Skip to main content

tv   American Authors  CSPAN  September 7, 2018 6:21pm-8:01pm EDT

6:21 pm
across the country on our 50 capitals tour, visiting all 50 state capitals. this summer the bus left the mainland and traveled by ferry and honolulu,ska, hawaii. join us with our guest iowa senate president choorls schneider. >> c span's cities tour travels the country exploring the american store rhythm this weekend we take you to the homes of important figures in american literature, seing the places where they write and learning how thees spaces influenced their think, writing and future works. we begin our 90-minute presentuation a visit to writer louisa may alcott's orchard house in concord, massachusetts. >> here we are in concord, massachusetts, on the lexington road, also known as the battle road where the red coats marched
6:22 pm
in to the north bridge on april 19, 1775, starting the american revolution. this house was standing here then. eventually, much, much later than that, it becomes the home of amos bronson alcott and his family. now one of the daughters, louisa may alcott, in this house, writes a book that changes a lot of the way people think about children, the way they think about young women, the way they think about mature women. it was a very progressive book for its day and frankly in many ways today it still remain this is because it's just a simple true to life story of four young women and their parents. mr. alcott was an educator, primarily, in the early days. mrs. alcott was a progressive thinker who was deeply in love with mr. alcott. they were in boston when mr.
6:23 pm
alcott met ralph waldo emmerson and they struck up quite the friendship. emmer sovepb was well ensconced in this town, he thought alcott belonged her. the political revolution in 1775, but it also had a literary revolution in the 1800's. mr. emmerson wanted planson alcott to move here. here in mr. scal alcott's study i wanted to focus on what's above the fireplace. this was an expression of mr. lcott's lifelong belief. he seas are scooped in vain if learning falter vanish from the plain. it's an elaborate way of saying, never stop learning. you're never too young to start and never too old to keep going. that was very, very important. mr. alcott dedicated most of his
6:24 pm
life to education. in the early years he was educating the young and his educational ideas were extremely unusual for the day. it was an era when most teachers were concerned primarily with order in the classroom, they would use the rod, some of the expressions which we find a little funny today must not have been funny to the children. one of them is if a boy is not bad now, he's about to be so go ahead and strike. if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. mr. alcott thought of the rod more like a staff to guy. he would not strike the students he allowed questions in the classroom which was frowned upon by most teachers because that would promote rudeness. the teacher knows what you have to know so why encourage questions he had a lot of difficulty with people getting nervous about the unusual techniques they hadn't heard of. yet the children were learning more and love police department alcott. it was really the right thing, he was just about 100 years
6:25 pm
ahead of his time. his lifelong dream had really been to teach adults as well. and he did find that he could finally do that in this room in 1879. over here we have one of the co-founders of the school of philosophy, that's what bronson alcott chose to call his adult learning opportunity that started in this room in 1879. mr. emmerson once said of bronson alcott that mr. alcott is the foremost genius of our day. these two gentlemen were closest of friends. they walked together just about on a daily basis and they really supported each other in everything. so it is not a surprise that he helped to co-found this concord school of philosophy, as mr. alcott called it. the first year it began in this room but it soon overflowed these walls. people even opened the windows and stood outside so they could
6:26 pm
hear. one of the attendees donated $500, which was a princely sum in those day, and asked that a small lecture hall be built. that's the building up on the hill. many people think it was a barn but it was never a barn, it was always meant to be a very rustic looking structure but a lecture hall. when it comes to finances, the alcotts had a saying that they had the alcott thinking fund. it seems that their finances just got worse and worse and worse. mr. alcott was not always paid very well for what he was doing. it wasn't that he wasn't working hard, it was that he was a little too innovative and sometimes people just didn't appreciate enough what he was doing. one time very poignantly he said, promises were not always kept. my overcoat was stolen, i had to buy a shawl but i've opened up the way, i'll do better another time. he was always trying hard but not necessarily doing well financially. but sometimes it meant that all
6:27 pm
of the women in the household were pitching in in a way that in that era was not considered very ladylike. it was supposed to be the man doing all the earning and the woman just tidying up the house and cooking and cleaning and raising the children. they were really a little bit unusual financially that way. so they were definitely struggling a lot of the time. here we are in the jol jal cots' dining room. of course they took meals here. mrs. alcott's english china was sometimes the service used. this was their best china and the initial m is for her maiden name, may, which is interesting because we have lucie is a -- louisa may, jab gail may, that was not a made up name, that was her maiden name. they were struggling financially a lot of the time and once she
6:28 pm
said, we'll always be a respectful family because we have our fine china. of course she was teasing. she wasn't that serious about it. but she was pleased to have this, it had been in her family. then over in this direction we have some wonderful portraits. this one is particularly interesting of louisa may alcott. now she looks less well in this portrait than she did a few years earlier because she's 38 years old here and she had been in the civil war as a union army nurse, contracted typhus and pneumonia, was treated with heavy doses of calamel which is mercury and today we know that mercury is not good to ingest but back then it was a medication. they thought that the disease was leaving you as you were losing your teeth and your hair an everything else. so she managed to recover from all of this, much to the amazement of many people,
6:29 pm
because others who were as sick as she was did not recover. now, george healy, a very famous portrait artist at that time, learned that the famous ms. alcott was in italy at the same time he was. and "little women" had become an international hit. someone had recently said to me that louisa may alcott in that day was more famous than j.k. rowling. probably because there wasn't as much competition with sports figures and movie stars and such. but she was a huge international sensation. and george healy asked ms. alcott if he could paint her and i say today we're very proud that we have this george healy painting in our dining room, the only other dining room in america that i know of with a george healy in it is the white house where there is a wonderful portrait of abraham lincoln done by george healy. he was in that day the big painter who would be summoned to
6:30 pm
paint presidents. so it was quite an honor that she was painted by mr. healy. however, she was very disappointed. she said i look like a smoky relic from the boston fire. there had been a fire in 1872, it was a terrible disaster in boston. and she just thought that she looked like she'd step right out of that fire. she said we should hang it behind a door. then we have an interesting likeness of elizabeth alcott. she's the actual model for beth in "little women" and the only one whose name does not change in the "little women" account. this is the only likeness we have of her. she's the one who died just before they moved into this house. they spent a whole year fixing this house up, and she came many times she saw the work they were doing. they were excited about, this is going to be the finest home for them. this is the place they lived the longest. and yet she sort of knew because she was so ill that perhaps she would not be living here.
6:31 pm
she even said she thought sleepy hol lome be her new home and indeed that's what happened. if you look at this arch way that leads into the parlor, the girls, even as young women, were still putting on plays as they had done through their early years and they hung a curtain between these two rooms so the dining room portion, with the table moved out of the way, could become their stage. than hay maryland -- and they had many wonderful sets and scenery and costumes, they worked hard on these. the audience would sit here. and in "little women" toward the beginning of the book, the girls are going to put on a play as a christmas present. it's going to be called "rodrigo," that's a play louisa did write, she played the role of rodrigo, they performed it right in that dining room. at one point in "little women" t talks about the audience
6:32 pm
sitting on a cot that collapses. it was always louisa, like jo in the book, saying, act like nothing is wrong. she throveed dramatic impulse. i think that shows in her writing today. that her early experience with these plays, these dramas with her sisters, helped inform her writing style. louisa loved making up stories. she often made them up just out loud when they walked along. taking a walk in the area around walden pond with henry david thoreau. but she would also record a lot of these things and do a lot of writing as well. she was probably writing almost every day. she loved it. it was a relief for her as well, an outlet. she didn't have a tremendous amount of success at first but she had some success almost from the beginning in the sense that
6:33 pm
she had short stories and poems published early on. and i think that was enough to keep her going. now at one juncture when she was met ng in boston and she with a famous publisher, she showed him some of her writing, he told her, stick to your teaching, ms. alcott, you can't write. that really made her more determine. she kept going. much, much later after "little women" had been published, she paid him back a loan that he'd kindly given her to help with the establishment of her first school and she said with all due respect, i think i shall stick to my writing as it pays rather better than my teaching. she really did come full circle and became obviously a big inancial success eventually.
6:34 pm
now coming up to the second floor, we have the parents' bedroom. may alcott, the youngest sister, who was amy in the book, her bedroom, and then this room, it is the most popular, the most important to most people, is where louisa may alcott wrote "little women." this is her bed chamber. she originally shared it with in the is called meg story. this is where at a little half-moon desk, build for louisa by her father, she sat and penned "little women." now one thing i think is very important to note is that in that era, it was commonly thought that brain work such as writing was -- would ruin a woman's health. doctors had written articles
6:35 pm
that they had now proven this. and even if you weren't concerned medically, people just thought it wasn't seemly for a woman to write seriously, to write for a publication. it was fine to write letters but you know, this was something you should reserve for the men. the fact that louisa's family supported her in this way was quite amazing. and the building of this desk was more than a convenience, it was a wonderful support, psychologically, for louisa may alcott. louisa's mother was equally important, she made her a scribbling suit and a cap she could pull down when she needed to concentrate. mrs. alcott also gave louisa a pen and wrote a note with the pen that said, may this pen your muse inspire when wrapped in pure poetic spire. so she had wonderful support from her family. now, "little women" was a simple story to louisa.
6:36 pm
it was the family story. she didn't really think much would come of it when she first sent it off to the publishers but she made note in the journal that they had really lived most of it and if it would succeed that would be the reason. well, her publisher looked at it and didn't think much of it but he gave it to his niece who loved it. who loved it more than anything she'd ever written. so the publisher decided, well, we'll go with this. and conservatively started off with a very small number but that first edition was about 2,500 books, sold out very fast. and then of course more copies were printed. and people then, as now, might have been a little surprised. such a simple story. but it was way ahead of its time in many ways and yet it walked a fine line between leading people into more progressive thought, such as the idea that a woman could be independent, that a woman could have ideas of her
6:37 pm
own, that she could have a temper and not be considered the villain of the piece. all of these human qualities that women were often sort of told to suppress came out in the person of jo march and has been of course in the person of louisa may alcott all along. and the family wasn't perfect at all. they all had flaw they struggled in many ways, and yet they supported each other. they loved each other, they went on. they never felt sorry for themselves and sat around and said, well, i guess i'm such a for the do well i can't do anything. they kept going. this is a very inspiring role model for people who read this book, especially young women for whom it was really intended. "little women" succeeded beyond louisa's wildest imaginings. it made her really a superstar of the day. now, this of course changed everything, partially because her very honest publisher, his name was thomas niles of robert
6:38 pm
brothers publishers, pthalater become little brown, thomas advised her to keep the copyright. that was wonderful advice because she could really make money on the book. she became quite wealthy by the standards of the day. probably think of her almost like a millionaire today. that of course made the family very comfortable. it allows all the debts to be repaid. they could then feel at ease in that regard. and she -- louisa was so generous she was always doing kindnesses for others. if someone needed something and she could do it, she often would be helping others. in much the same way they had been helped when she was young. particularly by ralph waldo emmerson, a close family friend. he was always slipping a $10 bill under a table cloth, trying to make sure they didn't see, that they'd find it later and not be able to say, you put that there. he was always trying to help
6:39 pm
them. louisa took note of that and tried to do the same. she made a difference in everyone's life who was near her. the literary history of concord is so multifaceted and depending upon one's interest you could easily just by pass an author's home because you can read the books, but there's something about this particular book and this particular house that is unique in the sense that as far as i know it is the only piece of literature that not only has maintained its importance to so many people, never been out of print, widely translated, well over 50 translations, very beloved by people of all cultures, and it was written and set in a house that is now open to the public. when people walk through this house they often will say to me, it's like walking through the book. someone once said, it's as if you could go to hogwarts after you read harry potter but
6:40 pm
hogwarts is not a real place and this is. >> born in asheville, north carolina, thomas wolfe -- fertalizes his immortalizes his hoe taun in "look homeward angel." we have a tour of the home he lived in. >> thomas clayton wolfe, born october 3, 1900 in asheville, north carolina, today considered to be north carolina's most famous author, he's probably one of the most famous authors of the early part of the mid 209 century. he published two novels and a book of short stories in his short life, we are sitting today
6:41 pm
in his childhood home. thomas wolfe immedical report amized the house in his first book "look homeward angel," published in october 1929. so today we're in the home where an author spent formative years then put on the map. thomas wolfe was born october 3, 1900 in asheville. there were some 14,000 people living in the city at the time. it was a boomtown. it gained notoriety as a recreational resort, a health resort. the railroad had come in 1880, that's going to bring lots of people to asheville. thomas was born the youngest of eight children to william oliver wolfe and his mother julia elizabeth westhof.
6:42 pm
they were both prominent citizens of asheville. his father, william oliver wolfe, owned a stone shop. he was a carver, marble, a monument and tombstone shop in the central part of downtown asheville. his mother, third generation mountain girl, born in 186 , and she was an -- in 1860. she was an enterprising young woman for her day a businesswoman. they purchased the house in 1906, already a boarding house. she's aspiring to go into the boarding house business. the previous owner of the house had family from kentucky and the boarding house was called old kentucky home and you'll see that we still hang the old kentucky home sign on the porch today. it was a well established boarding house. there may have been up to some
6:43 pm
19 borders living in the house when julia wolfe purchased it. she's going to charge them $1 a bayday to stay there and that comes with a breakfast and supper meal as well. her husband helps her to go into the business. she's going to move into this house in august of 1906 to operate the boarding house. thomas was not quite 6 years old when his mother moved into this house. he's the baby of the family. she'll insist that the baby of the family come to the house with her. he very much resented his experience here. you'll see that come out in his fiction in "look homeward angel." his father calls the house the murderous bloody barn. it's cold here, full of strangers. thomas wolfe resented being separated from his father's home
6:44 pm
and his other siblings to live in a house where strangers were coming and going all the time. thomas wolfe called it the house of death and tu multi. in "look homeward angel," sickness is a big theme in the book. asheville was a health resort, known as a place for people to come recover from lung ailments. there were some 16 sanitariums in asheville by the time world war i gets under way. for decades, loads of sick people had come to asheville by train to find hospitals. where are you going to stay while you wait to get into a hospital room? in one of the local boarding houses. many of the boarding houses were advertised, no sick people allow. but thomas wolfe writes if you had a little cough and some cash, julia would find you a
6:45 pm
place to stay. the border experience in the house would have had multiple beds, metal beds, very common in lodging facilities and hospitals. the metal bed is affordable. easy to move. easier to keep clean than the cumbersome wood beds of the day. when you're renting from julia wolfe, you're renting a pillow and a piece of a sheet. sharing mattresses still common in our country so you could lay down in that bed to sleep early one evening and wake up next to someone you've never seen here before. thomas wolfe described having to move from room to smaller room. he said he didn't even have a blanket here that he could call his own. that he wouldn't have to give up to a border -- a boarder newly arrived in the house. he resents having to do chores in the house that he knows won't benefit him or the strangers that he's been brought here to live with.
6:46 pm
julia is going to sacrifice her family and their privacy in order to operate this business. thomas wolfe's father encouraged julia to go into this business, helped her get established in the house. he comes to resent it very quickly. you left my room and board to live with a bunch of strangers. thomasle with ofe's father was a spree drinker. so thomas wolfe writes about his father being an alcoholic and tom's father would have too much to drink and he would come staggering up to this house from the family home cursing the boarders and cursing julia for having left the family home. you get the impression that his mother is so busy here running the boardinghouse that she no longer has time for thomas wolfe and that's part of the resentment he holds against his
6:47 pm
family and his life here in the house, his lack of privacy here. and the social stigma of not living in a traditional family home. he describes his father's home as a place of warmth and abundance and this house, the murderous, bloody bash. his father's home was just two blocks down the hill from here and his sister, who had become the surrogate housewife in the father's home, always left the door open for him and young thomas wolfe is always sneaking down the hill back to his father's house and there will be his mother julia on the telephone calling down there to send that boy back, there's chores to be done here. part of the story that he tells autobiographical fiction , he spent a lot of time in the library in asheville downtown. the local pry lye brarne tell his family that that little boy
6:48 pm
is reading more than any other child in western north carolina. he goes to the library every day after school. of course the librarian doesn't realize that he's avoiding coming back to this house every afternoon. but tom's father's friends are saying look, that boy reads so much, he's certainly going to be a lawyer someday. so his father will invest in sending tom to a private prep school. his father has a vision of the wolfe name spreading east across the state and that someday tom will be the governor of north carolina. you can imagine the that when he graduated from university north carolina chapel hill with a degree in english and came home and said papa, i've decided i'd like to write plays, and i'd like to go to harvard next far while please. nobody in the wolfe family understands that.
6:49 pm
there's no such thing as a writer from asheville, north carolina. certainly isn't real work writing. so thomas wolfe is in a quandary the summer he graduates. it's time for him to go to work. his mother saw him in agony that summer and she said, son, if it's that important to you, i'm going to let you try harvard. she said for a year. and julia wolfe gave thomas the money at age 19, he boarded a train and went north alone for he first time in his life. this is the second story of the old kentucky home. you'll find that there are multiple bedrooms here. julia added three sleeping porches to the house in 1916. and she pushed the house out toward the sides and toward the back to add multiple bedrooms.
6:50 pm
thomas wolfe wrote about a dark, bleak room upstairs at the front of this house with an ugly victorian bay window in it. this is the room where thomas wolfe's favorite brother ben died in october of 1918. thomas wolfe had a special bond with his brother ben. ben was the one who had practically raised him. he was 8 years old -- he was eight years older, he would come in the morning and dress tom for school, protect him from bullies. julia is so busy here she doesn't know where tom is for days on end. when she forgets tom he doesn't eat. it's ben who realizes and who takes tom downtown to a diner for a piece of mincemeat pie and cup of coffee and in "look homeward angel," thomas wolfe
6:51 pm
writes about ben, benjamin gantz, bit we are his family. he says the wolfes never gave their children any opportunities in life. he said their parents would say but they do. ney, he said tom get as much out of these thrifty people as you possibly can. get your education and get away from this house as quickly as possible. in october of 1918, we see that thomas wolfe has succeeded in getting away from this house and his tumultuous family. he's at college, he's thriving at chapel hill, writing for the student magazine. joining fraternities. and he gets a telegram to come home, ben has pneumonia. and he has no idea that he's
6:52 pm
about to come back to this room and watch ben die. n had contracted the spanish influenza, a flu pandemic that swept the world and killed millions of people. a virus that doesn't just take the young and elderly it takes guys like ben who is 25. thomas wolfe wrote he didn't understand. ben was the sort of guy who deserved the best in life and he was someone who had got nothing from it. but in death, it is the victorian tradition and wolfe will satirize it in "look womeward angel," the wolfes spare no expense they buy ben a fine funeral. thomas wolfe wrote ben got more from his family in death than he had in his life. thomas wolfe's first book "look
6:53 pm
homeward angel" was published in 1929 not long before the stock market would crash. for a first-time author it did well. probably sold 15,000 copies in its first run and quickly went into a second run. then the second run doubled the sales of the first run of the book. and pretty soon the publisher will allow the book to be printed in a modern library edition. as a result, never out of print in its entire history. "loom homeward angel" will launch thomas wolfe onto the american literary scene. though the house is called old kentucky home, it's boarding house brand. in his book he called it dixieland and called the city of asheville altamot. his family, w.o. wolfe becomes
6:54 pm
w.o. gantt. his mother julia elizabeth becomes eliza gantt in "look homeward angel." at the back corner of the house is a very special room. this is the room where thomas wolfe's father lived for the last five years of his life. while he's not moved in here with julia in 1906, he's going to stay in his own house , he had built it with his own hands, he was nine years older than julia and by 1917 he's not well and the family moved him to this room for extra care and he lived here for the last five years of his life. thomas wolfe was at harvard at this time. and in 1922 he is going to get a telegram to hurry home. and unfortunately, the train didn't bring him quickly enough. sadly , he got off the train down the mountain near old fort to buy the morning paper and at
6:55 pm
the station and he'll read that his father had passed away at midnight before he could get back home. in his second book, "time in the river" he wanted to write about the death of his father but his editor, max perkins, wants him to focus only on things that are seen through the eyes of the main character in the book who in essence, eugene gantt is thomas wolfe in the book. and max perkins and thomas wolfe struggle over that second book. they spend a whole year, perkins would take material out, thomas wol -- ask thomas wolfe to write a couple of sentence transition between the cut part and the other part of the book. and wolf would go home, write 1,000 more words and bring them in the next day. the scene about the death of his father is a great example of
6:56 pm
that it's seen through the eyes of tom's sister and it was so beautifully written that tom's editor just gave up and said we'll just keep this in the book. eliza, this is tom's father speaking, he said, and at the sound of that unaccustomed word a name he'd spoken only twice in 40 years, her white face and warm brown eyes turn toward him with a quick and startled look of an animal. eliza, he said quietly. you have had a hard life with me. a hard time. i want to tell you that i'm sorry. and before she could move from her white stillness of shocked surprise , he lifted his great right hand and put it gently down across her own and for a moment she sat there, bolt upright, shaken, frozen with a look of terror in her eyes, and suddenly these few words of
6:57 pm
regret and affection did what all the violence, abuse, drunkenness, and injury of 40 years had failed to do. she wrenched her hand free like a wounded creature, her face was suddenly contorted by the grotesque and pitiful grimace of sorrow that women have had in moments of grief since the beginning of time. "look homeward angel" is one of the rites of passage stories. i like to say it's a story about a young man who, against great odds, wants to become an artist. and in order to do that, he's got to escape his tumultuous family and this house and get an education. and then -- many of us have tumultuous family live, a lot of people could connect to thomas wolfe when it was first published. but it's a very autobiographical fiction. today there's over 200 characters in the book that we
6:58 pm
can connect to people that thomas wolfe knew as a boy and much for alent for -- ms. playwrighting experience, of picking out an awkward trait and amplifying it he told some secrets which you shouldn't do in a small southern town and although the book sold very well in asheville as the people were reading the book they began to believe that they were seeing themselves and their neighbors and people carried "look homeward angel" around and circumstance they would character names and wrote who they thought the real person was in the margins. thomas wolfe said he got death threats from the first book he said one lady he knew his entire life sent him a letter saying against she was linching law, she would not
6:59 pm
interfee as they dragged his carcass across the square. so thomas wolfe is not coming home again for almost eight years. his family was caught by surprise. he had come home in september of 1929 and his editor, maxwell perkins at scribner and sons, told him to alert his family to what was in the book. thomas wolfe didn't seem to have the courage to do that. and when the book came out, his family was shocked. a little bit angered. his siblings were very upset. but his mother will finally say, as long as he's a success at something, we're going to stand behind him. we believe this is the last room that thomas wolfe will ever sleep in in this house. it was in may of 1937. when "look homeward angel" was printed. thomas wolfe can't go home again
7:00 pm
and it's going to be almost eight years before he returns when he does, he sneaks in on a bus at night in the dark. he is not sure what kind of reception he is going to get from the citizens of asheville. he finds that he is welcomed home with hospitality. by 1937 thomas wolfe is a rock star. his second book had sold very well. he had many short stories in print and major american magazines. his books are in the multiple languages overseas. who were angry with thomas wolfe in 1929, most of them are ok now. peopleere are eight sitting downstairs waiting to speak with him, the phone is ringing off the hook.
7:01 pm
thomas wolfe learns that you can't go home again. the newspapers are out on the front porch. somes wolf wanted to get writing done here but he finds that there are too many interruptions and he will have to escape his mother's home one last time. he did return to the area in the summer of 1937 and stayed in a cabin outside of asheville. again, he found that he got no peace. people would walk up the road to the cabin saying they had lost their dog and happened to have a gallon of moonshine with them. wolfe was a very hospitable person, he would invite them in and the next thing he knew he did not get a days work done again. thomas wolfe will go back to new york where he lived for 12 years of his adult life.
7:02 pm
he is working on a third novel. trying exhaust himself to write the third book and will never finish it. by the summer of 1938 he has a 2 milliont that is 1. words. he has written 10 novels already but he is scared to death. he just wants one that will get past the cruel critics of that time. . he took a break, handed it to his editor and went west researching for his new book. he wound up with the flu in seattle in the summer of 1938. it turned into pneumonia with a cop so severe that it broke open the tubercular region of his lungs. he died 18 days short of his 38th birthday, leaving behind a
7:03 pm
which is editor will take and carve into three more books, published after his death. he had lived in this house for 39 years until she passed away in 1945. when she passed away, thomas' surviving brothers and sisters will look for opportunities to see the house becomes a memorial. with the help of the local chamber of commerce, the house becomes a memorial in 1949. opportunity for us not to tell only about the life and works of thomas wolfe but also to capture a very special piece of asheville history. muchritings were based so
7:04 pm
on that. we see asheville during his childhood. it is very much a special opportunity for our visitors to come here. next, we travel to poland, maine, to visit the boyhood home poet had week -- henry wadsworth longfellow. best known for his poems palm -- paul revere's ride. often i think of the beautiful town. often i go up and down the pleasant streets of that town and my youth comes back to me. longfellow was an american poet in the 19th century. alive and writing probably the most famous english language writer in the world, if not the most famous person in the world.
7:05 pm
today he is probably best remembered for poems like paul revere's ride, the children's hour, he is still very much a part of our everyday lexicon and american memory. henry wadsworth longfellow was born in portland, maine on february 20 seventh, 1807. he grew up here and it is where he started writing. after he as an adult left portland and left maine, he still came back all the time. he found inspiration in the city, in his childhood home. it was very much a special place to him and a source of his poetry. longfellowadsworth home was always owned by the families. 1786.t the house in and his own parents lived here through their debts. the last person to live in the
7:06 pm
house was henry's sister. she died here in 1901. upon her death, she left the house and everything in it to maine historical society. as far as what you see in the wadsworth longfellow house is original to the family, the figure i have been quoted is a 94%. in other words, almost all of it. there are a few places in the house where we have to fill in some gaps. things that may have been lost over the years. almost everything that you are looking at has a personal connection to the house and to the people who live here. ll ofis the front ha the house where the guests would have come in. as guests, they probably would have been taken into the family parlor. this was the most formal room of the house. it was where they kept their finest furniture. was, more often than not
7:07 pm
really for special occasions. sometimes somber occasions like oferals, but also a lot happy occasions like weddings. henry's parents were married in this room in 1804. later, two of henry sisters also celebrated their weddings in this parlor. looking down on all this important activity from a place of honor just over the fireplace is an engraving of george washington that we are told has been in that spot since 1802. was a very popular figure in early 19th-century america. hugeuldn't have been a surprise to find his likeness in any american home. the wadsworth's and the longfellow's were proud that they had a personal connection to the first president through henry's grandfather. the man who built this house, he was a general during the american revolution. he actually knew george
7:08 pm
washington. the moment that he is best remembered for during the war was his role in the expedition in 1779. wasmassachusetts militia anxious to get the british out of maine. ground forcest of and naval forces to that area. grandfather was kind of second in command to the ground forces. he was in charge of the artillery -- in charge of the artillery and that expedition was paul revere. the expedition ended in a horrible defeat for the americans. it was the worst naval defeat in american history until pearl harbor. paul revere was made a something of a scapegoat for everything that went wrong. henry'swas all over, grandfather said that part revere had not obeyed in order
7:09 pm
that he had given. paul revere was not remembered by a lot of the men with him at the expedition very fondly. he is remembered sort of as arrogant and not easy to work with. he is brought up on charges after it is all over. even for a while, placed under house arrest. thatrevere would demand court-martial's clear his name, which it did. talking it was 1782 or 1783. the american revolution was coming to an end. people really did not care much anymore, they were worried about paul revere. his reputation was really ruined forever. he falls in tube security for a long time. r generations, nobody knew who paul revere was. in 1861, henry wadsworth longfellow, on the eve of the civil war, decides to write a
7:10 pm
poem in which he makes paul revere the star and makes him the hero. we are counting how paul revere mounted his horse and rode through the countryside to warn his fellow patriots that the british were marching for lexington and concorde. the problem was probably henry's way of warning his fellow new englanders that we are on the eve of war again. our grandparents were ready when the call came 80 years ago, we will have to be ready when it comes again. revere out ofaul any of the other figures he might have chosen is not really known. we don't think his grandfather ever talked to henry about part of your. we don't know that he talked to him about the war at all. that interesting to note henry's grandfather would have seen part of your remembered in
7:11 pm
a very different way from the way his grandson would have him remembered. henry started to show an interest in becoming a writer at a very young age. he published his first poem when he was 13 years old. he wrote it here at this house. after he graduated from bowdoin would've been about 18 or 19 years old. he told his father that is what he wants to do. he wanted to be a writer. i think he always knew that was his dream, that was his passion. this room was the family's dining room and sitting room. a place where they want entertaining company in the parlor, they might gather to relax. henry's father, stephen longfellow used this space as his law office. for a time, he practiced out of the house. he also had a small waiting room
7:12 pm
added on to the house for his clients to use. andclients could come in entrance and wait for stephen here without interrupting the day of the rest of the family. we know that when henry was young, he looked -- he likes to sit back here and right. maybe this was a space where he found some privacy away from the eyes of his brothers and sisters, his parents, his aunt, in any case he liked to sneak back here for some alone time to do some writing. when henry was about 19 years old, his father had moved the law office out of the house and henry's mother decided to turn the space into a china closet, which had him feeling a little put out. he would say in a letter, i basically have not been able to write a thing since the vandals
7:13 pm
crossed the rubicon into the sanctorum of the little room and turned into a china closet. mother,alking about his but it shows us just how important this space really was to henry even as he grew up. henry's poetry, his first big commercial success is probably iline.eline -- evangil about the canadian expulsion out of canada and the maritime british in the 1700s. big was followed by other hits if you will. paul revere's ride, the original title was the landlord's tail. it is from the anthology.
7:14 pm
one of the things they have in common is a romantic style. sort of an epic storytelling if you will. i mentioned were inspired by actual historical events, or actual historical figures. henry, for his own purposes, might have changed or taken some ofl license with two kind suit his needs or suit the expectations of his audience. those were some of the ones he is best known for. that is still to this day. had and continues to have a very real influence on how america imagines its origins as a nation. at the back of the hall and to the left was the family's summer dining room. side of the house faces
7:15 pm
north, it is a little cooler back here for eating in the summertime. today this room is referred to as the rainy day room. it is believed that in this room and at that very desk henry wrote his poem, the rainy day. the palm is not one of henry's better remembered in 2017, but people quoted all the time. m has just three stanzas, he conceded the day is very dark and dreary. it is raining, the wind is blowing. every time the wind blows the dead it leaves are falling from the trees. in the second stanza he says that is how he feels, his life is very dark and dreary and the hopes of his youth like the leaves of falling off the trees are falling all around him. he starts astanza
7:16 pm
slightly more hopeful tone. behind the clouds is the sun still shining by faye is the common fate of all. some days are dark and dreary. into every life a little rain must fall and made its way into our everyday lexicon. it made its way into that poem. heelswrote the poem on it of a lot of loss in his personal right -- personal life. in a span of about a year, his sister ellen died, she was 16 years old. then, not long after her passing, his brother-in-law, died., they were classmates and were very good friends. that same year, henry lost his first wife, mary while they were traveling abroad. i think when he sits down to write the rainy day it is
7:17 pm
probably his way of responding to that grief. we know that henry, whenever he was visiting his childhood home, he would often stay in this bedroom. after he married his second wife we know that they came here for a visit and that they stayed in this very room. still sitting on the table and here is henry's traveling writing desk. this piece is like a precursor to the laptop, it is hinged in the middle and. into a nice box so you can transport it easily. we know that henry wrote part of his poem evangeline on this writing desk. it still has a very tangible reminder of the work that he did. i would say too of how famous and well traveled he was. his fame as a writer took him all over the world. he found inspiration all over the world. it was important for him to have so thats that he needed
7:18 pm
he could always be writing and creating no matter where he was. wouldhenry left maine come back at least typically once a year. he wouldn't really become well known as a writer until the the civil50's, after war he certainly would have been more physically recognizable with the advent of photography. we know it his home in cambridge, massachusetts, whenever he left the house to talk refers would come out of their studios asking to take his picture. he by all accounts was a very nice man so he would oblige. there are lots of photographs that still exist of henry longfellow. ining back to his hometown his middle-age and into his final years, he would have certainly been a very recognizable figure. henry wadsworth longfellow died
7:19 pm
in 1882. his sister would be living in this house about another 15 years. i think she probably imagined not too long after henry's death and that this might be a place for the public to come and see. when she made that decision in the years before she died, she literally said it is the right thing to do. it would be right to leave it to the public to enjoy. 1885, formermer of president ulysses s grant is fighting cancer as he works on his memoirs. his cottagel tour on mount mcgregor, just outside of saratoga springs, new york. where he spent the last months of his life writing while he races against the disease that will take his life. >> when grant arrived at the
7:20 pm
overlook, and here he is, very ill, only a few days left before he passes away. great beauty, this value that once saw conflict and bornre and wary nation was . this was a peaceful valley where farmers are working. he must have taken some satisfaction that he was a part of the great american story. inare on mount mcgregor upstate new york, only a few saratoga springs. this was the final home of the civil war general and president ulysses s. grant. grants where it was used penned his memoirs in 1885. he was dying of throat cancer
7:21 pm
and his family was facing serious financial problems. at this point in his life, he was a man trying to take care of his family. we get to tell a story here that most people do not know about. after his second term as president, ulysses s. grant and his wife julia went on a world tour for two years. many world leaders, he was well respected around the world. when they arrived back in the states they were looking for a place to settle, because they came out of the white house two years earlier. , it was always an easy decision, even though they owned multiple properties, the decision for granted because he was always a devoted family man was to be close to family. he chose new york city where his two sons were living. they moved into a home in the
7:22 pm
andr east side of manhattan their children lived nearby. they enjoyed a few years out of the limelight. enjoying the winters in it new york city's with family and summers at their new jersey cottage. when grants arrived back from his world tour was in need of income, which is a head scratcher for most people. he was a general and a president and people wonder why he did not have a pension of any kind. it turns out he given up his military pension to take the presidency. at the end of his presidency, there was no pension at that time. he was making his own way in the world, he had spent a lot money on the world tour. his son, they called him buck, had gotten involved in wall street investments. he got his father involved in they formed a firm with a man
7:23 pm
named ferdinand ward. investments went well for a while. veryarly 1880's were a comfortable time, money was coming in from the firm. everything really started to collapse in the final year of grants life. he had a slip and a fall on an icy sidewalk. ofly in 1884, in the spring 1884 he arrived at the office of grant and ward and found out there was a major financial crisis. forad to get a loan $150,000 to try and keep the firm afloat. he brought the money to the business partner who had been doing the books and thought maybe this would help the firm survive. in fact, he found out soon afterwards that ward was actually a crook and he had been
7:24 pm
running essentially a ponzi scheme. t familyid grant t like a bombshell. they invested heavily into the firm. the whole family had. they had to find a way to make money. grant felt personally responsible. he encouraged family and others to invest. even though he was a victim he felt personally responsible and want to pay back his debts. were in a difficult financial situation. out tocked up and moved the new jersey cottage for the summer of 1884 to figure out what they were going to do for the future to rebuild their lives financially. grant was approached by a century magazine at this time, a big magazine company to write some articles. grant had been pestered to be an
7:25 pm
author for many years and always resisted because other people had written about him and he did not think he would be much of an author, he was a modest man. most of all, he did not need the money. they knew they had him in a corner because he needed the money. they offered him $500 per article. enough to keep the family afloat. articlesrted writing about the civil war in the summer of 1884 at the new jersey cottage. that is when his writing career began. that was the way to bring in some money. there was going to have to be a larger work of literature to be able to bring his family out of the debt they were in. started his writing career kind of shaky. his first article was seen as report.a dry military the editor went so far as to
7:26 pm
remark that essentially it might be the second disaster of shiloh because it was on the battle of shiloh and this might be the second disaster of shiloh. it was a poorly written article. interestingly enough, this editor came down to visit grant at the new jersey cottage and talked with him freely. he said would you tell me a little bit about the civil war, so he started talking and telling him stories and anecdotes of the civil war. he told grant, that is the material people want to read. grant really came into his own as an author in the summer of 1884. by the end of the summer he started to have an idea that maybe this writing career could produce some more money for his family. writer on the same time, century magazine was ready to make a push to get him to write a larger book that could be sold. thementury magazine told -- told him they would publish it and he ended up starting to
7:27 pm
work on it as they went back to the new york city home for the winter of 1884-1885. writing was working on his articles during the summer from 1884. he ended up starting to have this pain. it started with a very bad staying in the back of his throat that he felt that he was eating a peach. he kind of shrugged it off as maybe being a wasp or something that was on the fruit when he ate it. it kept coming back. he ignored it because his doctor was away and he really wanted to see his regular doctor. he just ignored it and said he would see his doctor in the fall essentially. they didn't think much of it, he had been a smoker since the civil war. maybe it was just smoker's throat was when i called at the time. he continued working with his
7:28 pm
writing career until the fall of 1884 when he finally went to the doctor, when they moved back to new york city. up going to his regular doctor who knew there was a serious problem as soon as he looked at his throat. throat him to a specialist, dr. john douglas. and dr.into the office douglas took a look at his throat and grant looked at douglas's face and said is a cancer? unfortunately the doctor had to tell them it was cancer. grant worked on his memoirs throughout the winter of 1884-1885. of 1885, itspring was really touch and go. he had a couple of near-death fixed. says. doctors believe the only way he would survive long enough to finish his book was to get him out of the city.
7:29 pm
hugh the get to a mountaintop environment, that was what they did with ailing people in that time. they were looking for opportunities, a friend of the family approach the doctors and the grant family to offer them use of his cottage that he just purchased on the top of not mcgregor, just above saratoga springs. the cottage that mr. drexel offered to the grants was fairly modest in size. it had six rooms upstairs and a few rooms downstairs. it had originally been a small inn built by the first owner. to accommodate the expansion of the resort in the early 1880's. expanded to the point where there was a 100 room hotel just above the cottage.
7:30 pm
the whole property was turned into a big victorian wilderness resort you can call it. it was a mound top wilderness resort with wonderful overlooks and obviously wonderful air. there was one advertisement that hateif we don't hear your fever, at your stay is free -- hay fever, your stay is free. the day grant arrived, it was incredibly hot. it was very difficult. and he got off the train came up to the cottage, he immediately got changed and came and the on the porch mountain air, the cool air of the mountains really seems to revive him. it seemed to have a good effect on him right away. tot importantly, he was able
7:31 pm
be with his entire family here at the cottage. we will head into grant's bedroom. this is where he would have come in from the outdoors. one thing that is missing here is a dead -- a bed. unfortunately, because of his condition, he ended up having to sleep sitting up in these chairs here. this is where he would work on the memoirs when the bugs chased him in or the heat. is also where his nurses or his doctors, he had three doctors on call and two nurses who would administer any medicine or tried to get him some new richmond -- nourishment. it was hard for him to eat. see ourthese items you original but were provided for the grant family by mr. drexel.
7:32 pm
did comeirs actually up from new york city with the grant's. he rode up from new york city in these. because mr. drexel left this to 's son a memorial, grant fred left his personal belongings here. we have some personal belongings that show grant was here and he was at home here. that he went through some very tough times here as well. we have this food bowl, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, stockings, his clothing, the beaver hat he was wearing. we also have the food mashing equipment used to process his food so he could try to take some nourishment. what is really interesting that we have in this room is grant's or original medicine is still
7:33 pm
here. the bottle with the original liquid. what theye guess that were using for medication is something like morphine or some heavy sedative like that. the only problem was that grant could not take medicine like was just too powerful and he would not be able to concentrate on working on his book. newdoctor settled on a substance at the time, it was cocaine. what you see in the bottle was actually cocaine. they would apply it on his throat to give him a little bit of pain relief so he could keep concentrated on network of finishing the book for the sake of his family. arrived, this man was internationally famous, the train car behind his family's train car was the press corps. when they found out grant was they in march of 1885,
7:34 pm
followed him up to the mountain and camped out across from the cottage. they would run up to the hotel and send the telegraph wires down to new york city. they also opened the hotel balmoral early that year. they opened it when the grants arrived, june 16. people new grants was here, he was in the papers every day. he was a spectacle you could say. the onlycret service, person that volunteered was a civil war veteran about the same age as grant. he was a local civil war veteran, he volunteered and they put a tent up for him behind the cottage. he ended up being grant's bodyguard. he stood at the stairs near where grant sat. he would tell people to move along and guarantee grants
7:35 pm
privacy. his job difficult, he was such a friendly manner that these folks who are passing nearby, he would always tipped his hat and wave. he was very friendly. that is one thing about grant, he was a very unassuming man. no matter how much money he had or fame, it never changed him. he was a simple man. very approachable and all times. sam actually got frustrated. 's oldest son, could you tight your father to be a little less friendly. it makes my job difficult. sam went to fred, fred went to his father and told him the situation. i think what grant said next shows his true character. he said i don't want to be exclusive, let them come. 1884, there was a bit of a buzz in the literary
7:36 pm
community about grant writing a book. one of the people that was interested in publishing the book, other than century magazine that had already made clemens, was a samuel better known as his pen name, mark twain. he just started his own rm and selffi published "huckleberry finn." he shows up at the grand household, he is been a casual friend and shows up at the household in new york city in the fall of 1884. just as he was starting his memoirs. he asks the general, could i take a look at your contract? , ilooks and says later on didn't know whether to laugh or cry, it was the worst contract i had ever seen. it was only offering about 10% of the profits. is totally inappropriate for a man of your stature. firm, iot a publishing
7:37 pm
cannot reach 70% of the profit, and incredibly generous offer. especially for a man that was known to be ill. grant was reluctant at first, a very honorable man. he said well century magazine came to me first. that is when twain's and a's pocket. if you remember a conversation a few years ago, i asked you to write your memoirs then. he eventually did go with twain's offer, it was impossible to refuse. mark twain had his nephew in law running his publishing firm co.ed charles webster and came upcharles webster with a plan to sell the memoirs door to door, instead of selling them in bookstores. they would arrive and take preorders door-to-door. one of the things mark twain provide civilas
7:38 pm
war veterans the ability to be salesman. on theirsk them to uniforms and go door-to-door. grant was a celebrity, having him writing the book was good for sales but obviously having a civil war veteran come up to the door helps to sell them as well. it was door to door sales, there was many thousands of sales engaged in this all across the country. it gave them away to make money for themselves and also to support their old commander in his final hours. fewn came to the cottage a weeks before grant passed away. it was an important meeting. twain was checking on the progress of the book. four grant, the most important thing was to find out how well it was selling. he knew time was short and he wanted to find out if the book would be a success. that was when twain was able to
7:39 pm
tell him it proudly that i have already presold 100,000 copies and i have not even came just two thirds of the country. grants new at least going to his ofve that here taking care his family. by the time he reached the cottage, mark twain believe that the second volume of his book, of his memoirs was completed. grant was a perfectionist, he still had writing in him, as long as he was alive he would keep writing. he wrote at least another chapter to his book. it was a struggle right to the very end. he wanted the book to be as good as possible. no matter what his physical condition, he always tried to work on the memoirs. some days he could not get out of bed physically. it andays, he worked on wrote 30 or 40 pages in a single day.
7:40 pm
be memoirs would eventually 1200 pages and almost 300,000 words. for was a major project someone who would have been in good condition, maybe an expert writer. to have somebody struggling with cancer, this was a heroic effort for the sake of his family. grant worked up until the last few days when he passed away. he finished his book and he asked to be taken down to the overlook for one last view of the valley. by the time they arrived back at the cottage, grant was in very poor condition and they knew he did not have long. his son fred said would you like to lie down? they brought a dead down from the nearby hotel and placed in the corner -- they brought a the nearbyom hotel and placed in the corner. grant was surrounded by his
7:41 pm
ofily here on the evening july 2, 1885. he saw that their faces were anxious, he whispered to his doctors, i don't wish for anyone to be alarmed on my account. his final wishes were that his family be comfortable. they came back down the next morning to surround him as he passed away peacefully on this bed on july 23, 1885. his son fred, walked over to the mantel clock and stopped it at 8:08 in the morning to mark the time his father passed. it has not been touched since. other than leaving a legacy for the country, the history of his life in the civil war. he also left his family an amazing legeacy financially.
7:42 pm
the memoirs went on to sell 300,000 copies and bring in $450,000 for his family. in today's money that would be somewhere near $10 million. it was enough for them to get out of debt and really live comfortably for the rest of their lives. he did succeed in his final battle at the cottage. almost immediately after grant's passing, the owner of the cottage, mr. joseph drexel decided this would be left as a memorial. things were left to the way they were when the grant family left. it has been kept that way for the last 132 years. that is why think this cottage is so important to keep the way it is and to maintain it. compelling story and gives you that wonderful insight into a relatively
7:43 pm
misunderstood figure in american history, ulysses s. grant. writer and civil rights activist and spencer brings the renaissance to her home in lynchburg, virginia. her granddaughter takes us into the home, telling us the story of an spencer and house he brings the renaissance to this quiet town in the virginia countryside. and spencer was a poet, an american poet associated with the harlem renaissance. how she becomes part of the harlem renaissance is how harlem comes to lynchburg. unfortunately, there is a group of people associated with that. if time, like an spencer that people do not know about.
7:44 pm
anne spencer was born in southwestern virginia. 's interest in writing began as a child. her first piece of poetry she said that she wrote at age 11. she would pretend like she was she would just pretend and she would do the same thing h reading before she learned how to read. she would take catalogs and go virginiathouse in west and she would pretend like she was reading. eventually, she taught herself how to read and talk herself three languages. for each as tutors other, they become the sweethearts and become married
7:45 pm
in 1901. between 1901 and 1903, they start construction on this house. i always say that anne spencer never lived in harlem, but harlem came to anne spencer. for example, w.e.b. dubois comes here to lecture at the college. that is how he gets to know anne spencer. andrew johnson comes as the secretary -- she just meets people. there he often, i think the people she is associated with were from the south. now migrated up as they are traveling from the they woulde north, have to stop somewhere. they could not stay in a hotel. the spencer home was not on the
7:46 pm
directory but it was open to people that they were associated with. hughes runs into her in new orleans. she is working on her anthologies project and langston hughes is working on a project. he took the train there. she says well i'm going back up north, why don't we just drive together? he says i need to stop over in lynchburg. he stops in lynchburg and she meets anne spencer. they go on up to philadelphia. there was so much during this. -- there were so much during this period of time. it was a movement. time too, was a fun
7:47 pm
relax, think, write, whatever was going on here. you are now in the living room of the anne spencer museum. there are several things in the parlor that are of interest. we have a letter here from w.e.b. dubois, dated 1934. the interesting thing about this letter is there is a story that my grandmother would tell and woulduld say when dubois come to visit he would say he is going to bring some smart woman. she was usually a doctor or a lawyer. when i came across this letter, it says p.s. if i come, i will bring in interesting guest and imprint the seas female and md.
7:48 pm
we will come here to the sunroom. this room was added on in the 1920's. on i think during the. of time during the heyday of the house. not only is the spencer family growing but they are having more and more visitors that are coming through and staying over, visiting. my grandmother's chair is here and my grandfather's chair is the chair on the other side. once my grandmother got up and age and she was not able to sometimes get down into her garden which she could she see out the window, she would do it right in here. one of the things about this room and the whole house museum, with the collection being 98% original, all of the furnishings are pretty much in the same place.
7:49 pm
differences is that it is a little neater. as a writer, she had a lot of papers, a lot of books. i remember that she had a little would take to her chair and she had a tray and books and spot for her coffee which she enjoyed. it was just papers and books everywhere. when she was talking, she would be able to reach over and grab whatever it was that she wanted to that she wanted to show you. upstairs toto go the second floor. this is the back staircase. this house has two staircases. this is staircase was my grandmother's filing cabinet. all the way from the top to the bottom on the side of the staircase were papers. this is where everything would be filed. you had this narrow stairway to
7:50 pm
work your way up and down. here we have what i call the is bathroom. fun story about this facility is comes from dubois the seminary and the virginia seminary did not have indoor plumbing or electricity. is fromis massachusetts. ands a very prominent doesn't know anything about outdoor plumbing. the virginia seminary women are ready to prepare his evening and they start filling it up in the middle of the field. verys comes and he is kind. he says i don't think i can bathe out here in the field. they call over to the spencer's and pop says come on over.
7:51 pm
he comes and he bathes here in the dubois bathroom. the bedroom,tering if you look here through the wall which is nearest to an to annes bed -- spencer's, you see this painting. after president this campuss died, came on this wall because before was here anne spencer would make up -- would wake up in the middle of the night and write her poetry on the wall. she would write anything that came to her mind. things that she may want to plant in the garden. things that she may want to get from the grocery store. wall wasought the getting a little lot of hand so he was trying to discourage his
7:52 pm
wife from writing on the wall. my grandmother says that is fine, i will take care of it. she gets together with dolly allen and they do this wonderful piece. they always said it was about going to a party and putting on a phony smile. the more i look at this piece through the years that i have been working here at the museum, i am beginning to identify people that are pictured in this piece. if you look in the right-hand corner, that looks like james william johnson to me and his wife. next to his wife, these two women that are smiling at this handsome man, maybe that is dubois with his visitor. in the back, the man with the glasses, could that be sterling k. brown and his wife? it is one of the things about
7:53 pm
artwork that we can imagine and get different things out of pieces. she neverer said that wrote to become a published poet, she wrote because she enjoyed writing. she never felt like she needed to do that in order to sustain , or her income like many other writers were doing at their profession. she had a husband, edward, who marvelous home for her, provided for her. she always considered the money as a librarian on -- she would spend that money on things she wanted for herself. when the garden was restored in 1983, this garden had changed to a shade garden. you can see this which does not
7:54 pm
have it leaves on it, but it has wonderful leaves in the summer. here.reated a rose garden garden you will see a sayson the cottage which that the whole garden is a made-up word, it is edward and anne's name put together. word that means closure or place. what you are looking at the srontier is anne spencer' writing studio which was built for her around the 1920's. it is allthe house, original to the way that she had
7:55 pm
it set up in the same place. and spencer uses this cottage as her place to have papers and her books and things that are just hers. coming to this cottage was a place for her to escape all of those things going on in her world and for her to come and clear her head and be to herself. takeite and sometimes to a break and go into her garden. sometimes anne spencer would sleep on this cot. these photographs here are photographs of family and friends. it is how an spencer -- it is how anne spencer like keeping her photographs. as a child, we would bring our new school photograph and we would get a thumbtack and we
7:56 pm
would push it into the wall and add the new photograph for the year. this is a photograph of my grandmother. i certainly remember her. this is my aunt, my grandparents have three children. here she is by the fireplace and my father chauncey. from those children, there were 11 grandchildren. my dad decided to do some cutouts. this is my sister and kyle and uncey and me.cue i did not know my grandmother was a writer. we grew up in california, we came to visit her usually in the
7:57 pm
summers around the fourth of july. we got to see our cousins who were visiting here in the neighborhood. we got to see other family members. her and weite to would write to her weekly. she would write to us weekly. ew would write back to us, -- the same letter would come back corrected with a marker. correcting my spelling. we would talk with her on the phone every sunday. my dad would call her and they would catch up. if we were around we got to speak to granny on the telephone. it wasn't until i was in the eighth grade that i realized that my grandmother was a poet. i really didn't quite fully understand what that meant.
7:58 pm
we were living in michigan at the time and my teacher approached me and said i would like for you to read one of your grandmother's poems for your graduation. i sent my grandmother? home and i asked my father, i said dad's grammy a poet? he says yes. passed away in july of 1975. she was 95 years old. living here all of her adult life. many people never knew of anne spencer's accomplishment. i knew her as a librarian -- they do her as a librarian, they knew her because of the garden. she enjoyed her privacy. important to more me and should be important nationally because it is not
7:59 pm
known. it is not just her legacy or her part of history, this whole segment of african-american history is not even in our history books. important for us to know the whole story of our american history. working with our cable partners, c-span travels around the country to explore the literary life and history of selected cities. if you would like to watch any of our features, you can see them all at tour. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies.
8:00 pm
today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. in illinois today, former president obama was critical of president trump and republican party policies. we will have that next on c-span. then remarks from president trump at a fundraiser in north dakota. after that, agriculture secretary discussing terrorists and their impact on farmers. later, a confirmation on whether social media needs to be regulated. ♪ ,> c-span's washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. saturday morning, alliance for andring democracy director ge


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on