One sibling became arguably the most celebrated 18th-century American intellectual.
By BRIAN BURNES
The Kansas City Star
The other sibling was Benjamin Franklins younger sister. No public schools in Boston then enrolled girls. She learned to read but received no formal instruction in spelling. She labored over her letters.
Jill Lepore chose to write a book about the sister.
In Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, Lepore wrings every drop of period detail from the comparatively few papers and artifacts that Jane Franklin left following her death in 1794 at age 82. With these Lepore throws light on the colonial world Jane navigated as she married at 15 and bore 12 children, writing their names in her hand-made Book of Ages as they arrived, married or as occurred several times died.
The sister emerges as heroic, determined to match her brothers restless curiosity and resolve.
One challenge for Lepore: making sure the brother did not overwhelm the sister.
The way I thought about it, since their father was a candlemaker, Ben is the candle and Jane is the dark room, Lepore said recently.
You can only see her when he is there. It is staggering to think that he wrote more letters to Jane than to anyone else.
Lepore speaks at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
On Monday, novelist and short story author Charles Baxter speaks in Kansas City as part of the long-running Writers at Work series.
I go through a first draft in the dark, like a blind person, trying to get the story done any way I can. The artistry comes in the revision, the cutting and adding.
You get ideas. You sort of daydream your way into these stories. You have that vision in front of you but the vision doesnt write itself automatically. Once or twice in my life, Ive had the great good luck of finding something that was almost fully formed, as if I was almost taking dictation.
But most of the time I am sweating bullets. We all are trying to find a kind of living emotion.
Baxter speaks at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Kansas City Public Librarys Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St. The Writers at Work series is organized by Kansas City novelist Whitney Terrell and co-sponsored by the Writers at Work Round Table, the Carolyn Benton Cockefair chair at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the universitys English department.
To RSVP for either event, call 816-701-3407.