29 June 2014

Edgar Allan Poe in the Bronx, NYC

The above photo of the cottage of Edgar Allan Poe (1809–49) in the Bronx, NYC, was taken in 2008 and we were disappointed that it wasn't open at the time of our visit. We vowed to return at some future date, so I took the opportunity to drive there from our hotel in White Plains, NY, yesterday. We certainly weren't disappointed this time. Many thanks to P. Neil Ralley for his hospitality.

Ever since our earlier visit this photo has occupied prime position on my blog's masthead because my partner Penny loves it, and she has always challenged any intentions I've had of removing it to give the blog a refreshing makeover with the admonishment: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!' Until, that is, I took a newer photo of it yesterday, complete with open door and light inside.

I've often wondered how many people looking at my blog know they are looking at Poe's Cottage, and I've received some interesting emails on the subject. One person thought it was in the Appalachians, another in the exclusive estate The Park in Nottingham, and my friend David Guillaume – a distant relative of the bizarre but brilliant writer Lionel Britton (18871971) – even wanted to know the name of the black cat to the far right of the photo by the railings: if memory serves me right, I believe David even had an idea that the 'cat' almost looked like a raven. Although I'm pretty certain it's not a cat but a black bin bag, the indefatigable ancestor-chaser Robert Hughes – occasional contributor to this blog, great-nephew of Lionel Britton and both receiver of countless emails from me and sender of countless emails to me  – put in a small plea for the retention of the 'cat'. But Penny likes the new photo and her word must remain final: in any case, the cat can still be seen on this blog post.

(Persons unfamiliar to this blog will not have heard of the writer Lionel Britton: I'm the guilty party who resurrected knowledge of him by earning a PhD on his work in 2007, I wrote the Wikipedia article on him, and if that whets your appetite then anyone can easily find much more information on this blog, which contains the entire (if sometimes unformatted – computers behave oddly at times – contents of the PhD).)

Poe's Cottage is now at the corner of Kingsbridge Road and the Grand Concourse, although it was originally about two hundred yards away. It was constructed about 1812 and Poe, his wife Virginia Clemm and mother-in-law Maria moved into the cottage in Fordham in about April 1846.

A view from the rear.


The kitchen, now also the entrance room to the museum. Almost all of the furniture in the house is of the period, although only a very few items originate from Poe's time here.

The sitting room.

This rocking chair originally belonged to the Poe household.

The ailing Virginia died of tuberculosis at the end of January 1947, and this is the original bed in which she died. When Poe died in October 1849 he was still living here, although the place of his death was Baltimore, MD. Some of the works Poe wrote during his relatively short time here include 'Annabel Lee', 'The Bells' and Eureka'.

This bronze bust of Poe was sculpted by Edmond T. Quinn.


The links below are to other Poe-related posts I've made:

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Poe in Richmond, VA
Poe in Stoke Newington, England
Poe in Boston, MA

25 June 2014

Mark Twain in Elmira, NY

'THE
MARK TWAIN
STUDY
1.8.7.4'

'THE MARK TWAIN STUDY
PRESENTED TO ELMIRA COLLEGE
BY THE LANGDON FAMILY
AND MOVED FROM QUARRY FARM
JUNE 9, 1952'

Mark Twain (real name Samuel Clemens) married Olivia (better known as Livy) Langdon of Elmira, New York state, in 1870. Shortly after that date until 1889 the Clemens, with their family, spent their summer months at Quarry Farm, Elmira, with Livy's adopted sister Susan Crane and her husband Theodore. Twain found it very helpful to work there away from his home in Hartford, Connecticut.

Susan had this octagonal study built for her brother-in-law by Alfred Thorp, and some of the decorative features resemble those in the family home in Hartford. In this study – moved from Quarry farm to Elmira College in 1952 – Twain wrote some of his most well known works, such as Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Life on the Mississippi and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In 1886, Twain even referred to his study as 'the home of Huckleberry Finn'.

A side view showing the chimney.

The inside of the study.

On one of the walls are two very relevant quotations – both written to his friend and editor William Dean Howells, the first being in 1873:

'I haven't piled up MS so in years as I have done since we came here to the farm three and a half weeks ago. Why, it's like old times, to step right into the study, damp from the breakfast table, and sail right in and sail right on, the whole day long, without a thought of running short of stuff or words.'

Another quotation from a letter is dated 11 June 1874:

'Susan Crane has built the loveliest study for me you ever saw. It is octagonal, with a peaked roof, each octagon [!] filled with a spacious window, and sits perched in complete isolation on top of an elevation that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills.'

Twain's study being transported from Quarry Farm to Elmira College in 1952.

At the side of the study:
'CLARA L. CLEMENS
1874'

'MARK TWAIN WATERING
TROUGH.
ONE OF FOUR ORIGINALLY
LOCATED BESIDE THE ROAD
TO THE COLLEGE CAMPUS
DURING THE BICENTENNIAL
YEAR 1978.'

On the campus are statues of Twain and his wife. The tiers leading up to Twain's statue bear the names of some of his books.


Olivia Langdon Clemens (1845–1904), born Olivia Iona Louise Langdon, was a student at Elmira College when it was women-only: it didn't become fully co-educational until 1969.

Cowles Hall is near Twain's study, and now houses the Mark Twain Exhibit, and this bust is near the entrance. It is in bronze and is by Ernfred Anderson, who taught drawing, sculpture and clay modeling at the college. He also created the monument to Twain and Twain's son-in-law in Woodlawn Cemetery (see below).

Mark Twain's walking stick.

Twain's self-sticking scrapbook, the only object he ever patented and made money from: he sold 25,000 in 1877 and made around $12,000 from them. 




The chapel has some superb stained glass windows, the east ones of which are dedicated to Twain and Livy.

Twain's daughter Clara commissioned Ernfred Anderson to create this monument to her father and her first husband, the director and pianist Ossip Gabrilowitsch (1878–1936).


'SAMUEL LANGHORNE CLEMENS
– MARK TWAIN 
NOV. 30, 1835–APR. 21, 1910'

The Langdon monument.

24 June 2014

Susan Fenimore Cooper, Cooperstown, NY

'SUSAN AUGUSTA
FENIMORE COOPER.
DAUGHTER OF
JAMES FENIMORE COOPER
BORN APRIL 17, 1813.
DIED DECEMBER 31, 1894.
––––––––––––
Blessed be God'

Susan Fenimore Cooper wrote several books, mainly related to naturalism. Her grave is close to that of her parents.

Paul Fenimore Cooper, Cooperstown, NY

'PAUL FENIMORE COOPER
FEBRUARY 3RD 1824.
APRIL 21ST 1895.'

Paul Fenimore Cooper was a great-grandson of the novelist James Fenimore Cooper. His books include Tricks of Women and Other Albanian Tales (1928), the children's book Tal: His Marvelous Adventures with Noom-Zor-Noom (1929), Island of the Lost (1961), and another children's book: Dindle (1964).

23 June 2014

James Fenimore Cooper in Cooperstown, NY

Today Cooperstown, upstate New York, is best known for, er, baseball, although it is named after William Cooper, the father of the novelist James Fenimore Cooper. Fenimore Cooper is perhaps most noted for his novel The Last of the Mohicans (1826), but also for the other four of 'The Leatherstocking Tales' – also novels with Natty Bumppo as the main character: The Pathfinder (1823), The Pioneers (1823), The Prairie (1827), and The Deerslayer (1841).

The Cooper statue in Cooper Park just off Main Street, Cooperstown.

'JAMES
FENIMORE
COOPER
1789         1851'

'ON THIS SITE STOOD
OTSEGO HALL,
BVILT BY WILLIAM COOPER
THE FOVNDER OF COOPERSTOWN, IN 1798.
THE HOME OF
JAMES FENIMORE COOPER
WHERE HE LIVED FROM 1834
TO THE DAY OF HIS DEATH
SEPTEMBER 14TH 1851.
DESTROYED BY FIRE IN 1853.'

The novelist is buried alongside his wife in the nearby Christ Episcopal churchyard.

'JAMES FENIMORE COOPER
BORN SEP. 15TH, 1789
DIED SEP. 14TH, 1851'

'SUSAN AUGUSTA
WIFE OF
JAMES FENIMORE COOPER
AND DAUGHTER OF
JOHN PETER DE LANCEY
BORN JAN. 28TH, 1792

DIED JANUARY 20TH, 1852'


There is a monument to James Fenimore Cooper in Lakewood Cemetery less than a mile north of Cooperstown.

This  shadowy early morning photo doesn't really do justice to the statue of Natty Bumppo at the top of it.

22 June 2014

Dr. Seuss in Springfield, MA

'FRIENDS OF LIBRARIES U.S.A.
LITERARY LANDMARKS REGISTER
DR. SEUSS
NATIONAL MEMORIAL
at the Quadrangle

Theodor Seuss Geisel, known to the world as the beloved children's author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1904 and drew much of his early inspiration from his hometown. May this memorial serve to spark creativity in future generations.

FRIENDS OF THE SPRINGFIELD LIBRARY, INC.   JUNE 1, 2002'

Dr Seuss died in 1991 and his title was perhaps wishful thinking as he never took the PhD in Literature that was his original intention. His step-daughter Lark Grey Dimond-Cates designed these superb structures, which are in five distinct parts.

Three of these parts are grouped together here, although I shall deal with each separately, naming all of the characters as I go along.

'Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat' occupies the central position in the above group, and is a work of remarkable detail.

Geisel seems to be in his seventies here, although his work of course is ageless.
It's very appropriate that his most well-known creation, The Cat in the Hat, should be standing next to him.

Among several objects on Seuss's desk is a notepad with 'Oh the places you'll go!' written on it. This is the title of his last book published in his life time, in 1990.

'Horton Court', in which several of Seuss's characters emerge from his books.

Horton the Elephant.

It's easy to miss the microscopic community of Whoville held in Horton's trunk.

Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose.

Sally and her brother.

Thing One (top) and Thing Two (bottom).

Sam-I-Am (unhyphenated, now a punk-emo band from Berkeley, CA).

'The Story-Teller', with words from the book Oh, the Places You'll Go!.

With The Grinch and his dog Max coming out of the book, this strongly reminds me of the O. Henry sculpture in Greensboro, NC, photos of which I took here.

Also extremely easy to overlook is Gertrude McFuzz perched top left of the open book.

'The Lorax', on a tree stump.

'UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not.'

(Just in case anyone may have the idea that Dr. Seuss is 'just' a children's writer, whatever that may mean.)

'Yertel the Turtle'. This final Seuss-related sculpture is behind the D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and is another gem.


Beautiful works of sculpture, and free for anyone to view.