NEW YORK – Even though Celia Thaxter was one of the most popular New England poets of the late 19th century, her beloved book An Island Garden might easily be overlooked on a shelf. But one look inside reveals 12 beautifully colored plates by Childe Hassam, the celebrated American Impressionist painter.
This scarce first edition of An Island Garden – only 1,019 were printed in 1894 – is featured in a Last Chance by LiveAuctioneers collectible book auction on April 14. Absentee and Internet live bidding is facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com. Live bidding will begin April 14 at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Thaxter, the daughter of a New Hampshire lighthouse keeper, was an author, painter and gardener. Much of Thaxter’s writing was inspired by the Isles of Shoals, an isolated cluster of islands off the coast of New Hampshire, where she was raised and spent much of her life. The book (below) is a lyric, detailed account of Thaxter’s celebrated small but splendid garden.
She became the hostess and manager of her father’s hotel on Appledore Island, which was then famous for its artist colony. There she welcomed many New England literary and artistic notables, including Hassam, who illustrated her book.
Thaxter died unexpectedly at the age of 59 in 1894, a few months after An Island Garden was published. In tribute Hassam painted her parlor in The Room of Flowers.
First editions of An Island Garden are increasingly difficult to find because many have been destroyed for the Hassam plates, which can sell for $300-$500 each.
The book is in in tight, unmarked condition and estimated at $1,500-$2,500.