This walking tour, released in conjunction with a book written by our very our tour guide Marie Carter, Mortimer and the Witches, takes us through the bustling and elegant historically-rich streets of Union Square, Stuyvesant Square, and Gramercy Park.
Mortimer Thomson, the journalist who wrote under the pseudonym, Q.K. Phlander Doesticks, P.B. went undercover in 1857 to investigate and report on the fortune tellers of New York City’s tenements and slums. When his articles were published in book form in 1858, they catalyzed a series of arrests that both scandalized and delighted the public.
But Mortimer was guarding some secrets of his own, and in many ways, his own life paralleled the lives of the women he both visited and vilified. On this tour, we will examine the lives of some of these marginalized fortune tellers while also detailing Thomson’s peculiar and complicated biography. You will also learn of the fascinating relatives and friends who surrounded him, including the Prince of Wales, his mother-in-law, Fanny Fern, who was the highest paid columnist of her time, and his daughter Ethel who would later become a famous children’s book author.
Tour designed and led by Boroughs of the Dead guide and author Marie Carter, to celebrate the release of her new book, Mortimer and the Witches, available from Fordham University Press in March 2024. Marie will be available to sign copies of the book after the tour. Copies can be purchased in advance, here.
The tour is approximately two hours long. It starts at Grace Church in the East Village and ends close to Gramercy Park.