Six miles or so SE of Portsmouth Harbor (New Hampshire) a rockpile juts above the ocean surface to create a small group of rugged mounts, cliffs, and tidal ledges — the Isles of Shoals. Appledore, Smuttynose, and Star are the largest islands in the group — Star being home to a rustic resort.
Celia Thaxter (1835-1894) skillfully crafts a lens that allows us to peer into the diverse realities that make up the insular culture of the Isles of Shoals. She expertly captures the haunting remoteness, the treacherous terrain, and the tempestuous waters that shape the lives of the islanders. Thaxter also illuminates the unique dialect spoken by the inhabitants, and the often monotonous yet occasionally exhilarating daily routine that defines their existence. Through her writing, we witness the piercing dullness of everyday life, punctuated by moments of existential drama that shake the island to its core.
Thaxter was an American poet, writer, and painter who became a significant figure in the literary and cultural circles of New England in the late 19th century. Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Thaxter spent much of her childhood on the Isles of Shoals, a group of small islands off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. Her experiences on the islands inspired much of her writing, which often focused on the natural beauty of the area.
Celia began her career as a writer in the 1850s, publishing poems and essays in a variety of magazines and newspapers. She gained widespread recognition for her poetry collection "Poems" (1872), which included some of her most famous works such as "The Sandpiper" and "The Burgomaster Gull". In addition to her writing, Thaxter was also an accomplished painter, often creating watercolor paintings of the landscape around her home.
Thaxter's literary and artistic achievements earned her a place in the cultural elite of New England. She counted among her friends such notable figures as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and John Greenleaf Whittier. Her home on Appledore Island, one of the Isles of Shoals, became a gathering place for artists, writers, and intellectuals of the day.
"Celia Thaxter." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2023.
"Celia Laighton Thaxter." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2023.
"Celia Thaxter." Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian Institution, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2023.
The Isles of Shoals have long been a source of inspiration for artists, who have contributed a vast and diverse array of visual imagery to capture the unique beauty of the islands. From the early 19th century to the present day, a multitude of artists have been drawn to the rugged landscape, turbulent waters, and distinctive culture of the Isles. The result is a rich and varied visual history that spans centuries. The artists...
Christopher Volpe (also vid producer)
Arthur Quartley ( De Haas)
Wm Trost Richards
R Swain Gifford
A T Bricher ( Moran)
H Bird Brown
J Appleton Brown
Wm Morris Hunt
Ross Sterling Turner
Francis Henry Richsrdson
Tonalism - American School
Soren Emil Carlsen
Richard Hayley Lever
Abraham J Bogdanove
Frank Cohen Kirk
Thomas Hart Benton
Donald Gordon Squier
John Woodsum Hatch
T M Nicholas
Alexandra de Steiguer