Ever hear of Flat Stanley? He’s a character in a children’s story who accidentally gets flattened when a cork board falls on him. He then takes advantage of his two-dimentional-ness to slide underneath doors and go places no one else can.
In 1994, a man named Dale Hubert thought it would be fun if children created their own Flat Stanleys and mailed them to friends and family all over the world. The receiving families would “host” the Stanleys, showing them around town and keeping a journal about the places they’d gone. When the “visit” was over, the receiving family would mail the Stanleys back to their owners, along with the journals. Children could learn about other places in the world in an authentic, non-textbook sort of way. And thus the Flat Stanley Project was born.
I thought it would be entertaining to have a Flat Stanley for the historically-minded, one to take with me on my (admittedly few) travels. Since I’m writing a Regency-era novel, I wanted a prominent, recognizable figure from that time period. It also made sense to continue the theme and use a person who had traveled extensively during his or her lifetime. I settled on Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who I was familiar with…and who would look good on camera 🙂
I cut him out and pasted him to some sturdy cardboard to help him survive his journeys. Then I packed him in my suitcase and took him to the Historical Novel Society’s 2013 Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.
We spent most of our time at the hotel, the beautiful Renaissance Vinoy. Photo credit goes to Margaret Rodenberg, who stepped in with her camera when mine threw a tantrum. Thanks Margaret!
His Grace was also kind enough to come with me to my Blue Pencil Cafe appointment, where I had the first two pages of my WIP critiqued by the lovely Kris Waldherr. He was supposed to give us privacy, but I think he was eavesdropping–listening for his own name, perhaps?
I did not take him with me to David Blixt‘s sword fighting workshop, mostly because I didn’t want to hear him prattle on about his own prowess. Or how my form was wrong. Or how the exit sign that I nearly decapitated never did anything to me. Since I ended up with a nice medieval broadsword rather than a rapier or smallsword (which he’d be more familiar with), His Grace probably wouldn’t have been too critical. But I think he enjoyed his quiet time in the hotel room. I certainly enjoyed the workshop!
We did take a walk together, though, on the last day of the conference, and talked over our experiences in this pretty little park across the street.
Sitting on a bench in the shade, I asked His Grace if he had enjoyed his stay in St. Petersburg. He told me it wasn’t bad–better than his last trip to Spain. But he wished we’d gotten out more, seen more of the town than just the hotel and the park.
Maybe you can help, my wonderful readers! Are you going to a conference or convention involving history or writing? Taking a trip to a historic place with the family? Researching for school, work, or pleasure? Perhaps you could make a Flat Arthur of your own, and take him with you 😀