Heir presumptive-person who will be heir unless a nearer relative is born.
This exercise: Close your eyes, open the dictionary, and put your finger on a word. Use that word as a springboard, and begin writing.
Well. What have I done? Heir presumptive? How in the world am I going to write about that? The first thing I think of is Downton Abbey—how a family with three daughters with no male heir was hoping that the eldest girl would marry the heir presumptive before he went down in the Titanic. The new heir presumptive was a commoner, son of a (gasp) doctor.
Then, of course, there are the British novels of the Georgian and Victorian eras, Austen particularly—Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion—where because females cannot inherit, their estates and their futures are in peril.
I think about the real women of the age who, when they married, forfeited their inheritances to their husbands who were totally in charge, and, sometimes, bankrupted them. Jenny Jerome, an American heiress who married Winston Churchill’s father and became Lady Randolph Churchill, lost her fortune to her husband’s profligate spending. Some women decided it was better to remain unmarried than to cede their independence. They were in the minority.
I think about women who were teachers and had to give up their jobs when they married. I, myself, was forced to resign in 1969 when I became pregnant with my first child. 1969! Recently I read two books involving teachers—one set in WWI “The Summer Before the War” by Helen Simonson, and one set in WWII “Everyone Brave is Forgiven” by Chris Cleave. In both cases, women were “allowed” to be teachers only in special circumstances. I marched in the Women’s March with my daughter and granddaughter because I fear a return to the paternalistic days of yore.
I think about “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and wonder about those who believe the slogan to be strident and divisive. I wonder how it would be if there were more women in congress and in state houses. Would there be more compromise? I don’t know. I think there would be.
I wonder how “heir presumptive” got me here today.