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Cousin Enriqueta


You know it as a psychological disorder, horror vacuii — a fear of emptiness — but it’s also attributed to Aristotle as a truism of science: “Nature abhors a vacuum.” In this case that vacuum is ignorance, anything I’ve recently discovered as a void in my knowledge base. Fear not: I am blessed with far more void that information. Plenty of room to fill.

A recent discovery — maybe that should be “uncovery” — concerns the history of the John Rylands Library in Manchester, a favorite building of mine, designed by architect Basil Champneys. [Why do I remember shit like this?] Someone looked up Rylands and discovered his wife Enriqueta — whose statue stands opposite his at the ends of the library’s reading room — was born Enriqueta Augustina TENNANT in Havana, Cuba in 1843. My thoughts immediately turned to the ways she might be related to the hero of our tale here in Agincourt, Anson Tennant.

To give Anson both a back story and a future, I had invented a family tree for him extending four generations back and two forward and was feeling pretty satisfied with myself. Now this new challenge has been thrust in my face: How can I related the fictional Anson Curtiss Tennant to the very real and entirely admirable Mrs Rylands? At best, she and Anson could be fifth cousins or fourth cousins once removed.

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