Saturday, September 5, 2015

White Rats and Genealogy

It's certainly been a while since I wrote an Oz blog! Now that I'm retired as "Mr. Winkie Convention" perhaps I'll be able to do this blogging thing a trifle more frequently.

Today, I'm sharing a recent acquisition to the Tiger Den - a lovely copy of Rachel Cosgrove's 1963 novel, Not For Glory.

It's actually a pretty decent book - perhaps most interesting to an Oz fan for its biographical insight into the life of its author. This "career" novel is set in a pharmaceutical lab. And Rachel Cosgrove herself had been trained as a biologist and worked for many years in a pharmaceutical lab before she turned to writing full-time. And main character, Faye Viccars, works a lot with white rats who are obviously cousins of beloved Oz rat, Percy.

In addition to being a "career" novel the book is also a mystery, which was one of Rachel's favorite types of tale to tell. And this book came with a small mystery of its own!

The book is actually a presentation copy inscribed by Cosgrove: "To Aunt Linnie and Uncle Chester."

Laid inside the book was a typed letter from Rachel to the apparent relatives dated February 26, 1965. It said, "Dear Aunt Linnie - I thought that you and Uncle Chester might enjoy my latest book. Love, Rachel"

Having known Rachel quite well, and being curious who the book had belonged to, I emailed Cosgrove's son and asked him about Aunt Linnie and Uncle Chester. He didn't recognize their names, but suggested they were probably from the Cosgrove side of the family. Somehow, the fact that he didn't know who these relatives were made me even more curious! What to do?

Go to and poke around the Cosgrove family tree! Fairly quickly Eric Shanower and I found Linnie and Chester!

Linnie L. Brake was born in 1877. She was the sister of Rachel's mother, Martha P.  Brake, thus Rachel's true Aunt.  Linnie married Chester Malone Cunningham (1870-1965). I don't know if Uncle Chester ever got a chance to read Not for Glory. The book was sent to him in February of 1965 and he died that June at the age of 95.

Aunt Linnie had a good deal more time to read her niece's novel as she lived until 1977 when she died at age 100 - two month's shy of her 101st birthday.

Now perhaps this quest for information has been a bit of a detour away from the yellow brick road, but oddly I found it quite fascinating to be able to track down so much information on that brief moment in 1965 when a Royal Historian of Oz sent her latest book to a very elderly Aunt and Uncle she cared about. As Percy the white rat might say, "Neato, kid!"


Glenn Ingersoll said...

Fun with research!

I met my last surviving uncle -- Dad's brother Tom. He's 95. I dragged Kent up to Sacto for an Ingersoll Family Reunion where nearly all the people I met were unknown to me. There were people there I will talk to again.

David Maxine said...

A few years ago I got to meet a great uncle I'd never met before, and he too was in his early 90s. he was in great shape and took us out to dinner. Eric said afterward, "Now I know what you're gonna look like when you get old!" Luckily I could see it, too.

Sam said...

I'm so Glad you're back to Blogging, David!

And now that the second post I've got to read is about Oz Maps, I hope to see more of them soon!

Great to see you and Eric and all at OzCon 2015 and keep 'em Oz Blogs coming!