Amy Lowell – a controversial, cigar-smoking, outspoken, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet – collected works by prominent creative artists such as Jane Austen, Ludwig von Beethoven, William Blake, Charlotte Brontë, John Keats, Michelangelo, Walt Whitman and Émile Zola. A selection from the thousands of rare books and manuscripts collected by Lowell, and bequeathed to Harvard in 1925, are showcased in this exhibition.
Lowell was one of the few women competing in the male-dominated world of collecting. She began at age 17 by purchasing Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels with her Christmas money. The exhibition includes several works by William Blake, another of her early collecting interests, including Songs of Innocence (1789); a sketch by Michelangelo on the back of a work order (1523); letters by Voltaire, Jane Austen, and Harriet Beecher Stowe; love letters from Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton, and John Keats to Fanny Brawne; manuscripts by Ben Jonson, Jean La Fontaine, Charlotte Brontë, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson; books owned by Charles I and the Empress Josephine; and much, much more.
The exhibition, on display in the Edison and Newman Room in Houghton Library, is free and open to the public during Houghton’s regular hours.