Monthly Archives: February 2013

Abraham Lincoln and Wilmington

DSCF0122I saw “Lincoln” recently. Daniel Day-Lewis was phenomenal. He is one of the few actors who achieve perfection, or near-perfection, in every role they play (I would place Meryl Streep in the same category).

Until I saw the film, I had forgotten the importance of Wilmington NC as a strategic shipping port in the Civil War. By August 1864, when Mobile, Alabama fell to Union forces, Wilmington had become the last big Southern seaport open to the outside world. As the hub of the Confederate shipping trade, it was a major target for Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S Grant and blocking access to the Cape Fear River was one of their key objectives.

I had none of this in mind when I selected Wilmington as the location for a big chunk of The Girl with the Haunting Smile. I chose it because (a) I know it well, as my sister and brother-in-law live there (b) in my eyes, it is an extremely pleasant and attractive place. I featured Airlie Gardens, the riverwalk and some downtown streets because they are so picturesque and colourful. There are plenty more I could have included.

Still, it’s good to be reminded that the town where I set much of my novel is a key part of America’s great history. It will be clear from The Girl with the Haunting Smile that I love Wilmington. Now that I recall its place in the growth of a great nation, I’ll view it with awe.