Quizzing a Historical Figure or Two

… or Three. Or Even Four.

By Jeff Salter

Our assignment this week concerns a historical figure we might like to meet… and which three questions we’d want to ask him or her. It’s possible we had a previous topic about important historical figures who’d made an impact upon us. But I can’t recall who I wrote about that week… and I got too busy this week to go hunting for it.

So, I decided to distribute my three questions among three different historical figures. That’s fair — right?

Winston Churchill

Realizing that Sir Winston was one of the very few influential voices which railed against the rise of Hitler and Nazism in the years leading up to WW2 – and that many of his political colleagues were actually in favor of appeasement (instead of fighting) – I think I’d ask: “How did you have the strength to stay the course when almost everybody insisted that you were wrong… and how on earth could you be so certain that England would ultimately prevail?

Thomas Jefferson

Realizing that our third president was a statesman, scholar, inventor, architect, politician, author, philosopher, theologian, and amateur scientist – who recorded, documented, and studied just about anything that could be approached by an inquiring mind – I think I’d ask: “How on earth did you ever find time (much less the required energy) to keep track of all those activities… and did you have some medical problem (or psychological issue) that prevented you from just sitting still and chilling out?”

William Shakespeare

Realizing that the historical Shakespeare – who was certifiably an actor and a backstage worker in Elizabethan theater – was from a humble background that belies the type formal education one expects of an author of his magnitude, I think I’d ask: “Did you really write all those plays and sonnets… and if not, who did? And what do you think about the 400+ years of debate over this issue?”

Bonus Question

Since it’s certainly possible I would not be able to get hold of one of my top three famous personalities in time for this column, I’d prepare a question for a fourth historical figure.


da Vinci’s Madonna and Child with the Infant St. John

Leonardo da Vinci

Realizing that da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, inventor, designer, and amateur scientist – who studied things like fortifications, military weapons, royal pageants, anatomy, and even manned flight – I think I’d want to inquire: “Since sightings of UFOs did not become commonplace (and widely reported) until about the middle or late 1940s, how on earth did you know exactly what they looked like in the late 1400s… and why did you include one of them in your painting (Madonna and Child with the Infant St. John)?”


What about YOU? Which historical figure do YOU wish you could have met? And what would you have asked him or her?

Oh, I did search back through the 4F1H topics and found two weeks that are close to the notion of meeting historical figures. One was the following (though I had a Guest Fox that week to answer the question):


The other week dealt with famous celebrities we’d like to meet (or have met):


It’s certainly possible we had a week to discuss historical figures we wanted to encounter… but I could not locate it.

[JLS # 386]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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13 Responses to Quizzing a Historical Figure or Two

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Love these questions! As for Thomas Jefferson, I think I can relate. So many interesting subjects, so little time. Churchill would have been an interesting, but formidable person to meet. I’d probably stay out of arm’s reach. Shakespeare would undoubtedly be irate at having his authorship questioned. And DaVinci was an enigma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Jefferson and DaVinci are often referred to as examples of the true “Renaissance Man” notion… though I’m not sure whether they actually fit in the time frame of the Renaissance. So much talent and expertise in so many diverse areas. Quite astounding, actually.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We have a dew people in common to whom we’d like to speak, Jeff. It’s coming up with actual QUESTIONS that has given me pause this week.So many with whom I’d like to get into actual conversations though.
    Churchill, I’ll give credit where credit is due; he really pulled it off. However, the problems he gave the Irish, while saying he admired the leaders and actually stating that at one point that they should have autonomy, has made him quite duplicitous. Maybe the praise came later. But he held a grudge. You can hardly blame them for remaining neutral under the circumstances. He would have used them badly. As it was, he got them bombed on purpose. I’d like to ask him “What the heck, Fella? That was all unworthy of you.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      I happen to be reading a book (right now) on the Irish potato famine. That, and other sources I’ve seen, make it quite clear that the British — and particularly the wealthy (mostly absent) land-owners — could have greatly eased the suffering, disease, and death… if only they’d been willing to cut slightly into their profits. Most of the poor had such a pitiful existence to begin with… and when the blight came, it wiped out that slim margin they’d been clinging to.


      • True, Jeff.That is the real horror of it. It was not necessary.The brutal evictions were unnecessary.I quit using the term : “read them the riot act” when I found out that is what was done to keep those evicted from being killed or arrested when they resisted or plead for mercy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. jbrayweber says:

    Interesting choices and questions, Jeff.
    I’m sure there are people all throughout history that I would want to pick their brains. I can’t think of anything intelligent at the moment (too early in the day for thinking) but some figures that I might hit up would be Robert E. Lee, Grace O’Malley, Hedy Lamarr, Benjamin Franklin, to name a few.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love these questions!
    I have never noticed that in the painting. I always just thought it was a cloud, never really looked closely at it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      very cool that it looks exactly like a MODERN flying saucer — and there’s even a bystander looking up at it.


  5. Joselyn says:

    I like your choices and questions too. Wouldn’t it be great to know Shakespeare’s true identity and writing process?

    Liked by 1 person

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