Tomorrow, April 13th, 2018, marks the 275th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth. I have had a long relationship with TJ (as some of us call him here in Virginia) ever since I moved here over twenty years ago and was delighted when I learned that he had designed another house.
Poplar Forest is a two weeks horseback ride south from Monticello and was designed in the shape of a perfect octagon. I’ve always loved all things eight-related, so I rushed at once down to Poplar Forest and launched into thousands of hours of research into the works and mental workings of America’s most fascinating architect.
I wrote about TJ’s esoteric architectural interests in a paper which I had originally prepared and sent in the form of a letter to my longtime friends and supporters: the Director of Poplar Forest, Lynn Beebe, and Poplar Forest architect, Travis McDonald.
Read Katherine’s ‘Poplar Forest & Monticello (Esoteric & Exoteric)’ letter
Thomas Jefferson in my work
In a key chapter of The Fire Thomas Jefferson takes a trip out to Le Désert de Retz (an excursion that took place in history), that mysterious private estate which still exists outside of Paris, and I have TJ explaining to Maria Cosway the ancient symbolism that is secretly hidden within the various architectural features that are scattered throughout the park.
Photos of Le Désert de Retz: http://www.ledesertderetz.fr/
Thomas Jefferson also appeared in my short story The Tuesday Club (Thriller anthology, 2006). The story unfolds on the day when TJ first meets with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in Paris, to turn over the French mission (an event that actually occurred) – and something mysterious happens, involving ancient Scottish Freemasons.
The opening paragraphs to The Tuesday Club:
Readers may also find of interest a letter from Benjamin Franklin to Mme Helvétius (above) c.1778:
“I see that statesmen, philosophers, historians, poets, and men of learning of all sorts, are drawn around you, and seem as willing to attach themselves to you as straws about a fine piece of amber.”
Read the full excerpt from the Founders Archives at the National Archives.
Benjamin Franklin also appears in The Lunar Society (The Mystery Box anthology, 2013), my short story about the ‘Lunaticks,’ who were not only scientists, but also pragmatists and humanists who believed in and spoke out for concepts like equality and justice. Learn more about The Lunar Society from my article written for BookPage.