| 1632 series |
POD: May, 1631
Ring of Fire
1634: The Baltic War
1634: The Bavarian Crisis
1636: The Devil's Opera
Grantville Gazette VII (paper)
|Type of Appearance:||Direct|
|Nationality:||United States of Europe (born in the United States)|
|Spouse:||John Chandler Simpson (husband)|
|Created by:||Eric Flint (further developed by David Weber)|
Mary Simpson was the wife of Admiral John Chandler Simpson and the mother of Tom Simpson. After a period of adjustment, Mary Simpson became one of the most prominent socialites of the United States of Europe, earning the nickname "The American Lady".
Mary Simpson came from one of the wealthiest families in Pittsburgh. She and her husband were present in Grantville for their son's wedding to Rita Stearns. Like her husband, Mary did not approve of Rita, and so spent much of the wedding and reception quietly sulking with her husband. After the Ring of Fire transported Grantville to the Germany in the year 1631, Mary and John became somewhat marginalized after John lost a political battle with Mike Stearns for control of the town, and, by extension, the embryonic New United States.
However, this period of isolation allowed Mary time to reflect. Realizing that she'd treated Rita Stearns horribly, and seeing her husband regain some political cachet as the admiral of the NUS's navy, she came to realize she had been unfair to Rita and Tom both. And although born an elite, she began in 1633 a series of behind-the-scenes machinations to expose herself to the workings of downtime society, and to persuade various upper class elements that the "Stearns revolution" and the creation of the United States of Europe under the rule of Gustavus Adolphus were good things.
She became a major figure in Magdeburg society, arranging parties, founding schools and doing important charitable work. She finally confronted John in late 1633 about the mistakes they both had made, and convinced him to urge Gustav to implement tax breaks for charitable works that will bring civilizing culture to Germany. She persuaded him to make contact with their son again.
Although she and John Simpson assumed that up-time "high society" was no different than down-time nobility, Stearns explained that her common courtesy to her servants was renowned throughout Germany, and was partly responsibly for her title, "The American Lady." After pilot Hans Richter was killed at the Battle of Wismar, long simmering anger among the German lower classes threatened to boil over. In a typical move, Stearns insisted that Mary appear on the palace steps with other important figures. Although terrified, she agreed, and was part of a series of speeches that helped quell the outbreak of rioting.
In 1634, Mary and Veronica Dreeson accompanied a trade mission to the Upper Palatinate. Her goal was to talk to Ernst of Saxe-Weimar, who Grantville's histories remembered as an advocate of education reform, about funding a normal school for training teachers. Veronica wanted to settle her first husband's estate, and see what she could get from it. This caused consternation in the capitals of Europe, as down-time leaders and their councils uniformly refused to believe that those could possibly be their real reasons. While in Veronica's hometown of Grafenwöhr, near Amberg, they were abducted and taken to Bavaria, a series of events that helped trigger the so-called "Bavarian Crisis".
In July of 1634, Mary left Munich with the "English Ladies" and Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria. Since her hair was too short to be that of a down-time woman, she often traveled as a down-time man. She also had to leave her shoes behind, as they would have said "up-timer" to anyone who saw them. Since the only shoes that could be found for her did not fit well, her feet soon became badly blistered, giving her the appearance of feebleness.