Amelia Watson’s Sketches for Thoreau’s Cape Cod (1896)

A portfolio of watercolor sketches for Thoreau's Cape Cod (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1896) from the Paul Brooks Collection.

A note on the 1896 illustrated edition of Cape Cod: “from an actual copy of Cape Cod with marginal sketches in color made by the artist as she read the successive chapters amid the scenes characterized by Thoreau. Thus she saw the sand, the lighthouse, the ocean, the sails, the fishermen, the weather-beaten houses, and when Thoreau threw in a Floridian contrast she was able happily to jot down a note in color from her own Florida sketches. The original book, conceived and executed for the artist’s friend and compagnon de voyage, is reproduced for the pleasure of those whose own reading of Cape Cod is illuminated by the color and form which Thoreau’s writing suggests or their fortunate memory brings back.”

Amelia Watson’s companion for whom she did the original volume was the photographer, writer, biologist and educator, Margaret Warner Morley (1858-1923).

In addition to the sketches Amelia Watson made in her copy of Cape Cod — now housed in the Paul Brooks Collection — the artist also made supplementary sketches for inclusion in the illustrated edition, fifteen of which are below.

Cape Cod 6 (BROOKS)

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Related texts:

  • Amelia Watson by Henry Beetle Hough (from The Dukes County Intelligencer, February 1968). Reprinted by permission of the Dukes County Historical Society, Inc., Edgartown, Massachusetts.