. Bradley (taught history). They just made everything seem VERY interesting!
    Ms. Bradly taught English History. One Semester up to the Reformation and the other from the Reformation to…just after WWII. This was the 70’s when I took it. Now that I think about it, that is an interesting time period since I was going to school in a smallish town in Georgia (US).
    In college it was Dr. Hoskins…my parents said I majored in Dr. Hoskins, not History. Whatever he taught I was willing to take because he made it all come alive. (I got a double major in History and Geography). Even if it was a time era I wasn’t particularly interested in, I took his classes. History of China & History of Japan – but it has certainly helped me understand WHY those countries act the way they do towards the West.

    Reply
  7. The two teachers I remember most from high school are Mrs. Dothard (taught genetics) and Ms. Bradley (taught history). They just made everything seem VERY interesting!
    Ms. Bradly taught English History. One Semester up to the Reformation and the other from the Reformation to…just after WWII. This was the 70’s when I took it. Now that I think about it, that is an interesting time period since I was going to school in a smallish town in Georgia (US).
    In college it was Dr. Hoskins…my parents said I majored in Dr. Hoskins, not History. Whatever he taught I was willing to take because he made it all come alive. (I got a double major in History and Geography). Even if it was a time era I wasn’t particularly interested in, I took his classes. History of China & History of Japan – but it has certainly helped me understand WHY those countries act the way they do towards the West.

    Reply
  8. The two teachers I remember most from high school are Mrs. Dothard (taught genetics) and Ms. Bradley (taught history). They just made everything seem VERY interesting!
    Ms. Bradly taught English History. One Semester up to the Reformation and the other from the Reformation to…just after WWII. This was the 70’s when I took it. Now that I think about it, that is an interesting time period since I was going to school in a smallish town in Georgia (US).
    In college it was Dr. Hoskins…my parents said I majored in Dr. Hoskins, not History. Whatever he taught I was willing to take because he made it all come alive. (I got a double major in History and Geography). Even if it was a time era I wasn’t particularly interested in, I took his classes. History of China & History of Japan – but it has certainly helped me understand WHY those countries act the way they do towards the West.

    Reply
  9. The two teachers I remember most from high school are Mrs. Dothard (taught genetics) and Ms. Bradley (taught history). They just made everything seem VERY interesting!
    Ms. Bradly taught English History. One Semester up to the Reformation and the other from the Reformation to…just after WWII. This was the 70’s when I took it. Now that I think about it, that is an interesting time period since I was going to school in a smallish town in Georgia (US).
    In college it was Dr. Hoskins…my parents said I majored in Dr. Hoskins, not History. Whatever he taught I was willing to take because he made it all come alive. (I got a double major in History and Geography). Even if it was a time era I wasn’t particularly interested in, I took his classes. History of China & History of Japan – but it has certainly helped me understand WHY those countries act the way they do towards the West.

    Reply
  10. The two teachers I remember most from high school are Mrs. Dothard (taught genetics) and Ms. Bradley (taught history). They just made everything seem VERY interesting!
    Ms. Bradly taught English History. One Semester up to the Reformation and the other from the Reformation to…just after WWII. This was the 70’s when I took it. Now that I think about it, that is an interesting time period since I was going to school in a smallish town in Georgia (US).
    In college it was Dr. Hoskins…my parents said I majored in Dr. Hoskins, not History. Whatever he taught I was willing to take because he made it all come alive. (I got a double major in History and Geography). Even if it was a time era I wasn’t particularly interested in, I took his classes. History of China & History of Japan – but it has certainly helped me understand WHY those countries act the way they do towards the West.

    Reply
  11. I had some amazing teacher during my school days. One of my last ones was Mr Becht. He was our government teacher and was very good.. This was in the late 60’s.. so it was an interesting time to say the least!

    Reply
  12. I had some amazing teacher during my school days. One of my last ones was Mr Becht. He was our government teacher and was very good.. This was in the late 60’s.. so it was an interesting time to say the least!

    Reply
  13. I had some amazing teacher during my school days. One of my last ones was Mr Becht. He was our government teacher and was very good.. This was in the late 60’s.. so it was an interesting time to say the least!

    Reply
  14. I had some amazing teacher during my school days. One of my last ones was Mr Becht. He was our government teacher and was very good.. This was in the late 60’s.. so it was an interesting time to say the least!

    Reply
  15. I had some amazing teacher during my school days. One of my last ones was Mr Becht. He was our government teacher and was very good.. This was in the late 60’s.. so it was an interesting time to say the least!

    Reply
  16. I was quite fortunate to have a dedicated bunch of teachers throughout my school life but my favourite one was my class teacher when I was 12. She was everything that you imagine a teacher would be: dedicated, caring, fun! She made studying enjoyable.

    Reply
  17. I was quite fortunate to have a dedicated bunch of teachers throughout my school life but my favourite one was my class teacher when I was 12. She was everything that you imagine a teacher would be: dedicated, caring, fun! She made studying enjoyable.

    Reply
  18. I was quite fortunate to have a dedicated bunch of teachers throughout my school life but my favourite one was my class teacher when I was 12. She was everything that you imagine a teacher would be: dedicated, caring, fun! She made studying enjoyable.

    Reply
  19. I was quite fortunate to have a dedicated bunch of teachers throughout my school life but my favourite one was my class teacher when I was 12. She was everything that you imagine a teacher would be: dedicated, caring, fun! She made studying enjoyable.

    Reply
  20. I was quite fortunate to have a dedicated bunch of teachers throughout my school life but my favourite one was my class teacher when I was 12. She was everything that you imagine a teacher would be: dedicated, caring, fun! She made studying enjoyable.

    Reply
  21. WONDERFUL blog, Nicola! It’s so very special to see your photos of Belsay and learn the rich history of the place. I can really picture our characters getting ready for the family Christmas Ball.
    Teachers are SO important in inspiring a love for a subject. I’ve had many good ones, but my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Kearney, really made history come alive for me. (I think she sometimes regretted it as on more than one occasion I was gently scolded for having a history book hidden in my lap when I was supposed to be doing math problems!)

    Reply
  22. WONDERFUL blog, Nicola! It’s so very special to see your photos of Belsay and learn the rich history of the place. I can really picture our characters getting ready for the family Christmas Ball.
    Teachers are SO important in inspiring a love for a subject. I’ve had many good ones, but my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Kearney, really made history come alive for me. (I think she sometimes regretted it as on more than one occasion I was gently scolded for having a history book hidden in my lap when I was supposed to be doing math problems!)

    Reply
  23. WONDERFUL blog, Nicola! It’s so very special to see your photos of Belsay and learn the rich history of the place. I can really picture our characters getting ready for the family Christmas Ball.
    Teachers are SO important in inspiring a love for a subject. I’ve had many good ones, but my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Kearney, really made history come alive for me. (I think she sometimes regretted it as on more than one occasion I was gently scolded for having a history book hidden in my lap when I was supposed to be doing math problems!)

    Reply
  24. WONDERFUL blog, Nicola! It’s so very special to see your photos of Belsay and learn the rich history of the place. I can really picture our characters getting ready for the family Christmas Ball.
    Teachers are SO important in inspiring a love for a subject. I’ve had many good ones, but my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Kearney, really made history come alive for me. (I think she sometimes regretted it as on more than one occasion I was gently scolded for having a history book hidden in my lap when I was supposed to be doing math problems!)

    Reply
  25. WONDERFUL blog, Nicola! It’s so very special to see your photos of Belsay and learn the rich history of the place. I can really picture our characters getting ready for the family Christmas Ball.
    Teachers are SO important in inspiring a love for a subject. I’ve had many good ones, but my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Kearney, really made history come alive for me. (I think she sometimes regretted it as on more than one occasion I was gently scolded for having a history book hidden in my lap when I was supposed to be doing math problems!)

    Reply
  26. What a wonderfully evocative blog, Nicola! I particularly like the description from the late 19th century visitor. The warmth and beauty of the house that she described is exactly how I wanted Holbourne Hall to be.

    Reply
  27. What a wonderfully evocative blog, Nicola! I particularly like the description from the late 19th century visitor. The warmth and beauty of the house that she described is exactly how I wanted Holbourne Hall to be.

    Reply
  28. What a wonderfully evocative blog, Nicola! I particularly like the description from the late 19th century visitor. The warmth and beauty of the house that she described is exactly how I wanted Holbourne Hall to be.

    Reply
  29. What a wonderfully evocative blog, Nicola! I particularly like the description from the late 19th century visitor. The warmth and beauty of the house that she described is exactly how I wanted Holbourne Hall to be.

    Reply
  30. What a wonderfully evocative blog, Nicola! I particularly like the description from the late 19th century visitor. The warmth and beauty of the house that she described is exactly how I wanted Holbourne Hall to be.

    Reply
  31. Several years ago I went on a tour of Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, New York. It’s a 19th-century Georgian mansion with striking views of the Hudson River. It has been continuously restored to enable coming generations to enjoy its beauty and explore this great American house from the past.

    Reply
  32. Several years ago I went on a tour of Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, New York. It’s a 19th-century Georgian mansion with striking views of the Hudson River. It has been continuously restored to enable coming generations to enjoy its beauty and explore this great American house from the past.

    Reply
  33. Several years ago I went on a tour of Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, New York. It’s a 19th-century Georgian mansion with striking views of the Hudson River. It has been continuously restored to enable coming generations to enjoy its beauty and explore this great American house from the past.

    Reply
  34. Several years ago I went on a tour of Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, New York. It’s a 19th-century Georgian mansion with striking views of the Hudson River. It has been continuously restored to enable coming generations to enjoy its beauty and explore this great American house from the past.

    Reply
  35. Several years ago I went on a tour of Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, New York. It’s a 19th-century Georgian mansion with striking views of the Hudson River. It has been continuously restored to enable coming generations to enjoy its beauty and explore this great American house from the past.

    Reply
  36. Since I was raised in a family of teachers, many of the teachers who influenced me were family and family friends as opposed to those I met in the classroom.
    I had a teacher who taught me in fourth grade, was promoted along with my class to fifth grade, and again promoted with us to sixth grade. I quote her more often than any other teacher I ever had. Perhaps it was because of those three years, but I doubt it. My children also had Miss Pickle as a teacher each for only one year; all three children also frequently quote what Miss Pickle said.

    Reply
  37. Since I was raised in a family of teachers, many of the teachers who influenced me were family and family friends as opposed to those I met in the classroom.
    I had a teacher who taught me in fourth grade, was promoted along with my class to fifth grade, and again promoted with us to sixth grade. I quote her more often than any other teacher I ever had. Perhaps it was because of those three years, but I doubt it. My children also had Miss Pickle as a teacher each for only one year; all three children also frequently quote what Miss Pickle said.

    Reply
  38. Since I was raised in a family of teachers, many of the teachers who influenced me were family and family friends as opposed to those I met in the classroom.
    I had a teacher who taught me in fourth grade, was promoted along with my class to fifth grade, and again promoted with us to sixth grade. I quote her more often than any other teacher I ever had. Perhaps it was because of those three years, but I doubt it. My children also had Miss Pickle as a teacher each for only one year; all three children also frequently quote what Miss Pickle said.

    Reply
  39. Since I was raised in a family of teachers, many of the teachers who influenced me were family and family friends as opposed to those I met in the classroom.
    I had a teacher who taught me in fourth grade, was promoted along with my class to fifth grade, and again promoted with us to sixth grade. I quote her more often than any other teacher I ever had. Perhaps it was because of those three years, but I doubt it. My children also had Miss Pickle as a teacher each for only one year; all three children also frequently quote what Miss Pickle said.

    Reply
  40. Since I was raised in a family of teachers, many of the teachers who influenced me were family and family friends as opposed to those I met in the classroom.
    I had a teacher who taught me in fourth grade, was promoted along with my class to fifth grade, and again promoted with us to sixth grade. I quote her more often than any other teacher I ever had. Perhaps it was because of those three years, but I doubt it. My children also had Miss Pickle as a teacher each for only one year; all three children also frequently quote what Miss Pickle said.

    Reply
  41. I had a science teacher in college that inspired many of us. Dr. Redkay was in charge of the Honors Program when I met him. He was our advisor for 4 years. He had students in the program over to his house and never was too busy to answer questions or help.He was an artist and did wonderful paintings.

    Reply
  42. I had a science teacher in college that inspired many of us. Dr. Redkay was in charge of the Honors Program when I met him. He was our advisor for 4 years. He had students in the program over to his house and never was too busy to answer questions or help.He was an artist and did wonderful paintings.

    Reply
  43. I had a science teacher in college that inspired many of us. Dr. Redkay was in charge of the Honors Program when I met him. He was our advisor for 4 years. He had students in the program over to his house and never was too busy to answer questions or help.He was an artist and did wonderful paintings.

    Reply
  44. I had a science teacher in college that inspired many of us. Dr. Redkay was in charge of the Honors Program when I met him. He was our advisor for 4 years. He had students in the program over to his house and never was too busy to answer questions or help.He was an artist and did wonderful paintings.

    Reply
  45. I had a science teacher in college that inspired many of us. Dr. Redkay was in charge of the Honors Program when I met him. He was our advisor for 4 years. He had students in the program over to his house and never was too busy to answer questions or help.He was an artist and did wonderful paintings.

    Reply
  46. Thanks so much for sharing that and the awesome pictures too. I like visual descriptions too. My favorite teachers taught English, Drama, and music. Those were the classes I did the best in. I liked Social Studies too (maybe a bit different than in the States. It encompassed History, geography, and humanity. I loved both the Canadian History and World history. And of anything on the UK as that’s where I was born. So I delight in seeing pictures of historic places that are still around. Especially as Canada’s history is still so young.

    Reply
  47. Thanks so much for sharing that and the awesome pictures too. I like visual descriptions too. My favorite teachers taught English, Drama, and music. Those were the classes I did the best in. I liked Social Studies too (maybe a bit different than in the States. It encompassed History, geography, and humanity. I loved both the Canadian History and World history. And of anything on the UK as that’s where I was born. So I delight in seeing pictures of historic places that are still around. Especially as Canada’s history is still so young.

    Reply
  48. Thanks so much for sharing that and the awesome pictures too. I like visual descriptions too. My favorite teachers taught English, Drama, and music. Those were the classes I did the best in. I liked Social Studies too (maybe a bit different than in the States. It encompassed History, geography, and humanity. I loved both the Canadian History and World history. And of anything on the UK as that’s where I was born. So I delight in seeing pictures of historic places that are still around. Especially as Canada’s history is still so young.

    Reply
  49. Thanks so much for sharing that and the awesome pictures too. I like visual descriptions too. My favorite teachers taught English, Drama, and music. Those were the classes I did the best in. I liked Social Studies too (maybe a bit different than in the States. It encompassed History, geography, and humanity. I loved both the Canadian History and World history. And of anything on the UK as that’s where I was born. So I delight in seeing pictures of historic places that are still around. Especially as Canada’s history is still so young.

    Reply
  50. Thanks so much for sharing that and the awesome pictures too. I like visual descriptions too. My favorite teachers taught English, Drama, and music. Those were the classes I did the best in. I liked Social Studies too (maybe a bit different than in the States. It encompassed History, geography, and humanity. I loved both the Canadian History and World history. And of anything on the UK as that’s where I was born. So I delight in seeing pictures of historic places that are still around. Especially as Canada’s history is still so young.

    Reply
  51. Oh I just loved my English literature/grammar/science teacher. Mrs Edna Mahableshwerwala was a fascinating combination of Irish, Scottish, Swedish and English background, married to a Parsi gentleman. She motivated and inspired you to do better than your best. And you wanted to do it. For her. Because she would go all out for us. She was a wonderful storyteller. She told us the entire story of The Eye of Needle by Ken Follet, Armageddon and Cry of the Battle, and Exodus by Leon Uris. These authors are some of my favorites and I own almost every book I can afford of theirs, in print and digital. There were many other stories. I used to write to her after we graduated. We lost touch, and she had since passed away. But recently, I went to see her husband. He remembered me, because Mabi (as we all called her to shorten the name), always talked about her students to him. The best part of the visit was when he asked me to choose 2 books from her library for myself. That was a hard choice! There were so many I wanted! And they all had her ownership signature on it! Best Experience! Viva La Mabi!

    Reply
  52. Oh I just loved my English literature/grammar/science teacher. Mrs Edna Mahableshwerwala was a fascinating combination of Irish, Scottish, Swedish and English background, married to a Parsi gentleman. She motivated and inspired you to do better than your best. And you wanted to do it. For her. Because she would go all out for us. She was a wonderful storyteller. She told us the entire story of The Eye of Needle by Ken Follet, Armageddon and Cry of the Battle, and Exodus by Leon Uris. These authors are some of my favorites and I own almost every book I can afford of theirs, in print and digital. There were many other stories. I used to write to her after we graduated. We lost touch, and she had since passed away. But recently, I went to see her husband. He remembered me, because Mabi (as we all called her to shorten the name), always talked about her students to him. The best part of the visit was when he asked me to choose 2 books from her library for myself. That was a hard choice! There were so many I wanted! And they all had her ownership signature on it! Best Experience! Viva La Mabi!

    Reply
  53. Oh I just loved my English literature/grammar/science teacher. Mrs Edna Mahableshwerwala was a fascinating combination of Irish, Scottish, Swedish and English background, married to a Parsi gentleman. She motivated and inspired you to do better than your best. And you wanted to do it. For her. Because she would go all out for us. She was a wonderful storyteller. She told us the entire story of The Eye of Needle by Ken Follet, Armageddon and Cry of the Battle, and Exodus by Leon Uris. These authors are some of my favorites and I own almost every book I can afford of theirs, in print and digital. There were many other stories. I used to write to her after we graduated. We lost touch, and she had since passed away. But recently, I went to see her husband. He remembered me, because Mabi (as we all called her to shorten the name), always talked about her students to him. The best part of the visit was when he asked me to choose 2 books from her library for myself. That was a hard choice! There were so many I wanted! And they all had her ownership signature on it! Best Experience! Viva La Mabi!

    Reply
  54. Oh I just loved my English literature/grammar/science teacher. Mrs Edna Mahableshwerwala was a fascinating combination of Irish, Scottish, Swedish and English background, married to a Parsi gentleman. She motivated and inspired you to do better than your best. And you wanted to do it. For her. Because she would go all out for us. She was a wonderful storyteller. She told us the entire story of The Eye of Needle by Ken Follet, Armageddon and Cry of the Battle, and Exodus by Leon Uris. These authors are some of my favorites and I own almost every book I can afford of theirs, in print and digital. There were many other stories. I used to write to her after we graduated. We lost touch, and she had since passed away. But recently, I went to see her husband. He remembered me, because Mabi (as we all called her to shorten the name), always talked about her students to him. The best part of the visit was when he asked me to choose 2 books from her library for myself. That was a hard choice! There were so many I wanted! And they all had her ownership signature on it! Best Experience! Viva La Mabi!

    Reply
  55. Oh I just loved my English literature/grammar/science teacher. Mrs Edna Mahableshwerwala was a fascinating combination of Irish, Scottish, Swedish and English background, married to a Parsi gentleman. She motivated and inspired you to do better than your best. And you wanted to do it. For her. Because she would go all out for us. She was a wonderful storyteller. She told us the entire story of The Eye of Needle by Ken Follet, Armageddon and Cry of the Battle, and Exodus by Leon Uris. These authors are some of my favorites and I own almost every book I can afford of theirs, in print and digital. There were many other stories. I used to write to her after we graduated. We lost touch, and she had since passed away. But recently, I went to see her husband. He remembered me, because Mabi (as we all called her to shorten the name), always talked about her students to him. The best part of the visit was when he asked me to choose 2 books from her library for myself. That was a hard choice! There were so many I wanted! And they all had her ownership signature on it! Best Experience! Viva La Mabi!

    Reply
  56. My inspiration for loving English history and literature was not just a teacher, but the teacher and her classroom. Set in a typical American 1930-ish high school, it was called Briton Hall, named after its first teacher-occupant, Miss Briton (quite a coincidence!). Miss B. was long gone when I arrived there for several semesters of English with Miss Pitts, which we thought was a very funny name—high school silliness, don’t you know.
    Anyway, the room was floored in flagstone and surrounded on three sides by faux stone pillars with a balcony, even, the perfect setting for excising Lady MacBeth’s demmed spot. Which we did, taking full advantage of the setting for the traditional small-group Shakespeare Project each semester. (I recall being Kate in Taming of the Shrew—fun.)
    To top it off, Miss Pitts actually looked like Shakespeare, right down to the wavy hair, the mustache, and enough chin hair to be imagined into a goatee. I don’t know if she was fostering the illusion or just didn’t care, but we didn’t care, either. The teacher and setting engaged even the lukewarm students. For me, the inspiration has lasted a lifetime.

    Reply
  57. My inspiration for loving English history and literature was not just a teacher, but the teacher and her classroom. Set in a typical American 1930-ish high school, it was called Briton Hall, named after its first teacher-occupant, Miss Briton (quite a coincidence!). Miss B. was long gone when I arrived there for several semesters of English with Miss Pitts, which we thought was a very funny name—high school silliness, don’t you know.
    Anyway, the room was floored in flagstone and surrounded on three sides by faux stone pillars with a balcony, even, the perfect setting for excising Lady MacBeth’s demmed spot. Which we did, taking full advantage of the setting for the traditional small-group Shakespeare Project each semester. (I recall being Kate in Taming of the Shrew—fun.)
    To top it off, Miss Pitts actually looked like Shakespeare, right down to the wavy hair, the mustache, and enough chin hair to be imagined into a goatee. I don’t know if she was fostering the illusion or just didn’t care, but we didn’t care, either. The teacher and setting engaged even the lukewarm students. For me, the inspiration has lasted a lifetime.

    Reply
  58. My inspiration for loving English history and literature was not just a teacher, but the teacher and her classroom. Set in a typical American 1930-ish high school, it was called Briton Hall, named after its first teacher-occupant, Miss Briton (quite a coincidence!). Miss B. was long gone when I arrived there for several semesters of English with Miss Pitts, which we thought was a very funny name—high school silliness, don’t you know.
    Anyway, the room was floored in flagstone and surrounded on three sides by faux stone pillars with a balcony, even, the perfect setting for excising Lady MacBeth’s demmed spot. Which we did, taking full advantage of the setting for the traditional small-group Shakespeare Project each semester. (I recall being Kate in Taming of the Shrew—fun.)
    To top it off, Miss Pitts actually looked like Shakespeare, right down to the wavy hair, the mustache, and enough chin hair to be imagined into a goatee. I don’t know if she was fostering the illusion or just didn’t care, but we didn’t care, either. The teacher and setting engaged even the lukewarm students. For me, the inspiration has lasted a lifetime.

    Reply
  59. My inspiration for loving English history and literature was not just a teacher, but the teacher and her classroom. Set in a typical American 1930-ish high school, it was called Briton Hall, named after its first teacher-occupant, Miss Briton (quite a coincidence!). Miss B. was long gone when I arrived there for several semesters of English with Miss Pitts, which we thought was a very funny name—high school silliness, don’t you know.
    Anyway, the room was floored in flagstone and surrounded on three sides by faux stone pillars with a balcony, even, the perfect setting for excising Lady MacBeth’s demmed spot. Which we did, taking full advantage of the setting for the traditional small-group Shakespeare Project each semester. (I recall being Kate in Taming of the Shrew—fun.)
    To top it off, Miss Pitts actually looked like Shakespeare, right down to the wavy hair, the mustache, and enough chin hair to be imagined into a goatee. I don’t know if she was fostering the illusion or just didn’t care, but we didn’t care, either. The teacher and setting engaged even the lukewarm students. For me, the inspiration has lasted a lifetime.

    Reply
  60. My inspiration for loving English history and literature was not just a teacher, but the teacher and her classroom. Set in a typical American 1930-ish high school, it was called Briton Hall, named after its first teacher-occupant, Miss Briton (quite a coincidence!). Miss B. was long gone when I arrived there for several semesters of English with Miss Pitts, which we thought was a very funny name—high school silliness, don’t you know.
    Anyway, the room was floored in flagstone and surrounded on three sides by faux stone pillars with a balcony, even, the perfect setting for excising Lady MacBeth’s demmed spot. Which we did, taking full advantage of the setting for the traditional small-group Shakespeare Project each semester. (I recall being Kate in Taming of the Shrew—fun.)
    To top it off, Miss Pitts actually looked like Shakespeare, right down to the wavy hair, the mustache, and enough chin hair to be imagined into a goatee. I don’t know if she was fostering the illusion or just didn’t care, but we didn’t care, either. The teacher and setting engaged even the lukewarm students. For me, the inspiration has lasted a lifetime.

    Reply
  61. I always liked history but the teacher who really inspired me was Dr. Ringgold from Magnolia, Mississippi. She told stories of historical figures like it was gossip. That made it so much more memorable than lists of battles and congressional bills.

    Reply
  62. I always liked history but the teacher who really inspired me was Dr. Ringgold from Magnolia, Mississippi. She told stories of historical figures like it was gossip. That made it so much more memorable than lists of battles and congressional bills.

    Reply
  63. I always liked history but the teacher who really inspired me was Dr. Ringgold from Magnolia, Mississippi. She told stories of historical figures like it was gossip. That made it so much more memorable than lists of battles and congressional bills.

    Reply
  64. I always liked history but the teacher who really inspired me was Dr. Ringgold from Magnolia, Mississippi. She told stories of historical figures like it was gossip. That made it so much more memorable than lists of battles and congressional bills.

    Reply
  65. I always liked history but the teacher who really inspired me was Dr. Ringgold from Magnolia, Mississippi. She told stories of historical figures like it was gossip. That made it so much more memorable than lists of battles and congressional bills.

    Reply
  66. Wow! Mrs Mahableshwerwala sounds wonderful, Kantu. You have made me realise how often its those books that influential teachers recommend that stay with us as lifetime favourites. HOw very special to be able to have a couple of books from her library as well.

    Reply
  67. Wow! Mrs Mahableshwerwala sounds wonderful, Kantu. You have made me realise how often its those books that influential teachers recommend that stay with us as lifetime favourites. HOw very special to be able to have a couple of books from her library as well.

    Reply
  68. Wow! Mrs Mahableshwerwala sounds wonderful, Kantu. You have made me realise how often its those books that influential teachers recommend that stay with us as lifetime favourites. HOw very special to be able to have a couple of books from her library as well.

    Reply
  69. Wow! Mrs Mahableshwerwala sounds wonderful, Kantu. You have made me realise how often its those books that influential teachers recommend that stay with us as lifetime favourites. HOw very special to be able to have a couple of books from her library as well.

    Reply
  70. Wow! Mrs Mahableshwerwala sounds wonderful, Kantu. You have made me realise how often its those books that influential teachers recommend that stay with us as lifetime favourites. HOw very special to be able to have a couple of books from her library as well.

    Reply
  71. What an amazing space to inspire you to learn, Mary.!Laughing at the thought of Miss Pitts looking like Shakespeare as well as teaching Shakespeare! But clearly she made a lifelong impression on you and that is the thing that really matters.

    Reply
  72. What an amazing space to inspire you to learn, Mary.!Laughing at the thought of Miss Pitts looking like Shakespeare as well as teaching Shakespeare! But clearly she made a lifelong impression on you and that is the thing that really matters.

    Reply
  73. What an amazing space to inspire you to learn, Mary.!Laughing at the thought of Miss Pitts looking like Shakespeare as well as teaching Shakespeare! But clearly she made a lifelong impression on you and that is the thing that really matters.

    Reply
  74. What an amazing space to inspire you to learn, Mary.!Laughing at the thought of Miss Pitts looking like Shakespeare as well as teaching Shakespeare! But clearly she made a lifelong impression on you and that is the thing that really matters.

    Reply
  75. What an amazing space to inspire you to learn, Mary.!Laughing at the thought of Miss Pitts looking like Shakespeare as well as teaching Shakespeare! But clearly she made a lifelong impression on you and that is the thing that really matters.

    Reply
  76. Bringing history alive by telling it like a racy story is fantastic, Kathy. That was how my history teacher, Mrs Chary, taught us. I can still remember her telling us about Henry VIII’s 6 wives and it was just like a soap opera!

    Reply
  77. Bringing history alive by telling it like a racy story is fantastic, Kathy. That was how my history teacher, Mrs Chary, taught us. I can still remember her telling us about Henry VIII’s 6 wives and it was just like a soap opera!

    Reply
  78. Bringing history alive by telling it like a racy story is fantastic, Kathy. That was how my history teacher, Mrs Chary, taught us. I can still remember her telling us about Henry VIII’s 6 wives and it was just like a soap opera!

    Reply
  79. Bringing history alive by telling it like a racy story is fantastic, Kathy. That was how my history teacher, Mrs Chary, taught us. I can still remember her telling us about Henry VIII’s 6 wives and it was just like a soap opera!

    Reply
  80. Bringing history alive by telling it like a racy story is fantastic, Kathy. That was how my history teacher, Mrs Chary, taught us. I can still remember her telling us about Henry VIII’s 6 wives and it was just like a soap opera!

    Reply

Leave a Comment