A Not Too Serious History
A teacher of English and English History at the Friends School in Baltimore, Letitia Stockett was inspired to write her whimsical history of the city when a friend told her that nothing much had been done in the way of a history of Baltimore since J. Thomas Scharf's The Chronicles of Baltimore (1874). Rising to the challenge, she spent all of her spare time on the book, telling curious friends and family merely that she "had work to do." Baltimore: A Not Too Serious History was the result, a charming and anecdotal account of the city's history that is as fresh today as it was when first published in 1928.
"Would you know Baltimore? Then put deliberately out of your mind the fact that the town makes more straw hats than any other city in the world. Aesthetically speaking, that is a fearsome thought. Forget, too, that Baltimore is the centre of the oyster packing industry. Worse, far worse than a straw hat is a packed oyster; Baltimoreans ought to know better. In truth they do; they export the tinned bivalve to the unsuspecting, unsophisticated Westerner. These two enterprises are worthy and profitable, but a knowledge of these facts will not help you understand this city any more truly than the study of those long lists of products once diligently conned in school gave you an inkling of Tunis, Singapore and Wilkes-Barre."—from Baltimore: A Not too Serious History
About the Authors
Letitia Stockett was born in Baltimore in 1884. She attended Eastern High School and graduated from Goucher College in 1904. She taught at the Friends School for thirty years, and is the author of The Hoofs of Pegasus, a collection of poems, as well as America, First, Fast, and Furious. She died in South Duxbury, Massachusetts in 1949.
With a light touch that skims over the years, barely touching here and there, [Stockett] views a variety of incidents and scenes that help to make history... In similar fashion she takes the reader to other places in the city, waves away present appearances and untangles the threads that have been woven about and through each one, and gradually carries the reader down through its story.
[There are many] quaint and picturesque and romantic spots which the discerning eye of Miss Stockett has discovered all about the town... [S]he has told me of a quantity of places I never knew before, and has discovered the beauty that lies in the heart of the familiar and the charm of tradition to be found underlying the modern commonplace.
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