Watchung Booksellers in Montclair last night was cool, with a crack of thunder and streaks of lightning out the window just as I was reading a scary passage from the book.

A lot of people wanted to know where I did the research for The Orphanmaster. The easy answer is: The Iconography of Manhattan Island, the brilliant compendium of all maps, views and information about New York from long before it was called New York. Published in 1926 and still available in research libraries (and my home library, I’m happy to say), it is a Manhattan history lover’s dream. And did I mention that the huge tome’s creator was I.N. Phelps Stokes, subject along with his beautiful wife Edith Minturn of my recent book Love, Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance. Theirs was a charmed, fabulously wealthy life that had impossible highs and ultimately spiraled down into difficulty and poverty, largely because of Stokes’ obsessive love affair with The Iconography. The fact remains that without The Iconography there would be no Orphanmaster. I obtained so much period detail from this masterful, 30-pound set of volumes.

An Original Set, circa 1926

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Filed under Fiction, History, Jean Zimmerman, Love, Fiercely, Publishing, The Orphanmaster, Writing

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