Family & Ancestry


Family

Q. Your books are often concerned with family relationships and ancestry. Are you part of a large family yourself, and is that important to you?

A. Yes to both questions. I belong to a huge extended family network of cousins that runs literally into the hundreds. Whenever we are living near, we are in and out of each other's houses; far apart, we always keep in touch. We're people from all walks of life.

Q. Your family is widely spread around the globe?

A. My close family includes citizens of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France, and the USA. My own kids are American. By the time you get to second and third cousins, the net gets wider.

Q. And several religious faiths?

A. We can do Church of England, Church of Scotland, Catholic, Quaker, Christian Scientist, Jewish, Agnostic, atheist and I believe a Buddhist. And that's the close family. Big families give you a sense of balance.

Q. A sense of history too, perhaps.

A. You can see it at family gatherings. Thanks to the span of generations you can get with large families, my own son has met six generations of his family before reaching the age of twenty. So if he lives to a good age, he could finish by knowing nine generations. That's a total span of lives of about two hundred and seventy years. Add to that the stories the old ones told about the people they remember, and you have a Rutherfurd novel.

Did You Know?
In Manhattan in the early to mid nineteenth century, scores of pigs roamed the streets – about 20,000 of them at peak population in the early 1820’s, a ratio of roughly one pig to every five humans ! Many of them belonged to families. The city was quickly growing in the nineteenth century – in population and wealth disparity. Despite rapid urbanization, non-wealthy New Yorkers continued raising hogs as a means of surviving. A family could always slaughter one of its pigs to feed itself, or sell one of them since pork was a staple of the American diet. Why pigs? Other animals weren’t quite so compatible with urban life. People could let their pigs wander the streets, rummage through trash for the piles of spoiled food that was left out on the street during the day, and count on them to return home in the evening !




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