The Travelling Philanthropist – the Gregorian Calendar

The curious tale of some missing days and a man with an umbrella…

It was while completing my PGCE that I was asked to research a topic that drew together my two teaching subjects, Religious Education and Mathematics. (A weird combo I know)

I chose to focus on calendars and became fascinated with the shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar which resulted in some missing days.

I spent the next twenty-three years teaching but when I left to focus on my creative writing, found myself broodling on that calendar shift once more.  

Research of the period led me to discover Jonas Hanway, Esq. – philanthropist and alleged trailblazer of the umbrella. For more information read ‘Remarkable Occurrences In The Life Of Jonas Hanway: Comprising An Abstract Of His Travels In Russia And Persia’ by John Pugh, 1798. (His adventures might rival any work of fiction).

Jonas Hanway became the inspiration for my fictional character, Janus Gregory. His philanthropic work at the Foundling Hospital became the backdrop for The Travelling Philanthropist.

Underpinning the time-slip story in The Travelling Philanthropist, is the recurring theme of loss: the missing foundling; Anna lost in the eighteenth century; her loss of identity in the contemporary world because she was adopted. This creates conflict. By the end of the novel there is resolution. Anna’s character undergoes transformation and she returns to her life in the contemporary world with changed attitude and perception.

An earlier extract of the novel, along with my reflective commentary, featured in brightONLINE, the online journal of literary criticism and creativity, Issue 7.

Feedback from my tutor – This first chapter encompasses elements of thriller and sci-fi genres, as the protagonist is transported to 18th century London in the search for a missing child. Rumen’s considered commentary draws influence from various theoretical approaches learnt during her Creative MA module, and details the feedback, and ongoing craftsmanship involved in writing prose fiction.

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