My Grand Fenwickian Heritage

In the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will be asking people to write in their ethnic background.

I have decided that I will report that my ancestors come from Grand Fenwick, an independent, English-speaking principality somewhere in central Europe. If I need to name a second country, I will name Ruritania.

Grand Fenwick, of course, is the fictional land in the books of Leonard Wibberley, beginning with The Mouse That Roared.

Ruritania comes from the works of Anthony Hope (such as The Prisoner of Zenda), and there’s a whole body of late-19-century and early-20th-century literature known as the “Ruritanian romance” set in exotic, fictional, central and eastern European countries. For two modern-day examples of Ruritanian lands in fiction, look at Latveria and Sokovia in Marvel Comics.

As a Doctor Who fan, I have an especial fascination with Grand Fenwick, as the movie adaptation of The Mouse That Roared features William Hartnell, the original Doctor, in a minor role. Even though it was filmed four years before Doctor Who, Hartnell looks very much like the Doctor, and in the back of my mind I wonder if he was, in fact, playing the Doctor, incognito and undercover in the royal court of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick to ensure that Tully Bascomb gets his hands on the American Q-Bomb as history records. And that leads me to wonder if the Doctor has always been involved in Fenwickian affairs; the small principality is exactly the kind of place the Doctor would like. Wibberley’s work seems like the sort of thing Big Finish Productions should license so they can adapt the original novels to audio and then tell tales of the Doctor’s lives-long love of Grand Fenwick.

Yes, when the 2020 Census rolls around, I will be a proud Fenwickian-American, and I will denote that fact while drinking a bottle of Pinot Grand Enwick, the cheap American knock-off. You don’t think I can afford a bottle of the real Pinot Grand Fenwick, do you? 🙂

Post header photo, Malbun, Lichtenstein, by Andrew Reid Wildman, licensed Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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