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I was first introduced to Guy Fawkes Day as a child by the immortal author E. Nesbit in The Phoenix and the Carpet:

It began with the day when it was almost the Fifth of November, and a doubt arose in some breast–Robert’s, I fancy–as to the quality of the fireworks laid in for the Guy Fawkes celebration . . .

Thus, Guy Fawkes will always, in my mind, be associated with magic carpets and imperious, mythical fowl. However, I thought I rather owed it to my profession to be a bit more informed about the actual history that gave rise to the holiday–a spot of unpleasantness, I gather, involving a failed attempt to overthrow the British government, as memorialized in this rhyme:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

So, tonight, my friend Jeremy and I are going from work to the Old State House downtown, where the Bostonian Society is hosting a scholarly lecture on “Bonfires, Effigies, and Brawls: Colonial Boston Celebrates Guy Fawkes Day.” You can check out their online exhibit right here on blogspot. Sadly, we doubt that any actual bonfires, effigies, or brawls will be in evidence. . . perhaps we will have to foment a rebellion ourselves?

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