News And Events

Flora Macdonald: Scottish Heroine, American Loyalist, and My Namesake

ESU Happy Hour

Flora Macdonald: Scottish Heroine, American Loyalist, and My Namesake

Guest Speaker: Flora Fraser

Save the Date:
Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 3:00 PM CT

Join our next ESU Happy Hour on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 3:00 pm CT hosted by ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper. Dr. Peeper will be introducing Flora Fraser, a historical biographer specializing in 18th-century women. Fraser invites you to raise a Highland Whisky or whisky-less sour to Scottish heroine, Flora Macdonald, the subject of her latest book.

The author grew up in the Highlands and was named, like many there, after this Scottish heroine. When Bonnie Prince Charlie was a fugitive in the Western Isles in 1746 after the disastrous defeat of his Jacobite army at Culloden, Flora Macdonald and he escaped from Hanoverian redcoats "O'er the sea to Skye". Author Flora Fraser will share with you, historical images of the Stuart prince dressed as Flora's Irish maidservant and of the heroine herself, painted by leading London artists.

Flora Macdonald's fame justly endures to this day, in poetry, song and dance, in Outlander, and on Walker's shortbread biscuit tins. She was not born into wealth or great rank, nor did she have a superior education. Nevertheless, she managed to negotiate civil war on either side of the Atlantic and receive, in her final years on Skye, a Royal pension from a Hanoverian prince too! Flora Fraser hopes you will enjoy surveying with her this remarkable life. ESU Happy Hour programs are online, free, and open to all members, and the public. Registration is required. Please register here.

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About Flora Fraser

Flora Fraser is a historical biographer, based in London, specializing in archival research on women of the eighteenth century in Europe and in America. Her books include Beloved Emma: The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton, The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline, Princesses: The Daughters of George III, and Venus of Empire: The Life of Pauline Bonaparte.

Her recent book, The Washingtons: George and Martha, won the 2016 George Washington Book Prize. Her new life of Scottish heroine, Flora Macdonald is available in the UK as Flora Macdonald 'Pretty Young Rebel' (Bloomsbury) and in the US as Flora Macdonald: "Pretty Young Rebel": Her Life and Story (Knopf).


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Pierre Madlangbayan Wins First Place in 2023 People's Choice Award

Pierre Beatrix Madlangbayan, a junior from Garden City High School, Garden City, Kansas, won First Place in the People's Choice Award. Pierre won First Place in the ESU Kansas City Branch Semi-Finals. The People's Choice Awards were announced by ESU Chairman, Dr. E. Quinn Peeper during the ESU National Shakespeare Competition Finals held at Lincoln Center in New York City, April 25, 2023. 

Out of the 41 students who entered the National Shakespeare Competition's People's Choice Award, Pierre received the most votes from her classmates, friends, and relatives, both in Garden City, Kansas, and the Philippines for her performance of the character of Mark Antony from the play Julius Caesar and reciting a Shakespeare sonnet.

(Left) Bill Kennedy, President of the ESU Cleveland Branch, presents People's Choice Award to Pierre, a student from the ESU Kansas City Branch.

The People's Choice Awards are granted to the three students who receive the most votes from classmates, friends, and relatives after watching their Shakespeare video monologue performance and sonnet recitation.

Three awards: First Place winner receives $1,000 (generously provided by the ESU Cleveland Branch); Second Place winner receives $500 from ESU National; and Third Place winner receives $250 from National.

The three People's Choice Award winners and votes are:

  • First Place: Pierre Beatrix Madlangbayan, ESU Kansas City Branch—565 votes 
  • Second Place: Tucker Claremont, ESU Naples Branch—475 votes 
  • Third Place: Victoria Salazar, ESU San Francisco Branch—365 votes 

Ben Martin, President of the Kansas City Branch, sent congratulations to Pierre, "On behalf of all ESU Kansas City members and our board of directors, we are excited that you won First Place in the People's Choice Award. Your friends and family have supported you all the way during the ESU National Shakespeare Competition. Congratulations!"

Nearly 8,000 people from around the world voted for this year's ESU National Shakespeare Competition's People's Choice Award. 


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2023 National Shakespeare Competition Winners Announced

On April 24, 2023, our 40th Anniversary National Shakespeare Competition was held in-person at Lincoln Center in New York City. Forty-one semi-finalists came from all over the country, along with parents, branch coordinators, and supporters. Thank you to everyone who made our first in-person National Shakespeare Competition since 2019 a great success! We are so proud of everyone who performed.

With her performances of Sonnet 14 and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Elena Hollenbeak of the ESU Hawaii Branch won the English-Speaking Union's 40th Annual National Shakespeare Competition. She is a student of Lyn Ackerman at St. Andrews School – The Priory. As the first-place winner, Elena will attend the British American Drama Academy Program this summer in London. Lyn Ackerman will receive the $1,000 ESU Teacher Recognition award.

Casey Kerr of the ESU Central Florida Branch took second place with her performances of Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Sonnet 81. As the second-place winner, Casey will be attending the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp in Staunton, Virginia.

Nicole Beverly Chien of the ESU New York City Branch took Third-Place for their rendition of Prince Hal in Henry IV and Sonnet 130. Nicole will take home a cash prize of $1,000.

The ESU provided the semi-finalists with a weekend of educational and cultural activities in New York City, including an acting workshop at the English-Speaking Union National Headquarters in mid-town, a double-decker bus tour of New York City and a performance of The Play That Goes Wrong on Broadway. Perhaps best of all for these teenagers was the opportunity to spend a weekend in New York City with other students from across the country who share a love of Shakespeare. 

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is a school-based program designed to help students develop their speaking and critical thinking skills and their appreciation of literature as they explore the beauty of the language and timeless themes in Shakespeare's works. In three progressive competition levels, students memorize, interpret, and perform monologues and sonnets in their own schools, at ESU Branch-sponsored community competitions and at the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition. 

The National Shakespeare Competition is only one of the many educational programs and initiatives of the English-Speaking Union that over the years have changed the life trajectories of so many people – students, teachers, English language learners, new immigrants, and of course our ESU members. Founded in 1920, the ESU is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that promotes English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities. For additional information about the English-Speaking Union, please visit For details about the ESU Kansas City Branch or to become a member, please visit


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Kipling's Kim: The Great Game and Real Spies with David Richards

Next ESU Happy Hour

Kipling's Kim: The Great Game and Real Spies with David Richards

Join ESU's Next Happy Hour Hosted by
ESU's Greenwich Branch

Save the Date:
Wednesday, April, 26, 2023 at 3:00 PM CT

Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim (1901) introduced the reading public to the romance of the international spy, a story of the Great Game, the contest between Great Britain and Russia for the control of the Indian subcontinent. But was the spy network real, or made up, and what impact did the story have on actual spies, such as "Kim" Philby, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and Theodore Roosevelt's grandson, "Kim" Roosevelt? And how did its themes influence literary successors like John Buchan, Ian Fleming, and Le Carré? The long shadow of this story of this Anglo-Irish-Indian orphan falls far forward into international and literary history. Save the date: April 26 at 3:00 pm CT.

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About David Richards

David Alan Richards has degrees in history from Yale College and Cambridge University, where he was a Keasbey Scholar, lives in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, and before his retirement practiced real estate law in New York City. He is the author of seven books, including two on the great English poet and novelist he will discuss today—Rudyard Kipling: The Books I Leave Behind, the catalogue of the 2007 exhibition of his Kipling collection, the world's largest, in Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and Rudyard Kipling: A Bibliographypublished by the British Library in 2010. His next book is I Give These Books: The History of Yale University Library, 1656-2022appearing this spring from Oak Knoll Press. He is presently serving as the President of the Kipling Society, the first non-Briton to serve in that position.


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WorldQuest 2023

If you love trivia contests, this event is for you! The International Relations Council is hosting WORLDQUEST 2023 again this year and all ESU members and Friends of ESU are invited to attend.

Teams of eight representing area businesses, universities, nonprofit organizations, community groups, ambitious students, and globetrotters put their global knowledge to the test. There will be six rounds of ten questions covering topics like global affairs, geography, world languages and cultures, history, and more in this fun and interactive competition. The winning team takes home the traveling trophy, while second-place and third-place teams win valuable prizes.

Last year ESU sponsored a table of eight and we would like to sponsor a table of eight again this year, perhaps two ESU tables if enough interest.

The program includes a buffet-style meal featuring cilantro grilled chicken breast, grilled teriyaki salmon, Asian slaw, garlic lemon ginger broccoli, sticky rice, vegetarian lo mein, and fortune cookies. Coffee, hot tea, beer, wine, and dessert will also be served.

When: Wednesday, April 26, 2023, 6:00 to 9:00 pm

Where: Pierson Auditorium, 5000 Holmes Rd., on UMKC Campus. Once you arrive at the auditorium, there will be a table to purchase your ticket.

Tickets: $60 per person. Cash, check, or credit card accepted at the door on arrival.

Parking: Best covered parking is on levels 5 and 6 of the Cherry Street Garage, 5005 Oak St., a short walk to Pierson Auditorium.

Please RSVP to Jeff Schnabel if you can attend. (816) 878-1239 or


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The English-Speaking Union

Kansas City Branch

Kansas City Branch Landmark Photo