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Celia Thaxter: Selected Writings

Edited by Julia Older

Celia Thaxter: Selected Writings

Here for the first time in one volume are substantial excerpts from the major works of Celia Thaxter (1835-1894), one of America's most talented and versatile writers.

The anthology is introduced by an in-depth profile of Celia who grew up on the Isles of Shoals, a cluster of windswept islands nine miles off the Maine / New Hampshire coast. She married her childhood tutor and when the marriage dissolved Thaxter, who by then was a published poet, returned to write on the Shoals.

During the idyllic summers, she invited Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, Childe Hassam, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sarah Orne Jewett, Henry Longfellow and other artistic luminaries to her island cottage. In effect, she had founded the first American artist colony.

Older's compendium contains major excerpts from Thaxter's acclaimed book Among the Isles of Shoals, poems, and sections of Thaxter's now classic An Island Garden. Also included in the anthology are previously unpublished letters, children's stories, and Thaxter's complete true-crime account "A Memorable Murder."


From A Memorable Murder

A terrible piece of rowing that must have been in one night! Truly all nature seemed to play into his hands. This first relenting night of earliest spring favored him with its stillness. The tide was fair. The wind was fair. The little moon gave him just enough light without betraying him to any curious eyes as he glided down the three miles between the river banks in haste to reach the sea. Doubtless the light west wind played about him as delicately as if he had been the most human of God's creatures. Nothing breathed remonstrance in his ear. Nothing whispered in the whispering water that rippled about his inexorable keel, steering straight for the Shoals through the quiet darkness.

 Edited by Julia Older
 $14.50 (317 pp) Quality Trade Paperback
 Appledore Books, 1998
 ISBN 9062716243
 Prompt shipment
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"As she toured bookstores with her novel, teachers kept asking Older where they could find a collection of Thaxter's writings. So Older decided to create one."
-- Quincy Whitney, The Sunday Boston Globe
"I think Mrs. Thaxter's prose admirable."
-- Charles Dickens.
"A remarkable woman's career, from intimate personal letters to her acclaimed Among the Isles of Shoals. The evocative directness of Thaxter's prose makes her work seem fresh more than 100 years after it was written. Julia Older prefaces each section with informative, clearly written essays that detail the events and associations of the author's life."
-- Kevin Gardner, New Hampshire Public Radio.
"Never before have the wonders of our rocky New England seacoast been so musically and tenderly sung about."
-- John Greenleaf Whittier
"A large part of Thaxter's appeal is that she was a writer of place--a place that few had ever seen much less read about."
-- The Boston Sunday Globe
"One of the best bits of writing in Celia Thaxter: Selected Writings is A Memorable Murder. It's a riveting retelling of an actual double murder in sort of In Cold Blood (Truman Capote) fashion."
-- The Keene Sentinel
"It acquaints contemporary readers with a regional literature that for a time was in danger of being lost."
-- The Nashua Telegraph
"A valuable contribution to any 19th century women's collection."
-- Maine Sunday Telegram
Selections are prefaced with comments about what was going on in Thaxter's lifetime as well as information about the publication of the particular book. A Bibliography of Major Works by Celia Thaxter appears at the back with a fascinating list of "What Reviewers Said Then...And Now." The cover art is Childe Hassam's famous Isles of Shoals portrait, "Celia in her Garden," from the Smithsonian National Museum Collection.

This anthology is often ordered as a companion book to Older's novel The Island Queen.

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