YouTube standout Kate Howe will discuss via Zoom “The Heroic Slave,” a piece of fiction written in 1852 by Frederick Douglass, on Sunday, Aug. 16, 1:30 p.m. The Victorian Ebenezer Maxwell …
by Len Lear
I learned about local resident Kate Howe by watching her YouTube videos in which she discusses her opinions about books and movies. Kate, 32, a native of Mississippi who moved to the Keystone State with her family when she was 17, is an absolutely voracious reader and an expert in Victorian literature.
On Sunday, Aug. 16, 1:30 p.m., the mother of two will discuss via Zoom “The Heroic Slave,” a piece of fiction written in 1852 by Frederick Douglass, who at the time was a fugitive slave living in Boston. (The presentation is sponsored by Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in Germantown.) This fictional work was inspired by a real incident. Madison Washington, an enslaved cook on the brig Creole, led a rebellion on the ship by 19 slaves in November, 1841. It was one of the most successful slave rebellions in U.S. history. We interviewed Kate last week:
•What is your educational background?
“I attended Geneva College in western Pennsylvania, where I met my husband, David. We got married in 2011. I got my Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and Special Education and graduated in 2012. My husband is finishing his Ph.D at Drexel in Polymer Chemistry this month.
•Who are your favorite authors?
“Elizabeth Gaskell is my favorite Victorian author, and those who enjoy Jane Austen are likely to enjoy Gaskell's works. I like how she weaves an intricate plot in with characters who feel so flesh and blood while discussing social issues in a dynamic way. George Eliot is my second favorite Victorian author for many of the same reasons I enjoy Elizabeth Gaskell. Her books can be challenging to read, but they have such staying power and a way of haunting you.
“Elizabeth George is a contemporary mystery author. What is so spectacular about her books is that they are more like novels that just happen to have mysteries in them. She is so skilled at involving many storylines and connecting them slowly throughout the course of the novel.
“Maud Hart Lovelace is a children's author who wrote the Betsy Tacy series. They are incredibly charming books. And I love how swept away I am by Susanna Kearsley's books and that we get two storylines following two different characters in different eras.”
•How did you get started making videos about books and movies?
“I started making booktube videos in 2015 after watching booktube for about a year. I found myself falling in love with reading all over again and discovering new authors through booktube. I wanted a platform to discuss the books I was reading, and making booktube videos was very easy from the comfort of my own home.”
•What motivated you to give this particular Zoom presentation?
“'The Heroic Slave' is such an important work of literature written by someone with first-hand experience of living in a world where the deck is stacked against him. In the lead character of Madison Washington, we see the resilience that Frederick Douglass lived in his own life … It has been a wonderful experience discussing these works with other readers and seeing how classic literature is timeless. Italo Calvino said, 'A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.'"
•If you could live anywhere on earth, where would you choose to live?
“It would be on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. I have never even visited it, but all of the pictures I have seen of it make it seem like it has this otherworldly beauty.”
•What is the hardest thing you have ever done, and what is your most impressive characteristic?
“The hardest thing I've ever done and my most impressive characteristic go hand in hand. After having my second son, I developed Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). It's an autonomic disorder and affects people in different ways, but it gives me intense fatigue, nausea and trouble standing up for sustained amounts of time. It has been incredibly hard caring for two boys, and we've had to totally change our lifestyle because of it. I think, though, that I have developed resilience because of this. I have no choice but to get out of bed every day and take care of my boys and carry on. It's hard, but it makes me very grateful for days when I do have good energy.”
Reservations are required for the Zoom presentation at ebenezermaxwellmansion.org/literary-parlor