Thursday, June 25, 2009

William Lloyd Garrison, always getting people in trouble

This Sunday at 5 pm, Susan Lenoe and Lani Petersen from Andover perform "The Grimké Sisters, Turning the World Upside Down" at the Rocky Hill Meeting House on Portsmouth Street in Amesbury (map; a freewill offering to benefit local food pantries will be taken, according to the Newburyport Daily News).

The sisters, Angelina and Sarah, grew up in a wealthy South Carolina slave-owning family, but fought against it from an early age. Sarah often told the story that she was so upset at age five at seeing a family slave whipped that she tried to run away to a place where slavery didn't exist.

From the Newburyport Daily News:

Angelina herself was thrust into the spotlight of the abolitionist movement by William Lloyd Garrison who, as publisher of The Liberator in Newburyport, mistakenly published a letter from Angelina that was meant to be private correspondence.

In her letter, she urged the passionate newspaperman Garrison to continue his fight against slavery, stating, "The ground upon which you stand is holy ground. Never, never surrender it ... if you surrender it, the hope of the slave is extinguished."

While the letter resulted in the sisters' being driven from their communities, it also thrust them into the national spotlight, prompting their trip to the North and setting the course of their destinies.

The two ended up in Massachusetts, with Angelina being the first woman to address the state legislature and skillfully debating slavery supporters in Amesbury.

Angelina and Sarah's connection to the NSLT extends beyond Garrison. Their nephew Francis Grimké eventually married Salem's Charlotte Forten, who was the first black woman to teach white children at the integrated Epps Grammar School in the 1860s and who wrote extensively about her experiences teaching the Gullah-speaking children of freed slaves on St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NSLT links

  • Bonnie Hurd Smith on Salem's many self-guided walking trails, including ones about Nathaniel Bowditch and Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as women's history and African-American history. Many of these tours are available to download for free from places like the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.
  • North Shore Art Throb posts a review of Ralph Maud’s new biography, Charles Olson at the Harbor.
  • The Boston Globe on the symbiotic marketing of Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader and Salem tourism. (This is from last summer, but just turned up in RSS feeds today and is still an interesting tidbit.)

The Pioneer in Women's Rights Who Was on the Wrong Side of History

George Mason University's History News Network has an article about Gloucester's Judith Sargent Murray by Sheila Skemp, author of a new biography of the early agitator for women's equality: First Lady of Letters: Judith Sargent Murray and the Struggle for Female Independence.

Skemp makes the case that Sargent Murray's class bias is a large part of why she remains less known than someone like Mary Wollstonecraft, whose essay "A Vindication of the Rights of Women" receives more credit as an early feminist text than Murray's own earlier essays in The Gleaner. From Skemp's article:
It is no wonder, then, that virtually every historian familiar with her work sees Murray as a modern woman whose failure to achieve the recognition she deserved can be explained by the “fact” that her view of women’s rights was so far ahead of its time. A careful analysis of Murray’s conception of gender and class, however, reveals that her attitudes rested on a distinctly old fashioned intellectual foundation, and were already becoming obsolete. In some ways, she was not a forward-looking character at all—she was someone whom history would soon pass by.
Related: Gloucester's Sargent House Museum

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Whittier events at Amesbury Days

The 110th annual Amesbury Days celebrations begin tomorrow. The first event is a guided tour of the Whittier Home, where the poet lived with his mother, aunt, and sister for much of his adult life.

It starts at 2 pm, at 86 Friend Street, and the Amesbury Days kick-off block party starts just a little later at 5:30 at the Huntington Square gazebo (which no one seems to provide an address for, although I'm sure if you're from Amesbury you know it. I think it's on Main Street not far from the Whittier Home.)

Wicked Local Amesbury has the full schedule of events.

Later, on Saturday, June 27 from 2 to 3 pm, the Whittier home hosts one of their monthly teas in the garden. From the Whittier Home website:
Whittier’s love of nature was clearly exhibited in his garden. Today, the descendents of the purple gentian, monarda, and grapevines he wrote about still bloom. Enjoy an elegant tea in the beautiful historic gardens of the John Greenleaf Whittier Home in Amesbury, MA. 2p.m. in the garden. 86 Friend St. $15. Purchase tickets online by clicking our Gift Shop link above, or call 978-38-1337 for reservations.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Whittier sites

Some of Jeff's photos from our tour of Whittier sites last spring. Pantry and barn at the Whittier Homestead in Haverhill, the Whittier Home in Amesbury, and Whittier's gravesite in Amesbury.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Alan Pearsall book signing

Photo (c) Jeff Steward
Artist Alan Pearsall is signing his recent book American Town: The History of Ipswich, Massachusetts next weekend. It's the companion to his Ipswich history mural on the wall of Ebsco Publishing along the city's Riverwalk (which he graciously allowed me to reproduce photos of it in the NSLT) and is chock-full of illustrations and photographs.

June 14, 2–4 pm
Ipswich Historical Society

June 19, 3–7 pm
First National Bank of Ipswich

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Physick Book out today!

The much hyped, eagerly awaited debut novel by Marblehead's Katherine Howe, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, came out today and shot directly to the top of Barnes & Noble's best-seller list. (Seriously, reviews aplenty. One calls it a cross between Harry Potter and The DaVinci Code, which sounds like a recipe for summer book list domination.)

It's known as The Lost Book of Salem overseas... Anyone want to put bets on what the movie will be called, because if the rights aren't sold already they will be by next week.

Recent mentions in the Boston Globe, cover of Indie Bound's Next List for this month, and Kate will be on Good Morning America tomorrow morning.

Catch her first local reading tomorrow at Marblehead's Abbott Library at 6:30 pm.

Goooooo Kate! Congratulations!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Today at the North Shore Barnes & Noble

Yikes! Glad I called ahead to confirm... apparently today's event at Barnes & Noble is a talk and then a signing, not just a signing. So get there at 1 pm for some stories about folks like John Greenleaf Whittier, Jones Very, and Lucy Larcom.

Barnes & Noble (map)
North Shore Mall at the junction of Highways 114 and 128 and adjacent to Shaws Supermarket
Saturday, June 6, 1–3 pm

Friday, June 5, 2009

Uncle Tom's Cabin

A nice overview at the always interesting Mass Moments blog.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Catching up with my RSS feeds

  • Forgot to add this to my recent post about literary-themed movies: Kill Your Darlings is about the 1944 murder of David Kammerer by Lucien Carr, which this article says "helped spawn the Beat generation." Chris Evans will star as Lowell native Jack Kerouac. It's set to come out next year.

  • Maine senator Olympia Snowe is promoting legislation that could lead to the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Brunswick becoming part of the National Parks system. The house, where Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin just before moving to Andover, is currently on the National Register of Historic Places, but it's owned by Bowdoin College and was a dormitory at least as recently as 2003. (Andover's Stowe house is also a dorm for Phillips Academy.)

  • This article traces the origins of the North Shore Children's Hospital. Lydia Pinkham's daughter Aroline Gove was a supporter of what was then called the North Shore Babies' Hospital, as was the Salem journalist Kate Tannant Woods. Gove also founded the Lydia E. Pinkham Memorial Clinic, still in operation as a women's clinic at 250 Derby Street in Salem.

  • Happened across D. H. Lawrence's description of Nathaniel Hawthorne as a romanticist, in Studies in Classic American Literature: "And what’s a romance? Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything As You Like It, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose and it’s always daisy-time… Hawthorne obviously isn’t this kind of romanticist." (via Bookslut)

  • A sonnet by mystical, Shakespeare-obsessed, "divinely inspired" poet Jones Very: "To the Canary Bird"

  • A brief round-up of excerpts from sailor's journals, including Salem's Nathaniel Bowditch, whose book The American Practical Navigator was written in 1802 and is still standard issue aboard all Naval vessels.

  • In his blog about Lowell culture and politics, Richard Howe points to a NYT review of Elinor Lipman's novel The Family Man and mentions that Lipman is a member of the Lowell High School Alumni Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

poetry tour of Gloucester

Looking for a nearby day-trip itinerary? If you have a web-enabled phone, Carl Carlsen's Poetry of Places in Essex County has a mini tour of some Gloucester sites that have inspired poets past and present. Driving directions here.

Poetry of Places in Essex County focuses on the Lynn poets and Gloucester right now, but an update about Nahant—where Longfellow spent many summers with his family—is coming soon.

Prof. Carlsen also recommends contemporary Lynn poet Diane Kendig's latest chapbook, The Places We Find Ourselves, to be published by Finishing Line in July. Kendig was the North Shore Community College's poet in residence in 2007, and her current volume includes Lynn's Egg Rock as one of its many settings.

(Photo of Gloucester's Hammond Castle from herzogbr on Flickr)