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Enfys McMurry

Enfys McMurry is a native of Wales and a 34-year citizen of the U.S.  She was educated at the University of London, the University of Arizona, and Truman State University. She’s taken courses at Iowa State and the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop.

For seven years she taught in London, England but for 23 years was an English instructor at Indian Hills Community College, Centerville Campus.

She has had articles published in Wales’ Western Mail; in the U.S. in  The Des Moines Register; The Christian Science Monitor; The San Francisco Examiner; Architectural Digest as well as Centerville’s Iowegian.

 

She is the author of Hearst’s Other Castle and appeared on a BBC Television program on St. Donat’s Castle, one of William Randolph Hearst’s homes, this one on the coast of Wales.

In 2012, she completed a book about Centerville, Iowa.  It was 10 years of research that culminated into a comprehensive history for which the residents of the town are grateful and forever in her debt. It is entitled, Centerville: A Mid-American Saga. Centerville's history is a microcosm of American history and Enfys has captured it in this magnificent book.

 

In 2021 she completed the story of Continental Flight 11, the world's first bombing of a passenger jet airliner. It occurred on May 22 1962. The Investigation revealed it was also the first suicide bombing of any passenger airliner. Taking key roles in that investigation were the Head of the Kansas City FBI: Mark Felt (later the Watergate's "Deep Throat"); Head of the FAA: Najeeb Halaby (the father of Queen Noor of Jordan) and Missouri's Attorney General: Thomas Eagleton (the Vice Presidential nominee on the McGovern/Eagleton Democratic ticket). Enfys writes the story in a minute by minute present tense sequence. All aboard the flight were killed. But mystery surrounded a young intelligent, disciplined... and unclaimed at the impact site... German Shepherd dog.

Currently Enfys is writing a transAtlantic historical novel. Set in the years 1880-1887 and mainly in London, her fictional characters interweave in a tapestry of events that include Irish-American Fenian bombings and major figures of the day: Charles Darwin. Oscar Wilde, Annie Besant, Buffalo Bill, General Ulysses S. Grant and others.

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From 1925, St.Donat's Castle on the southernmost tip of Wales was part of a story of limitless riches and movie glamor. It was bought by American newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. This 12th Century castle with a moat, a portcullis (that worked), battlements, and dungeons, provided Hearst with a dream: to indulge his love of the Medieval. And it provided another dream: a European retreat with his companion, actress Marion Davies, and their multiple friends.

 

Hearst spent $11,000 dollars a day fusing the Castle's Medieval architecture with Hollywood's. There were 3 bathrooms when he bought the Castle. He added 57. Bedrooms were created, rooms extended, fine art works decorated walls and the world's finest armoury collection assembled. From all over Europe, from castles, ancient mansions, and churches came stone screens, 22 canopied

fireplaces, wooden ceilings and whole rooms....even a 104 by 25 foot 14th Century priory barn was reconstructed between two outer walls.

 

The rich and the famous arrived for parties, weekends or longer.

They included Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, Clark Gable and politicians Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and the future U.S. President John Kennedy with all the Kennedy family when the father Joseph P. Kennedy was Ambassador to the United Kingdom.Yet within 12 years, Hearst's empire had collapsed. His Medieval dream came to an end. The art collections were sold. A new purchaser for the castle was sought.

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From the moment that the surveyor set down his tools in 1846 to the instant that the Flying Farmers crossed the sky at the centennial celebration, the history of Centerville, Iowa, has gifted us with a unique insight into the mid-American experience. Though the population never exceeded 8,600, immigrants from more than forty different countries created a community that was both melting pot and crucible--just like the nation at large. The town forged an identity through the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, race relations, education debates and World Wars I and II while its people survived the dark history of Prohibition, crime, the Ku Klux Klan, the Mafia and the Depression. In this definitive history, Enfys McMurry captures both the particular feelings of Centerville's citizens and how they reflected and participated in the larger American story.

Inspired by Enfys' book, a colony of local artists, designers and needleworkers are currently creating 57 panels, scenes of Appanoose County history, on a 100x2 feet continuous tapestry in the style of France's Bayeux Tapestry and Wales' Last Invasion Tapestry.

Continental Airlines Flight 11
May 22, 1962:
The First Bombing of a Jet Airliner
 
 
- Pending Publication -

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