Equipped with my shiny new Reader’s Pass from the British Library, I felt the urge to go again and rummage through archives, just for the Hell of it.
Something reminded me of my past. Perhaps it was all of the studying I did of the novel Rodinsky’s Room, while working on my essay. I felt compelled to look up my great great grandfather, Henry Demarest Lloyd. Low and behold, on the BL website was his book Wealth Against Commonwealth. There were many books on him. Excited and impatient, I put them on hold and went to the library.
The whole room was quiet. It was momentous, holding these original books which my great great grandfather had written and inspired. I was somewhat incredulous that so many books on him were at the British Library, even though I know he was a prominent figure of his time. I began reading about this man I knew nothing about. A man I was genetically linked to. How strange, my first experience investigating family history.
This man was much greater, much more inspired, a much better writer than I felt I could ever be. But somehow it gave me confidence knowing I was related to him.
I can’t quite see the resemblance…
And ah! How compelling! A quote from one of my favourite poets.
This book, amazing but dense, was full of different languages.
Henry Demarest Lloyd wrote Wealth Against Commonwealth in 1894. He was an editor, journalist, and a wildly passionate political activist. Wealth Against Commonwealth was written predominantly to expose monopolies, particularly Standard Oil, and how their extreme wealth was bad for the commonwealth of the people. He wrote during the Gilded Age, but this is all the more relevant today.
Lastly, two original copies of his memorial on December 30 and November 29th, 1903. After sharing all of these exciting archives with my father, he told me another family and historical treasure which he can’t seem to lay his hands on is a booklet which was published after William’s wife (Jesse Bross Lloyd) died in 1916. It included a long memoriam by Jane Adams who was the founder of Hull House in Chicago and the first American woman to wine the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. If anyone sees a copy, could you let me know? 😉