The Real Historical Characters of

Exquisite Folly


The following are capsule biographies of historical individuals named in Exquisite Folly. Four of them—John Tabor Kempe, Marinus Willett, John Lamb, and Isaac Sears—have direct effect on the action and consequently suffer the unpardonable indignity of having the author’s words put in their mouths—without permission!

All other characters directly active in the novel are entirely fictional inventions.

The names of those historical individuals who were living as the story begins in September 1765 are emphasized in red.


Carl Friedrich Abel (1723–1787)

·       German composer, especially for the viola da gamba.

·       Lived in London from 1759, and became chamber-musician to Queen Charlotte, in 1764.

·       With his friend J. C. Bach, England’s first subscription concerts, which continued nearly twenty years.


General James Abercromby (1706–1781)


·       An experienced, if not distinguished officer, Abercromby’s appointment in March 1758 as British commander-in-chief was widely celebrated ... because it implied the dismissal of his intensely-loathed predecessor, Lord Loudoun.  However, Abercromby’s reputation never recovered from the debacle at Ticonderoga, and he was in turn dismissed the following year. 


Tomaso Albinoni (1671–1751)


·       An Italian Baroque composer, famous in his day as an opera composer, mainly remembered today for his instrumental music. His concertos are regularly recorded.


Avicenna (980–1037 AD)


·       His Persian name was Latinized from Ibn-Sina.

·       A polymath regarded as one of the most significant thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age.

·       Of the 450 works he is known to have written, around 240 have survived, including 150 on philosophy and 40 on medicine.


John Christian Bach (1735–1782)


·       He was the eleventh child and youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach.

·       After five years in Italy, Bach moved to London in 1762, where he enjoyed much success … for many years. His popularity declined in his last years, however, and he died in considerable debt.

Bach Johann_Christian by_Thomas_Gainsborough.jpg

Colonel Isaac Barré (1726–1802)


·       An Irish soldier and politician.

·       He earned distinction serving with the British army in North America during the Seven Years’ War, and later became a prominent Member of Parliament where he became a vocal supporter of William Pitt the Elder.

·       He is renowned for coining the term “Sons of Liberty” in reference to American Whigs opposed to the British government’s policies.

·       Wilkes-Barre, PA, is named in his honor (and that of John Wilkes).


Augustus Caesar (63 BC–14 AD)


·       Named Gaius Octavius at birth, Augustus renamed himself when he learned that Julius Caesar had named him his adoptive son and heir. The honorific title Augustus was actually bestowed on him by the Senate, in 27 BC, the traditional date of the beginning of the Roman Empire.

Augustus Octavian Statue.JPG

Julius Caesar (100–44 BC)


·       General, politician, and author who became Rome’s “dictator for life” … one month before his assassination.

Julius Caesar.jpg

Calpurnia Pisonis (75 BC–??)


·       Third wife of Julius Caesar—she who “must be above suspicion.”


King Louis XV (1710–1774)


·       Louis XV inherited the throne of France from his great-grandfather at the age of five. One of Number XIV’s most famous aphorisms was, “Après moi, le déluge!” and Louis spent his entire life struggling to deal with it.

·       When they learned (in 1760) that New France was “history,” Louis XV’s friend Voltaire attempted to console him by observing, “After all, Sire, what have we lost—a few acres of snow?” 


Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616)


·       His magnum opus, Don Quixote, considered to be the first modern European novel, and is regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written.

·       His influence on the Spanish language has been so great that it is often called la lengua de Cervantes (the language of Cervantes).


Thomas Chippendale (1718–1779)


·       A London cabinet-maker and furniture designer in the mid-Georgian, English Rococo, and Neoclassical styles.

·       In 1754 he published a book of his designs, titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Makers Director.

·       Chippendales popular designs led to widespread adoption of his name in revivals of his style—many of which bear little relationship to his original concepts.

Chippendale xGainsborough.jpg

Acting Lt. Gov. Cadwallader Colden (1688–1776)


·       A Scot, educated at Edinburgh University, Colden emigrated to America in 1715.

·       He made major contributions to the studies of public health, Native American ethnography, and botany.

·       On four occasions, he became the acting Lieutenant-Governor of New York province, owing to the deaths or resignations of the officially-appointed governors. Though he perennially coveted official recognition, it was never granted.

·       Largely due to his combative and reactionary disposition, he became intensely despised by virtually all factions of New York’s society—especially during the Stamp Act crisis of 1765. 

·       Colden retired to his home in Flushing, New York, and died there in the calamitous month of September 1776.


Stephen DeLancey (1663–1741)


·       Born in Caen, France, a scion of a family of minor nobility that had turned Huguenot, DeLancey emigrated to New York in 1686, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (which granted toleration to Protestants) the previous year.

·       Using the family inheritance he had smuggled out of France in the form of jewels sewn in his coat, he became one of New York’s most successful merchants. He also sponsored privateering ships in Queen Anne’s War that brought in a further fortune.

·       He married heiress Anne van Cortlandt in 1700; they had ten children, of which five—James, Peter, Oliver, Susannah, and Anne—survived infancy to become extremely prominent in New York’s life … until most of them became Tories after Independence.

DeLancey Stephen.jpg

Lt. Gov. James DeLancey (1703–1760)


·       Educated in England, James DeLancey was active in New York politics from 1729. When he died in office, he was not only Lieutenant-Governor, but the provinces chief justice—a combination that infuriated his Whig adversaries.

·       He built a great estate at the foot of Bowery Lane; Manhattan’s mile-long boulevard, Delancey Street, is its remnant.

delancey james sr.jpg

James DeLancey, Jr. (1732–1800)


·       Educated in England, James (Jr.) became a commissioned officer in the British Army and returned to New York in 1755. He served as aide-de-camp to General James Abercrombie during the French and Indian War (with, among others, Marinus Willett and the fictional Thomas Dordrecht).

·       On his fathers death in 1760, he resigned his army commission to direct the familys lucrative dry goods business.

·       Though he lost a bid for elective office in 1761, DeLancey remained the head of the mercantilist-imperialist faction associated with the DeLancey name. He regained prominence in 1768 by compromising—at least publicly—with the Sons of Liberty. His hypocrisy was revealed in 1775 when, after quietly selling some of his properties, he abruptly left New York for Britain, never to return.

·       It is uncertain whether this portrait is James Jr. or his son, the third of that name.

delancey james jr.jpg

Guy Fawkes (1570–1606)


·       One of thirteen Roman Catholic conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot who attempted to assassinate King James I and blow up the House of Lords during the annual opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605.

·       For centuries excoriated for treason, the butt of annual celebrations of the plot’s failure, Fawkes has more recently been refurbished as an avatar of anti-fascist anarchism, and occasionally celebrated as “the only man who ever entered Parliament with honest intentions.”

Guy Fawkes detail.jpg

Henry Fielding (1707–1754)


·       English novelist and dramatist known for his earthy humor and satirical prowess—especially as the author of Tom Jones.

·       He also holds a significant place in the history of law enforcement, having founded (with his half-brother John Fielding) what some have called Londons first police force, the Bow Street Runners, using his authority as a magistrate.


Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)


·       Compiler and publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanac (1732-58).

·       Although Franklin had many achievements to his name by the time of Exquisite Folly, Thomas Dordrecht would have known him for the same feats for which the entire world then esteemed him, his demonstration that lightning and electricity were one and the same, and his creation of the lightning rod.

·       Franklin initially made a costly political error by recommending a friend for the post of stamp distributor for Pennsylvania; however, he “redeemed himself” with his Parliamentary testimony favoring repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766.


General Thomas Gage (1719–1787)


·       British general best known for his service in North America. He participated in the French and Indian War, Pontiac’s Rebellion, and the early months of the American Revolution. He was military commander-in-chief of North America from 1763 to 1775.

·       In 1774 he was also made the Royal Governor of Massachusetts, and given the responsibility of enforcing the Intolerable Acts.

·       It is often speculated that his wife, New Jersey-born Margaret Kemble Gage (a cousin of the DeLancey family), was a Patriot spy.


Galen (129–216 AD)


·       Galen of Pergamon was a prominent Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman empire. Arguably the most accomplished of all ancient medical researchers, Galen influenced the development of various scientific disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and neurology, as well as philosophy and logic.


David Garrick (1717–1779)


·       English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer who influenced nearly all aspects of theatrical practice throughout the 18th century and was a pupil and friend of Dr Samuel Johnson.

·       Celebrated as an actor, Garrick managed the famous Drury Lane Theatre for twenty-nine years.


George Grenville (1712–1770)


·       Whig Prime Minister of Britain (16 April 1763 – 13 July 1765), his chief problem was was to restore the nations finances in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War.

·       However, his first act as Prime Minister was to prosecute John Wilkes for publishing an article deriding King George III.

·       Grenville carefully crafted the Stamp Act, which he conceived as a reform—a reform of the relationship of Britain and its colonies as they had existed during the era of Salutary Neglect—and truly believed it would meet universal approbation.

·       He was dismissed by George III, not because the colonists were distraught by the Stamp Tax, but due to intense personal animosity.


George Frederic Handel (1685–1759)


·       The German-born composer lived the bulk of his adult life in England. His most famous works are the oratorio Messiah; the Water Music; and Music for the Royal Fireworks. At the time of his death his popularity and reputation far eclipsed that of his contemporary Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).


King George I (1660–1727)


·       He became the King of Great Britain on the death of Queen Anne in 1714.

·       Over fifty European aristocrats had closer blood ties to the English monarchy, but the Act of Settlement of 1701 prohibited all of them (as Catholics) from inheriting the British throne.

·       George’s relative indifference to most matters of state allowed the legislature to gain authority at the expense of the Crown, and also abetted American independence of day-to-day British meddling.


King George II (1683–1760)


·       The last British monarch ever to lead his men into an actual battle (in 1744), George II did tend to favor military solutions.  However, the Seven Years’ War got completely out of his—or anyone else’s—control. 


King George III (1738-1820)

·       The first of the Hanover dynasty to have been born in England, George III was determined at his accession to be a model monarch. He was actually eager to end the ruinous Seven Years’ War but, so far from succeeding, was out-foxed by the imperialist William Pitt and talked into an additional war with Spain.

·       Americans of 1765 regarded the king very highly, and insisted that his support of the Stamp Act was entirely due to suffering bad—or even “wicked”—advisors.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Full-length portrait in oils of a clean-shaven young man in eighteenth century dress: gold jacket and breeches, ermine cloak, powdered wig, white stockings, and buckled shoes.

Patrick Henry (1736–1799)

·       Nine days after being sworn in as a freshman member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry shook all America out of the stunned silence that had confronted passage of the Stamp Act, by presenting seven resolutions against it. Of the seven, five were passed, but the most radical of them was rescinded the following day. However, the text of all of them was widely reported about the continent.

·       Debates in the House were not recorded at that time. Thus, it is not known for certain that Patrick Henry ever said, Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the Third ... may he profit by their example! If this be treason, make the most of it!”

·       It was during debate over declaring independence, ten years later, that he may have said, Give me liberty or give me death!”

·       Patrick Henry twice served as Governor of the state of Virginia; an anti-federalist,” he opposed ratification of the Constitution; after its acceptance, he fought for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights.


Hesiod (fl. 7th Cent. BC)


·       An ancient ancient Greek poet, possibly a contemporary of Homer, Hesiod is a primary source of our understanding of Greek religion.

·       According to Wikipedia, Modern scholars refer to him as a major source on Greek mythology, farming techniques, early economic thought (he is sometimes identified as the first economist), archaic Greek astronomy and ancient time-keeping.”

·       This ancient bust, once thought to be of Seneca, is now conjectured to be Hesiod.


Hippocrates (ca. 460–370 BC)


·       The “father of western medicine.” The Hippocratic School established medicine as a discipline distinct from other fields that it had traditionally been associated with theurgy and philosophy, thus establishing medicine as a profession.

·       Very little is known about what Hippocrates actually thought, wrote, and did.

·       Hippocrates is commonly portrayed as the paragon of the ancient physician, credited with coining the Hippocratic Oath.


Zachariah Hood


·       In 1765 Hood was on business in England, where he was offered (and accepted) the job of stamp collector for Maryland.

·       On his return, he was met by a furious mob in Annapolis, and dissuaded from landing. After a mob burned his warehouse, Hood fled to Fort George, in New York City, not having repudiated his appointment.

·       On November 26, 1765, the New York Sons of Liberty, having located him in Flushing, Queens County, intimidated him into explicitly repudiating his appointment. He never returned to Maryland.

[No portrait available]

Governor Thomas Hutchinson (1711–1780)


·       Massachusetts-born Hutchinson was a businessman, historian, and a prominent Loyalist politician who served as lieutenant governor and then governor from 1758 to 1774.

·       Despite his personal opposition to Parliamentary tax laws, his unwavering loyalty to the imperial structure caused him to be identified as a proponent of them.

·       Hutchinsons Boston mansion was ransacked on August 26, 1765, during protests against the Stamp Act.

·       His hard-line response to continuing protests rendered him ineffectual, and he was replaced as Massachusetts governor by Gage in 1774. He then began his exile to England, never to return.


Jared Ingersoll, Sr. (1722-1781)


·       In London in 1765, this Connecticut native accepted the very bad advice of Benjamin Franklin, to accept the commission of stamp agent for Connecticut.

·       On his return to New Haven, his house was surrounded by people demanding that he resign the commission. He protested that he didnt believe he had the power to resign,” because the King had appointed him.  Fleeing to the state capital in Hartford, he was again surrounded on September 15, 1765, by 500 men on horseback, who escorted him into the town, forced him to sign a resignation—“The cause is not worth dying for,” he realized—and made to shout Liberty and property!” three times.

·       Though he was a loyalist, he remained in Connecticut until his demise during the Revolutionary War. His son, Jared Ingersoll, Jr., a patriot, became a public functionary in Pennsylvania.

[No portrait available]

Major Thomas James


·       The commander of artillery in Fort George, New York City, in 1765, James had made himself publicly obnoxious by vowing “to cram the stamps down their throats with the point of my sword!” 

·       Nonetheless, he was the individual who, when the fort was approached by protestors on November 1, 1765, did not fire grapeshot onto the mob, despite provocation from both sides urging him to do so.

·       Ironically, this restraint did not prevent the mob from demolishing a house he had just refurbished later that evening.

·       In a later Parliamentary investigation in London, hard-liners demanded an explanation for his restraint. He replied that, had he fired, he could have massacred nine hundred New Yorkers; but he would then have anticipated that fifty thousand militia from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut would have attacked the fort in earnest the following day, and left not a man alive.

[No portrait available]

Sir William Johnson (1715–1774)


·       Born in Ireland, Johnson emigrated to New Yorks Mohawk River valley at the age of 23, to work on his uncles estates. He had numerous dealings with the Native Americans, particularly as he acquired lands in his own right.

·       Although Johnson had little military experience, he was commissioned as a major general of colonial militia, in which capacity he halted a French advance in the Battle of Lake George (September 8, 1755). In a year of major setbacks for the British, this was enough to merit Johnson a knighthood.

·       In January 1756, the British government made Johnson sole Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the northern colonies, a position he held for most of the rest of his life. His chief projects were to persuade the Natives to support British war efforts and to accommodate white settlers land needs.

·       He was one of the very largest landholders in North America at his death.


Catharine Kempe


·       One of four daughters of William Kempe, the Whitehall-appointed Attorney-General of New York province (d. 1759). 

·       Nothing is known of any of them save their names (Catharine, Elizabeth, Jane, and Philadelphia), and that none of them ever married. They remained dependent on their brother, and returned to England with him in 1782.

·       There was also a half-sister and a half-brother, William, who was a ne’er-do-well also mooching off John Tabor Kempe.

[No portrait available]

John Tabor Kempe (1735-1792)

·       Kempe was appointed New York’s attorney general at the age of twenty-four, when his father vacated that office by expiring.

·       As the last royal Attorney-General of the province of New York (1759-1782), he relentlessly prosecuted merchants who traded with the enemy.

·       Though no outcry of corruption was ever raised against him, he rose from being destitute to being one of the richest men in the province in the seventeen years preceding the Revolution—most likely by being privy to everyone’s real estate speculations and taking sensible advantage of the information.

·       Kempe was a loyalist who stayed in New York City during the occupation, sought and gained (partial) reparations from the Crown for his confiscated American properties, and died in England.

·       On February 20, 1766, he married Grace Coxe, a New Jersey heiress. They had five children.

[No portrait available]

Captain Archibald Kennedy, Jr.


·       The son of New York’s Crown customs agent, Kennedy became one of few American-born officers in the Royal Navy.

·       As commander of HMS Coventry, he became the chief of station for his native port of New York. His duty was to enforce the draconian mercantilist regulations and trading-with-the-enemy prohibitions that his fellow New Yorkers were regularly flouting.

·       As a result of his accosting and impounding disobedient merchantment—“prize money” was the civil asset forfeiture of the day—Kennedy built a handsome mansion on Bowling Green, the best address in the City.

[No portrait available]

Captain William Kidd (1645–1701)


·       A Scottish sailor who was tried and executed for piracy.

·       Some modern historians deem his piratical reputation unjust, as there is evidence that Kidd acted only as a privateer—that is, a legal pirate.

Kidd--Captain William.jpg

Etienne de La Boétie (1530–1563)


·       French judge, writer, and political philosopher. His best-remembered essay, the Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, was circulated privately and not published until 1576, after La Boéties death. He was the first to advocate civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to tyranny.


John Lamb (1735–1800)


·       Initially trained as an optician and instrument maker in his native New York City, Lamb became a prosperous wine merchant.

·       A leading member of the Sons of Liberty, he wrote articles in the newspapers and published anonymous handbills.

·       Active in the US Army throughout the Revolutionary War, Lamb headed the 2nd Continental Artillery Regiment. He was breveted a brigadier general in 1783.


Jacob Leisler (1640–1691)


·       German born American colonist who helped create the Huguenot settlement of New Rochelle, NY, in 1688, and later served as the acting Lieutenant Governor of New York.

·       When the Glorious Revolution of 1688 occurred in England, factions in New York province split for it or against it along political lines that had little to do with the divisions there. Leisler, regarded in retrospect as a “populist,” supported William & Mary’s accession against the “Jacobite” conservatives who wished to maintain the existing status quo. He led an armed group that took over Fort James, the military structure that preceded Fort George at Bowling Green.

·       When the new royal governor, appointed by the joint monarchs, finally arrived in 1691, Leisler’s enemies arranged for him to be condemned for treason and executed, notwithstanding that he was a supporter of the new regime.


Pietro Locatelli (1695–1764)


·       Italian-born Baroque composer and violinist who spent most of his adult life in Amsterdam.

·       He is best known for his many string concertos and chamber works.


Andrew Marvell (1621–1678)


·       An English metaphysical poet and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1659 and 1678.

·       In addition to poetry, he wrote anonymous prose satires criticizing the monarchy and Catholicism, defending Puritan dissenters, and denouncing censorship.


James McEvers


·       James McEvers quietly resigned his stamp distributorship in New York on August 26, 1765, after the first riot in Boston.

·       On December 2, the Sons of Liberty, unsatisfied, forced him to make a public repudiation.

[No portrait available]

Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592)


·       One of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre.

·       A Roman Catholic, he urged toleration for Protestants during the French wars of religion.


Sir Henry Moore (1713–1769)


·       Jamaica-born Moore garnered a baronetcy by suppressing a slave revolt there during his term as governor (1759-62).

·       Arriving in New York City on November 13, 1765, he calmed the Stamp Act crisis there by consulting with all factions—including Isaac Sears of the Sons of Liberty—and deciding against immediate, rigorous enforcement.

·       Despite calling on the military to suppress agrarian protests over the next years, Moore remained generally respected in the City when he died in office in September 1769.

Moore Sir Henry.jpg

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)


·       During Mozarts youth, his family made several European journeys in which he and his sister Nannerl performed as child prodigies.

·       A long concert tour spanning three and a half years began in 1762, taking the family to the courts of Munich, Mannheim, Paris, London (1764-65), The Hague, again to Paris, and back home via Zurich, Donaueschingen, and Munich.

·       In addition to private performances before royalty, the Mozarts sometimes performed in public houses.

Mozart as a boy.jpeg

Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706)


·       German composer, organist and teacher who brought the south German organ tradition to its peak.”

·       He composed a large body of sacred and secular music, and his contributions to the development of the chorale prelude and fugue earned him a place among the most important composers of the middle Baroque era.


Pontiac (1720–1769)


·       Ottawa war chief who became noted for his role in Pontiac’s War (1763–1766), a Native American struggle against British military occupation of the Great Lakes region—a consequence of the French and Indian War.

·       Pontiac’s importance in the war that bears his name has been debated. Historians today generally view him as an important local leader who influenced a wider movement that he did not command.

·       No authentic images of Pontiac are known to exist. This interpretation was painted in the mid-nineteenth century.


Henry Purcell (1659–1695)


·       English composer. Although he incorporated Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, Purcell’s legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music.


Jean Phillippe Rameau (1683–1764)


·       French composer and music theorist of the Baroque era. His musical works include cantatas; motets for large chorus; some pieces for harpsichord; and works for the stage—to which he dedicated the last thirty years of his career almost exclusively.

·       He was almost 50 before he embarked on the operatic career on which his reputation chiefly rests today.


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)


·       Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th century.

·       His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought.


Isaac Sears (1730–1786)


·       Massachusetts-born Sears was a merchant, sailor, Freemason, and New York City political figure.  He played an important role in the American Revolution and the decade leading up to it.

·       His leadership was often heavy-handed, as when he led a mob that destroyed James Rivington’s printing press.

·       His personal fortune waxed and waned. After the war, in great debt, he shipped out as a supercargo to China, where he died of illness in Canton.

[No portrait available]

Sejanus (20 BC–31 AD)


·       Though not a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Sejanus used his position as prefect of the Praetorian Guard (the brutal Roman secret police) to consolidate power. Once the emperor Tiberius retired to Capri, Sejanus became emperor in all but name … until his extremely abrupt fall.


Queen Anne (1665–1714)


·       The younger daughter of the deposed James II, Anne, like her elder sister Mary II, was raised a Protestant, per the orders of her uncle, Charles II.

·       Despite seventeen pregnancies by her husband, Prince George of Denmark, she died without any surviving children and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart.

·       Her reign was dominated by the expensive War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). The North American colonies of Britain and France were drawn into the conflict, known to them as Queen Anne’s War.


Pieter Stuyvesant (1612–1672)


·       Born the son of a minister in the Netherlands, Stuyvesant became a military governor of the Dutch West India Companys colony of Curaçao from 1642 to 1644.

·       In that capacity, he conducted a failed invasion of the French colony of St. Martin, in which a cannonball demolished his right leg.

·       Appointed by the Company to succeed the disastrous Willem Kieft as director of New Netherland, in 1647, Stuyvesant attempted to rule dictatorially, but was often foiled by the fractious inhabitants.

·       Forced to surrender the colony to the British in 1664, he stayed on in New York until his death.


Edward “Blackbeard” Teach (1680–1718)


·       A notorious English pirate who briefly operated around the West Indies and the southeastern coast of the American colonies.

·       Possibly a sailor on privateer ships during Queen Annes War, he captured a French merchant vessel and renamed her the Queen Annes Revenge.

·       Contrary to the modern pirate stereotype, he spurned the use of force, relied on his fearsome image to cow those he robbed, and commanded his vessels with the permission of their crews. There is no known account of his ever having harmed or murdered those he held captive.


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767)


·       German Baroque composer and instrumentalist.

·       Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family’s wishes.

·       One of history’s most prolific composers (in terms of surviving oeuvre), he was compared favorably to his contemporaries Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederick Handel.


Catharine Trotter (1674–1749)


·       A novelist, dramatist, and philosopher, Trotter was raised Protestant but converted to Roman Catholicism at an early age, then converted back in 1707.

·       A precocious, physically attractive, and largely self-educated young woman, she had her first novel published anonymously when she was 14; her first play was staged two years later.

·       At the age of 23, Trotter published her first major philosophical work, in which she defended John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Locke was so pleased, he made gifts of money and books to his young apologist.

·       Despite her one-time renown, Trotter’s reputation waned steadily over time, and has only been rescued from obscurity by recent feminist critics.

Trotter Catharine.jpg

Anne Van Cortlandt


·       The daughter of Stephanus van Cortlandt, the first native-born mayor of New York City, she was a well-to-do “catch” when she married Stephen DeLancey in 1700.

·       Related through her parents and grandparents to New York’s aristocratic Van Renssalaer, Philipse, Schuyler, and Livingston families, she and her spouse generated their own impressive dynasty through their five surviving children:  James, Peter, Oliver, Susannah, and Anne.

Van Cortlandt Anne.jpg

François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778)

·       The quintessential man of the Enlightenment, Voltaire was a French writer who authored more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets.

·       He was a major inspiration to the founders of the American republic.

·       Thomas Dordrecht, our fictional hero, considers Candide to be his favorite work of literature, and identifies closely with its title character.

Description: Description: Description: Description:

John Wilkes (1725-1797)

·       An English journalist and politician, Wilkes became a Member of Parliament for Middlesex in 1757, and was immediately branded a radical. He was also known as a wit, a roué, and paradoxically, “the ugliest man in England.”

·       It was actually in 1763 that his fame as a radical became widespread, a consequence of his having openly criticized the king in the famous issue number 45 of his North Briton periodical.

·       Wilkes supported Pitt and the Seven Years’ War. An aspect of his criticism of the king and Prime Minister Bute was their willingness to grant France relatively easy peace terms.

·       Wilkes turned conservative as he aged and consequently lost popularity with his constituents. He notoriously ordered troops to fire at protestors during the Gordon Riots of 1780.

Description: Description: Description: Description:

Marinus Willett (1740–1830)


·       In 1765, Queens County-born Willett was raising a family in New York City (that is, Manhattan), and working as an upholsterer.

·       Willett became a national hero for his tenacious defense of the Mohawk Valley during the last five years of the Revolutionary War.

·       An anti-federalist and a Jeffersonian, Willett was briefly, in 180708, the mayor of New York City! Buried in Trinity Church graveyard, his funeral attracted 10,000 mourners.

·       Please see special observations about Willett—the Thomas Dordrecht series’ most manipulated historical character—in “The Fudge Factor.”



Mythological Characters referenced in Exquisite Folly:

·      Artemis—Greek goddess of the moon and the hunt (Roman: Diana)

·      Atalanta—Legendary mortal lass who could outrun any man

·      Eutherus—Minor Greek deity, god of sunshine, father of Helios

·      Fortunatus—Fictional hero of an anonymously-authored late medieval morality tale

·      Helios—Greek god of the sun—an alternate name of Phoebus Apollo

·      Hero—(Hero was the girl.) Ancient Greek lass who committed suicide on learning of her (illicit) lover’s death

·      Leander—(Leander was the boy.) Ancient Greek lad who tried and failed to swim the Hellespont for love

·      Mercury—Roman god of commerce and communication (Greek: Hermes)

·      Minerva—Roman goddess of wisdom (Greek: Athena)

·      Pheidippides—Quasi-mythological Greek sprinter who reported the victory at Marathon (490 BC)





Description: Description: Description: Description: Home