Dreams come true part two… I am so incredibly honored and truly grateful to finally have the opportunity to meet my favorite British historian and author, role model, and hero Alison Weir last night!!! I journeyed to a library in some suburb of Leicester to hear Alison Weir give a talk on her new biography, Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen. I am embarrassed to say that I haven’t read the book, but considering that it came out right after I got to England, and I’m crazy insane busy as a student already, and it costs £20, I feel a little less bad.
I took a train from Notts to Leicester, and then took a city bus (first city bus ride in Leicester!) to the Oadby Library. I wanted to make sure I had enough time, just in case something went wrong—what if I missed my train? What if the next train was delayed? What if I got the wrong bus? What if I got lost? What if I had to walk from the train station? What if I couldn’t find the library? What if any possible occurrence happened that might make me even the slightest bit late? Typical questions that have the same outcome: me being obscenely early for all trains/buses.
So the end result: I started waiting outside the library at 5:35pm for an event that started at 7:00. Look at all the fucks I give.
During my long wait outside in the cold, I made besties with the bookseller, who arrived early and tried to let the library people let me in early so that I didn’t have to wait out in the cold (they didn’t.). Finally around 6:20 I was joined by about 5 other people, and so the library people finally let us in. I was proudly the first person through the doors, and got a front-row seat. Fuck da police!!! Front-row seat!!!
I was literally so excited I could barely sit still. And then I turned around and I saw Alison Weir talking with the librarians!!! She was there!!!!!! When she came up to the front and sat down, she said hi to me (and other people who were in the front row but whatever she talked to me) and then the bookseller/librarian pointed me out as the girl who had been queuing outside in the cold since before 6, and so I took my chance and went up and talked to her!!!
Oh my god, we literally had a legit conversation and I can’t even believe it happened and all my dreams came true. I told her how much I love all her books (I’ve read all of them except Katherine Swynford and the new one), how she made me love England, and that she’s the reason I’m here now. She was so nice, she thanked me and told me I was so kind. She asked me where I’m from (she has not been to Minnesota!) and asked what I’m studying (history), and what time period. When I said the Tudors, she just looked at me and gave me this face as if to say “yes, you’re in the right place.” I told her that Princes in the Tower was my favorite of her books, and all of a sudden she started talking to me about this letter and how they think someone added in the “body” part later and I had no idea what she was talking about (obviously, since I haven’t read Elizabeth of York), but she was still talking to me. Alison Weir!!! Talking to ME!!! As if I were her peer and equal!!! WHAT?!??!?! Oh my god, I literally can’t stop smiling even as I’m typing this.
Anyway, I felt that I should let her actually do her talk and not just crowd her like a crazy obsessed fan (which I am), so yeah basically we had a real conversation and I talked to her. I can’t believe it.
Her talk was excellent—she, OBVIOUSLY, knows her stuff (she said she first started research Elizabeth of York in the 1970s) and I just felt like I learned so much. I can’t wait to read the book, so much research has gone into it, and as she told me when we chatted, she does talk a lot about the Princes, since “their fate is pivotal to what happened to Elizabeth.” Elizabeth of York is such an interesting character in history, and I can’t wait to find out more about her. Summing her up in one word, Erasmus called her “brilliant.” Also, there were red and white roses on her table, which I don’t think was coincidence :)
After the talk she fielded questions, including the highly contentious one of where Richard III should be buried—she said, “I’m in Leicester now, I know!” but ultimately asked the audience where they thought Richard would want to be buried. He had founded chantries in both York, Middleham, and his family is buried in Fotheringhay. It’s such a divisive debate, so it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up. I’m hoping for Leicester, not because I really think that it’s the best place for him, but just because Leicester is closest to Nottingham and I selfishly want them to hurry the fuck up and bury him so that I can go see his grave before I leave!
I was one of the first people to get my book signed—when my family came over winter break, I specifically requested that they bring me my own copy of Princes in the Tower (Savers, $2.99) so that when I met her, I could have her sign that copy. Not only did she sign my book (it’s an older edition, and when I gave it to her she said, “haven’t seen one of these in a while!”) but I also got a picture with her!!!
After that, I didn’t want to be too much of a stalker so I headed to the bus stop, got the next bus, took the next train back to Notts, took the bus home, and just exploded with happiness when I got home.
I can’t believe it all happened!!!!!! This woman has been probably the most influential person in my life for the past 7 years. Freshman year of high school I did two projects on various Tudor related people for my World History class, and then I read Alison Weir’s Six Wives of Henry VIII. It took off after that and I never looked back, I read every book I could get my hands on and I’m still constantly left with a pile of books to read. She has consistently been my favorite author, “my girl,” and I am constantly amazed every time I read one of her books. Her writing has made history accessible to me, her research is mind-blowing and never ceases to amaze me, and I can’t believe that I finally got to meet her. She introduced me to my people, and I’ve fallen so deeply in love with all of them. I can’t imagine my life without them.
In the last week, I have been lucky enough to live out all my dreams at the Katherine of Aragon Festival, and then to meet and talk with my hero Alison Weir. Dreams do come true. I am the luckiest girl in the whole world, and so truly blessed.
To sum up everything for me this last week, here is Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote from his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture in 1964, which always reminds me of being in England and of my people:
"Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart."