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History Center Series

Author Young-Brown
to speak at OCHS program

She writes about Lexington’s unusual people, places

LA GRANGE, Ky. (June 2014) – Author Fiona Young-Brown said she never intended to write about Lexington, Ky., but upon relocating there, she developed an interest in knowing more about her new locale. Her interest grew from there and she has now written a book based on several lively characters from the city’s past.
Originally from England, Brown lived in Japan before settling in Kentucky a decade ago.

Fiona Brown Book
Brown book Cover.

In her work as a freelance writer and editor, she came across a publisher who asked if she would be interested in writing a book. When he mentioned a new series about historical scandals that his company was considering, “I instantly said I’d do it,” said Brown.
“Belle Brezing popped straight into my head, and I knew there had to be more lurking in Lexington’s history.” Brezing was an acute businesswoman who ran her own brothel, but for this reason, led a somewhat tragic life of being reviled by Lexington’s citizens.
Other characters from the city that she has included in her book, “Wicked Lexington, Kentucky,” are Cassius Marcellus Clay, Henry Clay, Lewis C. Robards (who made his fortune selling slaves), and amateur golfer Marion Miley. Brown writes about duels, murders, cheating congressmen, troubles at Transylvania University and what it meant to be black in Lexington.
“One of the things I really emphasize when talking about “Wicked Lexington” is the concept of ‘What is wicked?’ ” said Brown. “There were all of these bizarre and violent events taking place through Lexington’s history, but they were dismissed because the people were members of the right class and society. Everything they did paled into the background publicly because of one woman, who was branded wicked but who was actually intelligent, capable and very generous.”
Brown will present a program about her book at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 19, in the Rob Morris Educational Building on the Oldham County History Center campus, 106 N. Second Ave., in La Grange. Reservations are required and a light dinner fare will be served.
Brown spent quite a bit of time in the Kentucky Room at the Lexington Public Library and the Kentucky State Historical Society in Frankfort. “Both are wonderful resources for all sorts of projects and I use them constantly,” she said.
“The “Wicked” series is a national series of titles about the quirky, sinister and criminal history of a local town, city or region,” said J. Banks Smither, Commissioning Editor for The History Press.
Smither continued by saying, “Readers will enjoy learning about history that is not only entertaining but is also written for a local audience and visitor audience to better experience their locale.”
When Brown’s publisher asked her to work with him again on a cookbook series, she was intrigued. She thought it “sounded like fun. I also have a food blog, and so the idea of combining food and history appealed to me.”
Her latest book is titled, “A Culinary History of Lexington.” Brown said she “wanted to focus on history and so the recipes really came about in terms of what suits this particular historical story that I’m discussing. Some dishes have a story behind them that was a good fit for the book; others are recipes that most definitely would not consider Kentuckian now but which were at the time I was writing about.”
“Fiona’s new book is part of our American Palate series, which celebrates the flavorful histories and cultures that distinguish eating and drinking experiences across the nation,” said Sarah Falter, Publicity & Marking Director for The History Press. “Food aficionados will appreciate these books for their complex layers of knowledge, while casual food lovers will revel in the recipes, nostalgia and mouthwatering anecdotes.”
“What I like most about it is that it can be appealing to the hardcore foodie, the casual dinner, the out of town visitor, the cultural historian. I like how this title can reach all Kentuckians who just want to enliven their own connection with where they live,” said Smither.

• For more information or to make reservations, contact the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826. Tickets are $15 for members and $18 for non-members. Dinner is included in the ticket price. A cash bar will be available.

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