Laura's Blog

Happy Birthday, Richard Varick!

March 15, 2018

Varick.png

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RICHARD! 

General Philip Schuyler’s steadfast aide was one of those delightful surprises that research can yield.  As I read biographies on Schuyler, I kept seeing footnotes referencing some of Richard’s letters back and forth with his commanding officer.  At first trying to get my hands on those letters was simply to verify Peggy’s whereabouts and any details Richard recorded of the circumstances surrounding the Schuyler Mansion that she would have witnessed.  The only place those letters were to be had was at the NYPL special collection.  And at that point, the letters were only on old-school microfilm— shadowy, grainy images—and only so well catalogued. 

I was drowning in other research, given the quick turn-around necessary for PEGGY’s narrative, so assistant editor Mabel Hsu went for me. (Please see her beautifully written blog (Feb. 5th) about the experience: http://lmelliott.com/lauras-blog/guest-blog-discoveries-nypl-mabel-hsu/ ) I am so grateful for her patience and meticulous search because I wanted specific letters that were scattered shot in different topic “folders.” Getting them took a lot of digging through reams of unrelated documents to locate and then following her own gut instincts about whether something I hadn’t requested was important.

Mabel began sending me copies of the microfilmed documents, still in Richard’s sweeping handwriting—which I have to say was quite difficult to read sometimes. To completely absorb the content and to be able to quote the letters correctly I would struggle through those looping, fast-scrawled words and ink blots to read them aloud into my cell phone. Then I emailed myself those texts and cleaned up the inevitable mistakes and infuriating auto corrects that garbled his sentences. 

Tedious, aggravating…and oh so very wonderful.

What emerged was a window into an incredibly earnest, devoted man, prone to endearing outbursts of indignation when he felt someone had slighted Schuyler.  And at the end of almost every note was treasure: Either a comment about Miss Peggy that he had observed that day, or when he was stationed at the Battle of Saratoga a plea to “Please give my best to Miss Peggy.”

Those words verified where Peggy was on those dates, so I could factually place her into certain scenes of her father’s critically important work as war strategist, spy master, and chief negotiator with the Iroquois.  Because Richard didn’t mention the older sisters, Eliza and Angelica, I knew that those famed women were geographically elsewhere during much of my novel’s action. AND that “Please give my best to Miss Peggy” also told me that Richard Varick might have had a bit of a crush on his boss’s daughter.

I really hadn’t planned on including much of Richard Varick in Peggy’s narrative. But because of those letters he became a really sweet and important foil and support for the Schuylers, that ever-present “best friend” that a girl genuinely cares about but just can’t fall in love with. And in many ways he became a kind of Greek chorus telling my readers the political tragedies of Philip Schuyler.

Richard truly is one of those unsung behind-the-scenes heroes of the Revolution. Among many other things, he survived being Benedict Arnold’s aide when Arnold turned traitor (Richard’s bitter disappointment in his hero’s betrayal is heartbreaking) and probably thanks to Philip Schuyler interceding became George Washington’s recording secretary.  He organized and edited thousands of Washington’s letters, dispatches, journal entries, and battle proposals. It is entirely fair to say that Varick and the diligent scribes he oversaw so carefully to produce the forty-four volumes of Washington’s wartime papers housed in the Library of Congress are responsible for our modern-day knowledge of the Revolution.

Please see his entry in Major Players to learn a little more about wonderfully dedicated patriot : http://lmelliott.com/book_landing_page_historical/hamilton-and-peggy-revolutionary-friendship/cast-characters/

Other Blog Posts


Guest Blog: In Appreciation of Thomas Kail

Posted by laura on June 22, 2018


Happy Father's Day to America's #1 Founding Father

Posted by laura on June 17, 2018



The Hurricane that gave us Alexander Hamilton

Posted by laura on May 14, 2018



Lafayette's Love, Adrienne

Posted by laura on April 26, 2018


THE FINAL AND OFFICIAL COVER

Posted by laura on April 16, 2018


THE FOURTH COVER OPTIONS

Posted by laura on April 11, 2018


The Room Where Peggy Happened: The Library

Posted by laura on April 9, 2018


The Third Cover Options

Posted by laura on April 8, 2018


THE SECOND COVER OPTIONS

Posted by laura on April 6, 2018


The First Cover Options

Posted by laura on April 4, 2018


HOW A COVER GETS MADE

Posted by laura on April 2, 2018


Guest Blog: Theodosia Writes Me a Letter Every Day...

Posted by laura on March 28, 2018





Lucy Knox: Romantic and Patriot

Posted by laura on March 20, 2018



Happy Birthday, Richard Varick!

Posted by laura on March 15, 2018


Uncle Johnny, the “ Good Dr. Bones”

Posted by laura on March 12, 2018


Peggy as a YA Heroine

Posted by laura on March 7, 2018


Guest Blog: The Power of Letters

Posted by laura on March 5, 2018


Happy Birthday, Baby Caty!

Posted by laura on March 4, 2018



The Power of Historical Fiction for Teens

Posted by laura on February 27, 2018


To the Students of Parkland

Posted by laura on February 26, 2018


Guest Blog: From the Editor, Katherine Tegen

Posted by laura on February 25, 2018


Happy Birthday, Gentleman Johnny!

Posted by laura on February 24, 2018



Peggy's Romantic Life

Posted by laura on February 22, 2018


A Long Song for George Washington

Posted by laura on February 19, 2018


24 hours until Event at Politics and Prose!

Posted by laura on February 18, 2018


Guest Blog: 5 Fun Facts about George Washington

Posted by laura on February 16, 2018


Guest Blog: Historical Galentines!

Posted by laura on February 12, 2018


Fun for Sunday Afternoon!

Posted by laura on February 11, 2018


Countdown to Launch on Galentine’s Day!

Posted by laura on February 9, 2018


Guest Blog: Favorite Sisters in Fiction

Posted by laura on February 7, 2018


Happy Birthday to Aaron Burr, Sir

Posted by laura on February 6, 2018


Guest Blog: Discoveries in the NYPL by Mabel Hsu

Posted by laura on February 5, 2018


Guest Blog: The Creation of a Book Trailer

Posted by laura on February 2, 2018


Today and McCarthy

Posted by laura on February 1, 2018


A Schuyler Sisters Super Bowl

Posted by laura on January 31, 2018


Meet Peggy Schuyler!

Posted by laura on January 28, 2018


The Youngest Soldier of the Revolution

Posted by laura on January 26, 2018


Happy Birthday, Daveed!

Posted by laura on January 24, 2018


Guest Blog from Moxii

Posted by laura on January 21, 2018



Happy Birthday Benedict Arnold - January 14, 1741

Posted by adminC on January 10, 2018


Happy Birthday, Alexander! January 11

Posted by adminC on January 10, 2018


Happy Anniversary George and Martha!

Posted by laura on January 6, 2018


"The Hard Winter" when Peggy met Hamilton

Posted by laura on January 1, 2018


Happy New Year's!

Posted by laura on December 31, 2017


Duck and Cover Mindset

Posted by laura on October 9, 2017


Happy Birthday Fahrenheit 451!

Posted by laura on October 4, 2017


Banned Books & President Eisenhower

Posted by laura on September 28, 2017


Knocked Over By a Feather: McCarthy and Book Burning

Posted by laura on September 24, 2017


Librarians in the Battle of “Fake News”

Posted by laura on September 21, 2017


McCarthy to Trump Connections

Posted by laura on September 19, 2017


Fourth of July....And Peggy!

Posted by laura on July 4, 2017


Coming September 2017: SUSPECT RED

Posted by laura on April 17, 2017


Thoughts on Veteran's Day

Posted by laura on November 11, 2016



Leonardo the Writer

Posted by laura on April 19, 2016


A Live Look at Verrocchio

Posted by laura on April 18, 2016


The Teacher Behind Leonardo

Posted by laura on April 16, 2016


Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!

Posted by laura on April 15, 2016



The Town of Vinci

Posted by laura on April 12, 2016


Leonardo’s Top 5 Most Imaginative Inventions

Posted by laura on April 11, 2016


Valentine's Day During the Renaissance

Posted by laura on February 14, 2016


Valentine's Day Activities!

Posted by laura on February 8, 2016


Historical #WCW: Artemisia Gentileschi

Posted by laura on February 3, 2016


Anniversary of the Joust

Posted by laura on January 29, 2016


Great Falls Friends & Neighbors Event

Posted by laura on January 14, 2016


My New Literary Friends to the North

Posted by laura on January 4, 2016


Ti Amo, Piombino

Posted by laura on December 28, 2015


The Holidays in Renaissance Florence

Posted by laura on December 23, 2015


Florentine Decorations

Posted by laura on December 15, 2015


Just in Time for Holiday Shopping!

Posted by laura on December 4, 2015


A Very Renaissance Thanksgiving

Posted by laura on November 26, 2015


NCTE Thanks

Posted by laura on November 23, 2015


#TBT: Another guest blog!

Posted by laura on November 19, 2015


Guest Blog: Researching DA VINCI'S TIGER

Posted by laura on November 17, 2015


NCTE 2015

Posted by laura on November 17, 2015


Exciting News!

Posted by laura on November 13, 2015


So What Did Leonardo Really Look Like and Act Like?

Posted by laura on November 9, 2015


Get Your Plato On!

Posted by laura on November 7, 2015


The Ambassador

Posted by laura on November 2, 2015


#TBT: My love of horses

Posted by laura on October 29, 2015


The Lady Behind the Portrait

Posted by laura on October 28, 2015


LORENZO, Il Magnifico: The defacto ruler of Florence

Posted by laura on October 26, 2015


Throwback Thursday: My first trip to Florence

Posted by laura on October 22, 2015


The Kick-Butt Abbess

Posted by laura on October 21, 2015


Santa Croce: The Site of the Joust!

Posted by laura on October 20, 2015


Meet Florence’s “Prince of Youth”

Posted by laura on October 19, 2015


Some Loves Start Early!

Posted by laura on October 15, 2015


The Duomo Bells

Posted by laura on October 14, 2015


Leonardo's Other Female Portraits

Posted by laura on October 14, 2015


6 Things You May Not Know About Leonardo Da Vinci

Posted by laura on October 12, 2015


Epic Reads Discussion Guide

Posted by laura on October 8, 2015


Talk at the National Gallery of Art!

Posted by laura on October 7, 2015


First Reviews for Da Vinci's Tiger!

Posted by laura on September 27, 2015


NEW COVER for DA VINCI'S TIGER

Posted by laura on August 13, 2015


YA Sync Free Download of Under a War Torn Sky LIVE!

Posted by laura on August 6, 2015


Mark Your Calendars

Posted by laura on July 6, 2015


The Beauty of Synchronicity

Posted by laura on May 18, 2015


70th Anniversary of VE Day

Posted by laura on May 8, 2015


Why Write A Trilogy?

Posted by laura on April 14, 2015


Valentine's Day

Posted by laura on February 8, 2015


Listening to the Audiobook of Under a War Torn Sky

Posted by laura on February 3, 2015


A Wonderful Fall

Posted by adminC on October 29, 2014


close