My summer project takes off. Let's hope it lands safely.
A few years ago, I wrote a series of articles about noteable Irish women to post on an Irish culture blog I write for occasionally. One of the articles tells the story of Lilian Bland, the first woman in the world to design, build, and fly an airplane. She lived near Belfast. (You can read that post here: Lilian Bland, Irish Aviator).
I first discovered Lilian in an article in the Irish Times, if I recall that correctly. She captivated my imagination from the start. I soon found LilianBland.ie, an archive collected by Madeleine O'Rourke. It's a treasure trove full of photos, letters, articles, and more. Lilian's creative, ambitious personality seems to shine from her written words and the photos of her.
Time went by with lots of other projects and my job as a substitute elementary school teacher. At school, I get to read lots of children's literature, which I love because it's clear and colorful. It has to be to keep the attention of children and teach them something before they want to run outside and play.
So in the spring of 2021, I decided to put it all together and write a book of historical fiction about Lilian for kids. It'll be a challenge, lots to learn. But that's my kind of fun. So far, I’m finding that delving into the story of one remarkable person leads to deep dives into many areas of history. Here are some of the historical subjects Lilian has led me to: dry plate photography, early women aviators, Glenn Curtiss, the Gordon Bennett prizes, Edith Garrud’s jiu-jitsu lessons for suffragettes, and ancient raths on Carnmoney Hill.
I'm excited to see what happens next. If you're interested in following my journey, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. I plan to send updates once a month or so.