To celebrate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s birthday on February 27, I thought I would present an image that has never been displayed in public or printed before. Indeed, even the subject of the photograph is a very rare sight.
One of the things I enjoy about being commissioned by the National Park Service, is the opportunity to see objects that are housed in the archives and out of public view.
Longfellow (1807-82) was a “rock star” poet of his day. And like any rocker, he enjoyed his smokes and indulged in them while lounging in the special jacket pictured above.
Oftentimes, it is I who cajoles the staff to bring me to the archives. But for this commission, I was happy that little prodding was needed. It was the Museum Tech’s idea to have the jacket photographed and, rather than photographing it in the clinical surroundings of a storage room, she brought it up to Longfellow’s study.
The jacket is back-to-back against Longfellow’s literary deity, Goethe, in the form of a white statuette on the poet’s standing writing desk.
And I will leave to your imagination what the mysterious figures on the upper right are all about.
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