Today is my first post as part of Click Street’s
I took part in the 2016 Blogival and the reason I’m back again this year is simply becuase it’s a wonderful way for the authors to interact with readers and It brings something a little extra to my blog.
There’s plenty more stops on the tour.. please do have a look. Word of mouth really helps not only the authors but us bloggers too.
I’ll be sharing some fellow bloggers posts via my twitter account so keep an eye out.
Now what do I have for you today you ask? Well I had the pleasure of reviewing Katharina Luther: Nun. Rebel. Wife last year and was itching to know more about the inspiration behind the tale. Author Anne Boileau has very kindly prepared a post for me to share with you…
But first here’s a bit more about the book –
On 31st October 1517, Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman.
But wait.. there’s more click here to read my review of Katharina Luther: Nun. Rebel. Wife!
Now you have that review fresh in your mind enjoy the guest post! 🙂
You ask me what was the inspiration behind the novel, Katharina Luther. Nun. Rebel. Wife. The answer to that is, I didn’t find Katharina, she found me; and she took me by surprise.
In 1992 I travelled to the former German Democratic Republic; it was barely three years after the Wall came down (the Germans call it die Wende, which means the change or turn around). I was researching for my dissertation on Land Management, Agriculture and Conservation in the New Lands of Germany following Unification; This was my conclusion of a BSc degree in Rural Resource Development at Writtle College and Anglia University in Essex. I already spoke fluent German and wanted to visit the former East Germany; Strutt and Parker awarded me a travel grant, so I went with my husband to Brandenburg and Saxony.
Such contrasts! We visited ancient monastic carp ponds at Nieski, dating back to the 12th Century, heaving with wildlife, and recently designated as a Biosphere Culture Landscape by UNESCO. Then we stood on the edge of an enormous open-cast coal mine, stretching into the horizon, a desert. We saw lakes polluted with slurry from industrial pig production units and huge dairy plants with literally thousands of miserable incarcerated cows.
But then there were the beautiful well-managed forests, abounding with wildlife, and the Spreewald with its water meadows, creeks and old thatched farmsteads.
The ancient towns were dilapidated but had not been ripped apart in the sixties and seventies for the needs of the motor car as happened in the west.
We visited Wittenberg where the Black Cloister was promoted as Martin Luther’s home. It was in that old monastic house that I first came across Katharina von Bora. There was a small exhibition all about her. Portraits by Cranach and other, later paintings; a pair of shoes and stockings, a ring given to her by King Christian of Denmark, a little book of Hours, even one of her dresses, and so on. We were both intrigued. It had never occurred to us that Martin Luther had been married, having assumed that as a monk he would have remained single and celibate. We were wrong!
Anyway, I went home, wrote my dissertation, got my degree and found a job. I watched my daughters grow up and leave home. But Katharina had sown a little seed in my heart and when I had more time I decided to find out more about her. I returned to Wittenberg, visited the other significant Luther towns: Eisenach and the Wartburg Castle; Erfurt where Luther was a student and then a monk; Torgau and Leipzig; I read a lot, in German, about those turbulent times and found a wealth of material about Katharina, who is a well-known figure in Germany, but virtually unknown in the UK.
That is why I decided to write her story for an English-speaking readership. I wanted to shine a light on the life of the woman behind the man who – whether you like him or loathe him – ushered in the modern world. He could never have followed through and achieved what he did without the help and support of a strong, well educated woman at his side – not only to run his household and give him a family to keep his mind in the real world, but also to kerb his irascibility and keep him healthy in body and mind.
Katharina von Bora, or Frau Doktor Luther, kept the show on the road. Not for nothing did he call her Herr Kathe.
About the author: Anne Boileau (also known as Polly Clarke) lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.