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Michelle's Musings

Born to Write? part II

Writing requires in-depth research at times, and I find the more I research, the more I want to learn. When I come across an interesting character in my lineage, I find myself making a beeline for the google search bar. It's mind-boggling to encounter an entire encyclopedia of information on an individual in my family tree who turns out to hold a prominent place in history (and not always a good one). But I also enjoy immersing myself in the era during which that ancestor existed.


Last month I promised to reveal a surprising discovery from my ancestral tree—one with significant ties to the writing world. I recently unearthed a Bishop Dr. Thomas Cowper/Cooper (my 12th great-grandfather on my father's side), a Cambridge University alumnus born around 1517 in Oxford, England where he practiced as a physician. After editing and revising Bibliotheca Eliotae, a Latin dictionary written by then deceased Sir Thomas Elyot, Bishop Cooper authored his own dictionary titled Thesaurus Linguae Romanae et Britannicae (also known as Cooper's Thesaurus). Three more editions followed, although controversy remains about whether he "borrowed" from other works to compile his own.


I was blown away to learn about this well-documented part of my lineage, not to mention that Bishop Cooper was also a physician and an author. While I cannot cross-check my DNA with his, I've pored over several documents that are consistent with my descent from Bishop Cooper, including the fact that I share DNA with his other descendants. But wait, there's more!


It's well-documented that Queen Elizabeth I owned and was quite fond of her copy of Cooper's Thesaurus, ultimately referring to it as Cooper's Dictionary. Bishop Cooper's daughter, Elizabeth (my 11th great-grandmother), was the Queen's namesake and goddaughter. Elizabeth's daughter, Jane (my 10th great-grandmother), was the namesake for Lady Jane Grey, aka the Nine Day Queen who was executed along with her husband after being charged with high treason.


But that's not all. Through statistical analysis of Shakespeare's word usage, it's widely believed the renowned poet, playwright, and actor used Cooper's Thesaurus/Dictionary in the creation of his poems and plays. Who woulda thought?


It's an interesting question to pose: Is writing in my DNA?  I certainly feel this to be the case, that I really was born to write.


And, now, on to my next act!

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