This week I attended a talk by our friend Eugene at the Library of Congress where he and my dh were co-workers before they retired. Eugene is also the dh of my friend Helen and Helen is the coordinator of the Library of Congress Professional Association What If…Science Fiction and Fantasy Forum.
Years ago Eugene became interested in the legend about the Angel of Mons. In the legend, an angel or group of angels are said to have protected the British Army in the Battle of Mons at the beginning of World War I. At that time I’d read about the Angel of Mons in Sophie Burnham’s A Book of Angels (it appears in the 2011 edition as well as the 1990 one).
But it turns out the legend is not true. Eugene explained that it originated with a short fictional story by Arthur Machen. In Machen’s story, written about a month after the battle, the German army was stopped by St. George and some phantom bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt. The story captured the imaginations of religious folk and spiritualists and it was widely reprinted. Quickly the fact that it was fiction was lost and the story was accepted as true.
Machen tried over and over to convince people that he made it all up. In spite of his repeated efforts to say it was untrue and the lack of any credible evidence otherwise or any first hand accounts by eyewitnesses, the legend grew, so that even in today’s world it is presented a fact.
It was a beautiful day in Washington, D.C that day. Temperatures that had been in the 20s a few days before rose to almost 70 degrees F. What could be better? A beautiful day. Great company. And some intellectual stimulation.
Have you experienced any intellectual stimulation lately?
Have you ever believed a story to be true and later discovered it was not?
Here’s hoping you all have fine weather this week!