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unique illustrated presentation copy from Thaxter to Dodge


Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1882

12mo. Original brown cloth blocked in black and gilt. All edges gilt. Tenth edition stated on title. Very fine condition. A CDV portrait of Thaxter, likely sent with this book to Dodge, is mounted at the front. Half morocco case.

Presentation copy inscribed by the author and artist Celia Thaxter: “Mary Mapes Dodge with much love. Illustrated by Celia Thaxter 1882.” Dodge is best known as the author of Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates and as a founding editor of St. Nicholas Magazine. Thaxter provided a poem for the first issue of that children’s magazine and helped to promote it.

A perfect gem of a book illustrated throughout with 33 fine watercolors by Thaxter. They include delicate flowers, spiders, butterflies, feathers, plants, seaweed, landscapes and seascapes, some in the margins and others superimposed upon the text. The colors are rich and fresh, and the pictures are exquisite and detailed.

Thaxter was “perhaps the most widely published woman writing poetry in America during the last half of the nineteenth century” (Vallier, “The Role of Celia Thaxter in American Literary History,” Colby Quarterly, 1981). The beloved New England artist and poet was first published in the Atlantic Monthly. Thaxter became one of the most popular poets of her day thanks to her frequent appearances in the Atlantic and the oft-reprinted collections of poems that followed.

She knew many of prominent literary and artistic figures of the day including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Russell Lowell, John Greenleaf Whittier, Sarah Orne Jewett, William Morris Hunt, and Childe Hassam. An accomplished poet, businesswoman, artist, and journalist, Thaxter continues to be read long after most of her contemporaries have been forgotten.

This lovely volume, presented by Thaxter to Mary Mapes Dodge, embodies vital strands in the poetry and art of nineteenth-century American women.