Kristan Tetens was born in Highland Park, Michigan. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Michigan State University, where by day she works as a public relations manager. By night, she's an independent scholar who has published widely in the area of 19th-century British cultural history. Her current work focuses on Muslim agency in Britain and British India, representations of India on the Victorian stage, and the actor Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905). Kristan blogs at The Victorian Peeper.
Why do you blog? > To share my boundless enthusiasm for the amazing (and sometimes appalling) age of the Victorians (1837-1901). I bring a historian's perspective to the period and use each post to illuminate a different aspect of 19th-century British culture.
What has been your best blogging experience? > My first big thrill was when the Barbican Centre linked to my post about its 2007 'Seduced: Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now' exhibit. I also love having readers in unexpected places, like Mexico and Iran.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Have fun. Post something new at least twice a week. Proofread your posts. Until you have a solid readership base, spend as much time promoting your blog as you do writing it. Participate in blog carnivals related to your topic.
What are your favourite blogs? > Among my favourites are Amardeep Singh, Diary of Saad Eskander, Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive, and Words Without Borders.
What are you reading at the moment? > Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, The Wilder Shores of Love by Lesley Blanch, The Last Mughal: The Eclipse of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857 by William Dalrymple.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Impossible to choose among Jigsaw: An Unsentimental Education by Sybille Bedford, Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson, and The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen. Two Victorian novels would make a short list of favourites: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.
What is your favourite movie? > I think Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility is nearly perfect.
Who is your favourite composer? > J.S. Bach.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > 'Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.' (Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > 'I don't have to be careful, I've got a gun!' (Homer Simpson)
Who are your political heroes? > Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Boris Yeltsin (for about 10 minutes in 1991), Mary Robinson, Madeleine Albright.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I would like the leaders of my country to overcome their reluctance to engage in humanitarian intervention.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be President, who would you choose? > Bill Bradley or Al Gore.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Religious fundamentalism.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > The best is definitely yet to come.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > From Samuel Johnson's The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (1759): 'Nature sets her gifts on the right hand and on the left. There are goods so opposed that we cannot seize both, but, by too much prudence, may pass between them at too great a distance to reach either... Flatter not yourself with contrarieties of pleasure. Of the blessings set before you, make your choice and be content.'
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Only if he's enormously rich and has one month to live. Otherwise, absolutely not.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Kindness. And good grooming.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Like Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, I abhor deliberate cruelty.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I would pay much less attention to authority.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > London.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Hiking and horseback riding in Glacier National Park, Montana.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Thinking about hiking and horseback riding in Glacier National Park, Montana; reading glossy magazines; making cupcakes; shouting at the idiots who appear on the Fox News Channel.
What is your most treasured possession? > A walnut W.L. Gilbert Regulator No. 10 clock that belonged to my great-grandfather; also, a set of photos taken on New Year's Day 2002, when a group of friends and I served meals to Ground Zero recovery workers at Nino's Restaurant in New York City.
What talent would you most like to have? > I wish I could play the piano. I'm planning to take lessons just so I can play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > It's a toss-up between professional tennis player and princess.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > I’d like to do a PhD in modern history at Cambridge University.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Bill Clinton, David Letterman and Jack Nicholson.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]