Reasons Why I Study the Duke–#AtoZChallenge “R”

Welcome to “R” in the A to Z Challenge 2017. The 1st Duke of Wellington is my theme for this year’s Challenge.

From a comment on “E” day about Eton College, from fellow blogger and A to Z Challenge participant, Zulu Delta:

Hello Denise, I’m just catching up, and continuing to learn about the Duke. To be honest, as much as I enjoy you writing about the Duke, I am now more intrigued by your own interest in the Duke. I think it’s so interesting that there is a travel tour dedicated to him. What’s that like? What are the people on the tour like? What interest you more about the Duke than others in History. Is it a history thing, or a war thing, or a geography thing? I will leave out the other 20 million questions I have, so I can get to the rest of your letters, but please treat us with your thoughts. Zulu Delta

Thanks for asking, Zulu Delta. I decided to make a post of your question:

About seven or eight years ago, I decided to go to London on my own. My blogging friends were kind enough to let me guest post about the experience. Before this trip, I had discovered the last two Sharpe TV series shows on PBS. I couldn’t believe how great they were (starring Sean Bean) and how I knew nothing about them until then. I signed up for Netflix just to get to see ALL the Sharpe series shows via DVD and then I read ALL of the Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell in chronological order (not the order in which they were written). An impressive feat since I knew NOTHING about the Napoleonic and Peninsular Wars except that the Duke of Wellington (whomever he was) defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Since then I have done a few posts related to Sharpe (just do a search in the sidebar to the right).

In 2014, the bloggers of Number One London offered a trip related to the Duke of Wellington. I had followed their blog on my reader. I went on the tour and my interest in the Duke grew after going to see some places related to Wellington, namely Walmer Castle and Stratfield Saye (his country house). Apsley House was also on the tour (but I had gone there when I went on my own). The tour by these bloggers was a special event, not necessarily a regular tour. Now, one of the bloggers, Kristine Hughes Patrone, has begun her own tour company called Number One London Tours, and this year she has offered a number of varying tours to England and Scotland. Not only is Kristine interested in the Duke, but she is interested in all things British and all things Regency. Kristine is a published author and her enthusiasm and knowledge of British and Regency history is catching. She also has many author friends and beaucoup connections in England.

I consider myself a lifelong learner and the Duke of Wellington/Sharpe/British history obsession is one of my many current areas of interest (current meaning of the past few years). This is juxtaposed to my Ernest Hemingway obsession that still continues. Just do a search for good ol’ Ernie on my blog and you will get even more hits than the Duke. So, it’s not a war thing, it’s not a geography thing (but I am learning even more about geography from current British explorer Levison Wood and his books and TV series), it’s really a liberal arts/lifelong learning/appreciation of artists and writers thing.

The people on the Duke of Wellington tour were primarily women wanting to learn more about Regency England. Many were already great fans of Jane Austen, and most were avid readers/librarians/researchers/authors. I was definitely the odd duck. On the tour we also visited Brighton, Reading, and Windsor. We toured the Tower of London (my third time), Frogmore house in Windsor, a boat trip on the Thames in Eton/Windsor, and a few other unique day trips (Highclere Castle). And with PBS and Masterpiece and The Crown on Netflix, how can one not become obsessed with the royal family and England?

Thanks for wondering about my motivations. It’s all rather organic (both about Hemingway and the Duke) and I find that one interest about each leads to others that are connected and so on and so on. Blogs are also another way to learn and in doing so, I have made friends with others with the same interests. For example, Hemingway has led me to trips to Idaho, Florida, Arkansas, Michigan, Chicago, and Cuba, as well as to southern Spain and Paris. Next year I am going to the international Hemingway 2018 conference in Paris (but I have to say Paris and France were two of my first liberal arts obsessions and I have been to Paris many times) and will be stepping up my Hemingway reading again after I get back from a trip to London in June. I’m not tied down to staying at home due to family obligations, so why not learn more about what pique’s my interest? The bonus is getting away from the current political climate and learning about other places (and their political turmoil). I guess there might be some sort of underlying psychological reason I want to learn about these extraordinary men, but who really cares? 

Thank you, Zulu Delta. And I have to say I have enjoyed reading your blog this year from it’s beginning and following your thoughts on our world for the past 2 years! Fascinating reading!

Previous A to Z Challenge 2017 posts:

Apsley House



Douro, Marquess of

Eton College

Fraser, Hugh

Guedalla, Philip

Harriet Arbuthnot


Joseph Bonaparte

Maréchal Michel Ney

Netherlands (Flanders Campaign)

Older Duke and Death

Pakenham, Edward Michael “Ned”

Quotes of the Duke

  5 comments for “Reasons Why I Study the Duke–#AtoZChallenge “R”

  1. April 21, 2017 at 8:02 AM

    I love reading how other people developed their fascination with historical subjects. Great to hear your way in was through Sharpe. I LOVE SHARPE (and Sean Bean, obviously).

    • April 21, 2017 at 8:39 AM

      I would find it very difficult to not like Sharpe. All of the Sharpe stars and guest stars were/are fantastic! Thanks, J!!

  2. April 21, 2017 at 12:04 PM


    WOW!! First of all, thanks for the recognition on my blog. I appreciate it. Next, I’m not shocked at all in the coincidence that you and your blog appears in my blog as well; on the very same day and letter for the A-Z this year. My initial thought was to ask you to use one of your letters to explain your interest in Wellington. I didn’t do that because I’m always amused by my readers telling me what topic to use for a day’s letter. FYI, if you promise to write a blog for the letter P entitled “The Power Of Perfume,” my friend Gus would become your number one fan!

    Anyway, I have been anxiously awaiting your blog today. You did a great job. As I read your post, it all suddenly made sense. Initially, I was slightly perplexed by what I originally considered an “obscure subject.” Even as I type this email, I am thinking of more and more similar situations that may seem obscure to us as individuals, but turn out to be very popular to others. At this moment, Rangers for the National Park Service in the USA (if Trump hasn’t fired them yet), are all over the country explaining history, geology, literature, and science to people who are on tours ranging from The American Revolution to the Space Shuttle to D-Day Tours

    Let’s not stop there, how about art and architectural tours, music tours, and sports tours. Let’s not just stick to “The Real World…….” How about Di Vinci Code tours (which I made a self-tour in Paris), Tours of the town that is “Haven Maine” in Nova Scotia based on Stephen King novels, or the queen mother of all character interest; Comic-Con The list goes on and on, but I have to tell you, I’m drawing the line at Renaissance Fair workers and Civil War Re-enactors. ; ) I have not watched The Crown, but we are always a fan of Matt Smith (The Very Best Dr. Who).

    I hope you continue to travel and learn, and when you do, come back and write about it so we can “travel and learn as well!”

    Zulu Delta

    • April 21, 2017 at 12:42 PM

      Thanks, ZD45! Matt Smith is superb in The Crown!! Besides being the best Dr. ever. 😉 Good idea about the Da Vinci code–I had been to St. Sulphice and other places before it was cool! Florence would be a fun one for the last book. I will now go check out your post for today! Cheers and happy blogging, D

  3. hilarymb
    April 22, 2017 at 4:13 AM

    Hi Denise – that’s great you’re picking up so many ideas from fellow bloggers – while the posts and trips are satisfying your obvious love of learning, travel and more learning! Delighted – I’ll be back to read the posts once again anon – once we get to Z and May … happy travelling this week – cheers Hilary

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