Gardening again…

No Mequon history today. Here at the historian’s house we’ve been expanding the garden again, and I’m done for the day. So how about a revised repeat of this nice Clark-era drawing?

I think I’ll just sit on my wheelbarrow and look at a frog for a while.

Darley, Felix Octavius Carr, Artist. Man Sitting on Wheelbarrow Looking at Frog, circa 1870. Photograph of book illustration for My Summer in a Garden, by Charles Dudley Warner. Boston : J.R. Osgood, 1872. https://www.loc.gov/item/2010715574/

“If you know your toad, it’s all right”

A more polished version of this drawing appeared as the frontispiece to Charles Dudley Warner’s book My Summer in a Garden. The caption there is “If you know your toad, it’s all right,” which refers to an anecdote on page 39. If you’d like to read the book—or see the finished illustration—you can download a free pdf copy via GoogleBooks.

Charles Dudley Warner was an interesting character. He was a well-known editor, author and essayist, and a friend of and collaborator with Mark Twain. They co-wrote the novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873). Warner is also the source of the immortal observation “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” A short bio of Warner is here, if you’re interested.

The Illustrator

And how about a tip of the hat to the illustrator, F. O. C. Darley? Darley was a popular and prolific illustrator for many of America’s most successful mid-19th century authors. For more on Darley, with samples of his work, this bio is a good place to start.

One of Darley’s most famous projects was a set of illustrations for an edition of the works of James Fenimore Cooper. This might have made for some interesting conversations between Darley, Warner and Mark Twain, as Twain famously disliked Cooper’s fiction. See Twain’s short essay Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences for a good laugh disguised as literary criticism.

Back soon with more history.

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