Monday, October 15, 2012

Literary Women

There is something about the isolated rocky coast of Maine that breeds creativity, strength, and independence. 

"In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand, there is the story of the earth."
Rachel Carson

On the way to a wedding a few weeks ago, my sister and I stopped at the beautiful little campus of The University of New England to visit the Maine Women Writers Collection - yet another reminder that you just don't appreciate college enough when you are there!

One of my favorite Sarton quotes
(Kim Klassen texture)
 The collection was curated by Cathleen Miller, who was there to welcome us with her enthusiasm and knowledge.

May Sarton Books
(also Klassen textures)

The permanent collection was founded in 1959 and holds over 6000 volumes representing more than 500 women writers including rare and first additions by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sarah Orne Jewett (A Marsh Island 1884), Kate Doudlas Wiggin (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, 1903) and Charlotte Perkins Gilman (The Yellow Wall-paper, 1862). The collection includes personal papers, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia. May Sarton's bookshelves are there, as are Ruth Moore's typewriter and a number of original journals.

The Collection offers grants to writing workshops, sources for independent research and lecture series on  historical preservation of the "literary, cultural and social history" of Maine's women authors.

There was poetry on the walls (December Moon by May Sarton)

There were wonderful old photographs artistically presented, and warm sunny spots to read and work. I particularly enjoyed Rose Marasco's beautiful triptych of Florence Burrill Jacob's photograph, quote and ironing board. It was a perfect expression of the dual roles of creative women. That led me to her website, and especially her portfolio of "domestic tools."

The catalogue is on-line and can be accessed for information and materials at

I have read many of the authors represented, but nevertheless I came home with a long reading list inspired by the spirit of those rugged women who were founders of our liberation (Sara Payson Willis Parton), protectors of our land (Rachel Carson), and champions of our freedoms (Harriet Beecher Stowe). We do well to remember these strong predecessors upon who's shoulders we stand. And what peaceful evenings of reading I've had since, looking through their eyes!

"Read me, do not let me die!
Search the fading letters, finding
Steadfast in the broken binding
All that once was I!"
Edna St. Vincent Millay

(How about posting some light and shadow images of books this week for our feature?)


heyjudephotography said...

Carol, this looks like a lovely place to visit. Your photos of all of the old books are wonderful. I looked at Rose Marasco's website and her street photography is terrific, as well as all of her other portfolios presented there. Thanks for sharing the beautiful place with all of us.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful place you've shared. Intrigued by May Sarton's bookshelves being there. I've long been a huge fan of hers.

Carol said...

Me too. I had forgotten for a while. but now I'm re-reading her and really enjoying it from my life's perspective now. Those are her bookshelves in the last pic.

Carol said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it Judy - it always amazes me how many interests we all have in common

Dotti said...

Wonderful post, Carol, so full of inspiration and information. I'm going to check out Rose Marasco, she sounds so fascinating. One thing is clear: You've convinced me that I must make a return trip to Maine. :-D

And ... last but truly not least ... your photos are heavenly. I can't pick a favorite, I love them all!

terriporter said...

Beautiful photos and perfect texture work, Carol! Maine is a place I've always wanted to visit but you have shown us that it's more than just rugged coastlines and lighthouses. Reading is such a joy in my life and I see here that there are some authors that I need to read or reread. Love that Edna St. Vincent Millay quote!

Viv (modifica) said...

Would love to visit it looks wonderful...

Carol said...

Hi All,

I wanted to let you all know that Rose Marasco offers a full color catalogue of her Domestic Tools portfolio. You can find it here:

Thanks for the kind words - glad you all are enjoying the post.

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

Books were always a way for me to vacation :) What lovely images -- of our wonderful friends.

Some of my favorite models are books! Especially old and well used ones.



kelly said...

beautiful photos - what an inspirational place. i especially loved the handwritten journals. something to think about in this age of technology.

Anonymous said...

Love to browse vintage books and journals! Your photos and quotes are beautiful!

Kim Stevens said...

Just a wonderful post Carol, and the more I see, the more I want to visit that beautiful place of Maine! Loved all your photos!!

Deanna said...

Ahh what a lovely, lovely place to visit and to be inspired by the women of our past. Great post, Carol, and this needs to go on my bucket list!!

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