Tracy Chevalier

Honor Bright

This is how I imagine the main character, a young English Quaker who emigrates to America in 1850.

Oberlin, Ohio

This town was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Always a radical place, Oberlin College was the first to admit women and African Americans.

The Sick Room

Many 19th-century American houses had “sick rooms” off the kitchen because someone often had a fever and needed tending. This one is at Hale’s Farm, Ohio.

Desperate measures for desperate times

Henry "Box" Brown was a slave who mailed himself to freedom.

Tracy’s quilt

In researching the novel, I learned how to quilt the way my heroine would have, and made this all by hand.

Quakers have no formal creed.

Their unity is based on shared understanding of the "Inner Light" in each person and a shared practice of silent worship.

Hats and Bonnets

Until the 20th century women always wore something on their heads. In 19th-century America and England, they would usually have worn bonnets, and occasionally hats.

Bonnets generally were made from soft material, tied under the chin, did not cover the forehead, and did not have brims (though fancier ones could). They were worn for warmth or shade, and to protect from dust. They could be very plain, such as those worn by Quakers:

Or they could be elaborately trimmed:

Hats were less common than bonnets and were worn for special occasions - to church or weddings. They had more structure than bonnets and were often made from straw, with wide brims and flat crowns, trimmed with flowers, feathers and other shapes. They were usually worn across the forehead.



For more bonnets and hats of the era, see these Pinterest boards:


The Last Runaway