Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Archive for June, 2007

R.I.P. Thunder’s Mouth Press

Monday, June 25th, 2007

I was surprised and saddened to learn from an article in Salon.com last week, and this article in the Los Angeles Times, that my publisher will soon be no more. As of, like, Thursday of this week. This has been confirmed by a few visits to the Publishers Group West and Perseus booths at the American Library Association conference this weekend, which I happened to be attending.

Still not sure what this all means for me and Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage. Hey, maybe it’ll become a collectible! Buy your copy today, while they last!

Actually, I think Perseus will be absorbing the title and hopefully I’ll get a marketing person again, but in the meantime if anyone from the press needs a copy, please contact me directly; I’ve got some on hand. I think the German edition is still supposed to come out someday, not sure when though. Maybe I’ll read about it online someday.

Sorry to hear that this indie publisher has gone the way of corporate mergers and acquisitions. Many thanks to the Thunder’s Mouth staff who I worked with over the past few years.

1932: Good Manners in Public Places

Monday, June 18th, 2007

I ride the Red Line on Washington’s Metrorail system every day to work. Usually it’s not so bad, but lately I seem to be seated right near folks who are just plain breaking the rules: drinking drinks, eating sandwiches, all that—not to mention the typical rude behaviors like cell phone gabbing, loud, tinny, earbuds. But the absolute worst, I tell you, was the other morning when a man nearby started clipping his fingernails right there on the train. ARGH. Man, I’m cranky! I guess I need a vacation.

Since my extended days off aren’t scheduled for a month or so from now, I must take a bit of comfort in sharing some “Good Manners in Public Places” from Good Manners for Young Americans.. This section begins with “A courteous person will not make himself conspicuous or troublesome in any place,” and does bring up a relevant piece of advice for my recent car-mate: “Care for your finger nails, your face, your hair in your room at home, not in any public place. After making your toilet as well as you can, forget it.”

Here are some other tips for manners while on public transport:

There is no other place in which the spirit of courtesy seems so lacking as in our trolley cars, elevated trains and subways.

In getting a car, stand aside, and let those who are infirm or older precede you.

Always rise to give your seat to a much older person, to a cripple or to a mother with a child.

Never chew gum in cars [uh, oh, I do this one] or in other public places. If you must chew gum, let it be within the privacy of your own room.

If you do not wish to be thought ill-bred, do not eat in street cars.

When on a train do not occupy more seat room than is yours by right.

That reminds me about the seat hoggers. Lift up your bags and let others sit down, would you, please?

A Columnist After My Own Heart

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Washington Post Magazine columnist Gene Weingarten wrote a piece this past weekend that readers of Miss Abigail would enjoy. As you may know, Bernarr MacFadden is a favorite of mine. Who knew he had something to do with inventing a penis extender? Thanks to Gene for digging up that little fact.

1934: Life Begins at Forty

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Well, here I am, on the eve of my 40th birthday, contemplating things such as oh, the last 39.999 years of my life. I can’t believe my thirties are over. Seems like only yesterday that I was starting out young and fresh at the Library of Congress, 10 years ago last month. Time flies!

To help celebrate my 40th, I of course had to turn to my books. I’ve been saving this book for this day. It’s called Life Begins at 40, written by Walter B. Pitkin. The only downside is that the subject headers in the catalog for this include “middle age” (I don’t know if I’m ready to think of myself in those terms) — but then again the subjects also include “success” — so I guess I shouldn’t nitpick too much. In any case, here’s a taste of Pitkin’s view of 40.

High excitements lie ahead of you now turning forty. The race has nibbled the fruits of wisdom and found them both sweet and sustaining. Thus far it has turned to account almost nothing of its inventions and discoveries. The world is still to be civilized; and, in your day, this supreme process will begin. Were you to be no more than idle spectators, all other ages, past and future, would envy you. But you will be more than that; you will eat the meat of giants and overtop all of your ancestors. You will soon look through a 200-inch telescope and scan the back yards of the moon as if they were at the bottom of a little hill. You will remodel your frames and your temperaments with cunningly concocted foods and pills. You will have little cause to worry over the price of clothes and rent. Or, if you do not live to see such wonders, you will at least behold them drawing near — which, of itself, will be a wonder. . . . Yes, you are the luckiest of all. Life begins at forty — now more richly than ever before, and perhaps as richly as ever again.

Gosh, forty sounds a bit kooky based on this description. Wish me luck!