Thursday, December 25, 2014

Esperanto Prodigy Starts Marriage Career

Where do you even begin to correct this?
One of the advantages of looking back at history is that you know so much more than the people who had to live it. And so, with the announcement in the New-York Tribune on December 25, 1921 that Winifred Sackville Stoner had married, we know that it was just for the first time, and that she would go on to marry three more times. But perhaps we can wish the couple a happy time anyway.

By this time, the Stoners seemed to have dropped any interest in Esperanto. Winifred Sr. attached herself to the Esperanto movement as a way of promoting her theories on the education of children. By the time Winifred Jr. was nineteen, all hopes of using her as an example of “natural education” were done for. But although the Stoners seemed to have been less active in the the Esperanto movement after 1910, the association with Esperanto would continue to follow them.

Winifred Stoner really did make a career out of marriage. This was her first of six.
Former Child Prodigy Globe Trotter’s Bride

Winifred Sackville Stoner, Now 19, Is Married to Charles Phillipe de Bruche
Winifred Sackville Stoner, who was a child prodigy just ten years ago, has proved herself just an ordinary girl when it is Cupid she has to deal with.

Announcement was made yesterday of the marriage of Miss Stoner, now nineteen years old, to Charles Philippe de Bruche.

Her husband is a globe trotter and lover of the many sports in which Miss Stoner has excelled. When she was nine years old she published a volume each of poetry and prose in English and had adapted Mother Goose in Esperanto. She leaned to scan Virgil in place of lullabies, and at two years old could speak both French and English. She has been doing magazine writing for the last two years and has also completed a novel on peace.
Winifred’s mother, the elder Winifred Sackville Stoner, had actually maintained that the child was “just an ordinary girl,” and that it was Mrs. Stoner’s educational methods that make her what she was. This was an era when fact checking seemed to be in its infancy, and reporters generally took Mrs. Stoner's statements at face value, including her tall tales about close descent from British nobility.

The marriage was not to last. According to Wikipedia, de Bruche supposedly died in an automobile accident a year after the marriage, then reappeared eight years after that. And, instead of a count, her husband was an imposter. But, then again, imposture seemed to come naturally to the Stoners. The title page of Patrino Anserino states that the translator was six in 1910, which is a nifty trick to then be nineteen in 1921 (personally, I’d rather not age thirteen years in eleven). Mrs. Stoner had a tendency to shave some years off her daughter’s age in order to make her seem all the more precocious. In reading articles about the Stoners, I have to frequently double-check ages against documented birth dates.

Mr. Bruch does not seem to have been an Esperantist himself, though by 1921, I doubt any Esperanto was being spoken in the Stoner household.

In any case, here’s one of the poems from Patrino Anserino.
Fraŭlineto Muffet
Fraŭlineto Muffet sidis
Sur herbaĵo, kaj ekridis,
Dum ŝi manĝis el pelveto
Multe de al kazeaĵo
Kun sekakto kaj fruktaĵo.

Sed ŝi sentis teruregon
Ekvidinte aranegon
Kaj rapide kuris ŝi
Tiam for de tie ĉi.

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