Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Sherwood Ring: An epiphany 61 years in the making!

I decided to make some short videos about books I love that inspired me to write historical fiction.

If this doesn't show up on your device, try this YouTube link:

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Jane Austen Musical Quiz #1

In 1997, my late mother, Ruth Bell, and I went on the first ever tour of England put on by the Jane Austen Society of North America. (This is the tour on which I found the inspiration to write my latest historical novel for young readers, A Buss from Lafayette.)  Before we left, we put together a audio musical quiz for our fellow travelers concerning the music used in various dramatizations of Jane Austen novels produced over the years. We wanted to see who could identify 1) the title of the Austen novel dramatization in which the music is used; 2) the name of the character who performs the piece and where, or how the music is used in some other way; 3) the date and producer (such as the BBC) of the dramatization, and (for extra credit) 4) the title and composer of the piece.

We had great fun doing this, and our fellow JASNA travelers identified nearly every one correctly.

Would you like to give it a go??

Here is Quiz #1. Enjoy!

(If you cannot watch the video above, you may access it on YouTube here.)

Send your quiz answers to me at (with Jane Austen Musical Quiz #1 on the subject line, please).

Winners will be posted on this site. I promise.



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

G. Washington: Craftier than We Thought!

A Fringed Hunting Shirt Worn in the American Revolution
(on display at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia)

I recently found an interesting article on the website of The New England Historical Society, entitled "Seven Fun Continental Army Facts." Here's a link so you can read the whole thing:
Several of these "facts" that were most gratifying, as they support historical bits I have included in my historical fiction. Here's an example from my first such novel for young readers, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm:
“Wait a minute,” I protested. “What about his blue-and-tan uniform like George Washington’s?” I found my history book and opened it to a picture of Washington. Geordie sprang up from the bed. “Your ignorance is vastly amusing, Lars. Early in the war, hardly anybody had a real uniform—except for rich people like Washington. And those uniforms were all different colors, not just blue and buff. Some American uniforms were as red as the ones the British soldiers wore.” He looked at the history book picture and chuckled. “Nay, country boys like Will were lucky if they had a whole pair of ordinary breeches, let alone a whole uniform. Sometimes they’d make themselves leather hunting shirts to use for a sort of uniform. In truth, Washington liked to have them wear those shirts, because the British figured everybody in one was a genuine sharpshooter. Most of those American boys couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, but they surely did look the part!   - The Riddle of Penncroft Farm,  © Dorothea Jensen 

And here's what the New England Historical Society article said on this subject:

Those blue-and-buff uniforms didn’t arrive until later in the war, and then only a few states had those colors. In the early days, Washington suggested the ‘rifle dress.’ It included a fringed hunting shirt (a long loose coat usually made of homespun) and long pants with gaiters or leggings dyed the color of a dry leaf. The soldier topped off his rifle dress with a round dark hat turned up once or three times with a cockade or sprig of green. He also had a white belt for the cartouche box and a black cloth around the neck.
Washington liked the rifle dress because of its practicality and because it scared the British soldiers, who thought only sharpshooters wore it. “It is a dress which is justly supposed to carry no small terror to the enemy, who think every such person a complete marksman,” wrote Washington.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Rhyming History??? What do you think???

Inspired by Hamilton (the musical) and Longfellow (The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere), I have been entertaining myself by writing a rhyming version of the complete history of how Lafayette helped the U.S. win independence. I am calling this poem Liberty-Loving Lafayette (LLL). It starts like this:

So, listen up, my children, and I'll do my best to tell
How a teenaged French aristocrat served all of us so well.
Without his help, we might have lost our fight for liberty
And we'd still be speaking English like the Brit autocracy.

Now, LLL is pretty much complete, and I have no idea what to do with it. As advised by experts in publishing, I have done an exhaustive search on the internet to see :

1) If there is any other rhyming history out there, and
2) Does anybody want or buy it?

The answers to both of these questions appears to be an unequivocal NO.

The only book I can find that professes to be rhyming history is a history of England featuring poems by famous authors.


LLL's word count is a bout 1100 words (I was trying to make it about the same length as "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", which is 986 words long.) If illustrations are added, and if the stanzas are divided appropriately, it would be about the length of a children's picture book, 32 pages.

I have no idea if there would be any market for such a thing.

Please let me know what you think, at



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Something Familiar about the Victory Parade. . .

Something about this scene (from  the Patriot Victory Parade today) looked familiar! Then I realized all I had to do was replace the duck boat. . .

, , ,with an open carriage. . .

. . .to get a glimpse of how Lafayette was greeted everywhere he went on his Farewell Tour (1824-5).

This unique journey is the historical background for 


Learn more at

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Humpty, Dumpty, and Oxen in General

When I got to the barn, I greeted Humpty and Dumpty, the two oxen who pulled the plow in the springtime, the wagon at harvest time, and the sledge in the winter. Too bad I cannot ride an ox, I thought. I doubt anyone could put a sidesaddle on Humpty or Dumpty. I patted the noses of the large, gentle, brown beasts and fed each of them a handful of fresh hay before moving on to Feather’s stall.

A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

Here is a team of oxen pulling a cart at Old Sturbridge Village. When I was there recently, I asked one of the costumed interpreters there what an ox is, exactly.  He told me that it is a steer (castrated bull) that has been trained to pull ploughs, carts, wagons, etc., that is at least 4 years old. Before reaching this age, it is simply regarded as a trained steer.

As you can see by this video I took at OSV, oxen are NOT built for speed, but are very strong!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Lafayette Meets Silas Deane in Picture & in Verse!

A wonderful artwork exhibit at the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, PA.

Enlisting Foreign Officers

In this 1857 painting by American artist Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887), entitled "Baron DeKalb introducing Lafayette to Silas Deane," the German-born officer Johann de Kalb introduces American diplomat Silas Deane to the youthful Marquis de Lafayette in Paris in 1776. The Continental Congress had sent Deane as a secret agent to France in order to seek financial and military assistance against the British. Deane enlisted the services of a number of foreign officers, including De Kalb and Lafayette, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1777 to take up positions in the Continental Army.

Silas Deane made so many promises of high military rank  to European officers that Congress and Washington got sick of dealing with these claimants. Neither really welcomed Lafayette with much enthusiasm  until a letter came from Dean and Franklin explaining the importance of Lafayette's position. and cautioning against letting the young Frenchman get in harm's way.

Here is a bit more of my rhyming couplet history explaining what happened.

He met with Agent Silas Deane, and was delighted when                                       
Dean gave him a commission as a Yankee Major Gen.
. . .
When he arrived in Philly, though, despite his famous charms
Nobody welcomed him with even slightly open arms.
“Oh, not another foreigner, we have more than our share
And such a young and raw recruit we simply cannot bear!
The gall of Mr. Silas Deane: gun-buying is his task,
But he gives lofty ranks galore to all of those who ask!”
 Then just in time a letter came from far across the sea
From Deane himself and Franklin, who were stationed in "Paree."
 "He is both rich and famous, this Marquis de Lafayette.
His friends are French aristocrats, and Queen M. Antoinette.
 So give him a high rank and let him bask in glory's glow
But keep him safe, for heaven's sake (and never let him know).
 dead marquis won't help us gain much-needed French support
But this boy's service in our cause will wow King Louis' court!"
 So they made him major general for these diplomatic ends
And he and General Washington became the best of friends.