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“No picture could be more lovely”: Ada Shepard with the Hawthornes in Florence, 1858

The exhibition features the sketchbooks and letters of Ada Shepard, a well-educated, perceptive young woman who served as governess to the children of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne while they were in Europe between 1857 and 1859, with the focus on the family's sojourn in Florence in 1858. Ada’s letters, in particular, provide a window into a young American woman’s experiences in mid-century Europe.

The grand opening was held on Friday, April 6, 2018, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the Concord Free Public Library Rotunda. A lecture by Pulitzer Prize winner Megan Marshall, biographer of the Peabody sisters, Margaret Fuller, and Elizabeth Bishop, was followed by elegant refreshments and an opportunity to view the exhibition. [Watch Exhibition Opening with Megan Marshall]

Lecture Series:

The lecture series continues on May 5 with a talk by Dr. Phyllis Blum Cole, Ada Shepard, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the Feminist Fifties. Dr. Phyllis Cole has recently retired as Professor Emerita of English, Women’s Studies, and American Studies at Penn State Brandywine. A former president of both the Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Margaret Fuller Societies, she is the author of Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism:  A Family History (1998), named as Finalist for the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association, as well as many articles about women in and around the movement. The lecture will begin at 5:00 p.m. in the Main Library's Periodical Room.

On June 2, Rev. Jenny Rankin will speak on The Hawthorne's Italian Journey. The lecture will begin at 5:00 p.m. in the Library Rotunda.

All are welcome.

Guided Gallery Tour: Saturday, May 5 at 10:00 a.m. led by Curator Leslie Wilson. No registration required. Open to all.