Your cheeky guide to the dynasty

Ready for Elizabeth — 1558


Much chatter here in the U.S. about showing that a woman can, indeed, rule.

That’s already been done, and has continued since. ;)

Coming Your Way in 2015!


Voilà! The first official promo for the second edition of my book, with expanded content and illustrations by Lisa Graves (aka, The History Witch), releasing in November. Stay tuned for updates!

(Meanwhile, don’t be shy: Make sure you’re getting all the latest and greatest from me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.)

I’m Barb, and I Support Cursive Handwriting Education


I shared the above photo I created on all my social media channels yesterday (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest), with the following caption:

“Learning cursive (joined-up writing or handwriting in the UK) is on the decline in the States, due to the implentation of the Common Core Standards in most states, as well as the erroneous belief that cursive writing is useless and antiquated in the modern world.

On the contrary: Research has shown that cursive writing improves brain development, hones fine motor skills, sharpens categorisation skills, and teaches the brain to integrate visual and tactile information.

Without cursive training, kids won’t be able to read historic documents (let alone communication from older relatives!), won’t be able to take notes efficiently, won’t even know the joy of enjoying a hand-written card. I teach my own kids cursive at home, and feel strongly that it should be implanted in the school curriculum once again.”

The feedback has been tremendous! I wanted to approach some concerns that came up, especially on the thread on my Facebook page and on pages where it has been shared, so here we go…

“Sure they can read historic documents…There are text versions.”

This is like saying “Why learn a foreign language when there’s Google Translate?”

“But many historic documents are in ancient languages and kids can’t read those either.”

Just because it’s not Magna Carta or the Codes of Ur Nammu doesn’t mean it’s not a historic document. For example, last weekend our family visited Culpeper, Virginia, which holds quite a bit of US Civil War era history. In the town’s museum, our 12-year-old daughter was able to read a 19th-century letter from a soldier to one of his relatives, describing the conditions in the area and events happening at the time.

“Why should I trust you when you say A historic document instead of AN historic document?”

I’m American. We pronounce the h. Jeez.

“Reading historic documents just isn’t that important for most kids/people.”

That’s why I mentioned not being able to read communication from people who do write in cursive, not to mention the many other educational benefits listed in the original caption (above).

“It has nothing to do with Common Core.”

To restate the first paragraph of the original caption, “”Learning cursive (joined-up writing or handwriting in the UK) is on the decline in the States, due to the implentation of the Common Core Standards in most states, as well as the erroneous belief that cursive writing is useless and antiquated in the modern world.” While cursive writing may have been pushed aside in some places before Common Core came about (and yes, CC does not mention cursive at all: that’s precisely why it’s not considered a part of the CC curriculum), at least eight CC states to date have made cursive mandatory in schools, including California, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

And please don’t blame teachers for a lack of cursive writing in the classroom — administrative decisions and those on a national level keep teachers’ hands tied. Go higher up the ladder!

“You’ve misspelled ‘handwriting;’ there’s no ‘u’ in it.”

Oh my goodness, enough of this. The flow between my w and r may render the distinction fuzzy. However, rest assured that I know how to spell it and that the w is the letter that’s there.


*There are some fantastic articles to be found, making the case for cursive. Check out the following articles:

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades – The New York Times

5 Reasons Cursive Writing Should Be Taught in School – Concordia Online

Brain Research and Cursive Writing – David Sortino

* While, as an educator, I much prefer manipulatives to digital educational enhancements, I don’t mind sharing these apps which can add to a child’s learning of cursive writing: Cursive Writing Wizard by L’escapadou, Intro to Cursive by Montessorium, Cursive Writing by Horizon Business Inc, and Zaner-Bloser Handwriting by Zaner-Bloser Inc.

* To see wonderful examples of Tudor signatures, please see this board on my Pinterest page.

What a Tease…


Just look at this luscious assortment of illustrations by Lisa Graves / History Witch for the upcoming 2nd edition of The Tudor Tutor (book)!

(Expected publication date is Fall 2015, by Skyhorse Publishing)

Observations from a Day that Would Become “History”


While I prefer to write about what happened 500 years ago, I took the sad opportunity 13 years ago to write about what was happening the day the U.S. was the target of a horrific terrorist attack (I’m American, if you hadn’t already known).

This is a glimpse at my journal entry from the 11th of September, 2001.

Exciting News!

I’m happy to announce that a **2nd edition** of my book will be released by Skyhorse Publishing in the fall of 2015!

It will feature expanded content, as well as lots of brilliant illustrations by Lisa Graves.

Stay tuned!

You’d Think They’d at Least Have a Sign

It's that teeny square just to the right of the arrow head.

It’s that teeny square just to the right of the arrow head.

Have you found yourself on Tower Hill, looking round for the spot where Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, the Seymour brothers, and [too] many others were executed? And wondering why you couldn’t find the darn spot? You aren’t alone. When we talk about the Tower Hill executions, many people mention that they haven’t been able to locate this oft-discussed area, although Tower Hill itself is not terribly large.

Last summer, my husband and I returned to London* and stayed right on Tower Hill (at the Doubletree by Hilton, which I highly recommend, by the way). We’d already been there for several days, walking across the Hill and back again to get to and from the Underground and Tower Bridge (which we’d cross to get to the awesome restaurants in Bermondsey, such as Casse Croute, Pizarro, and José ) when I noticed a little square on the ground, lined in antiqued-green plaques.


That was when it hit me: THIS was the spot!

So I created my Tower Hill Execution Spot location guide. Now you, too, can find this famous (though grisly) historical place. Happy hunting!

* Want to read about our day at Hampton Court Palace? Click here!


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