January 4, 2012

Death of Wynne: peculiarly ethereal

Madeline Yale Wynne died on January 4, 1918. Today, she is mostly remembered as a leader in the Arts and Crafts movement, particularly in metalworking. However, she was also an author. Perhaps her most famous work remains the supernatural story "The Little Room," first published in 1895. Her final published work, however, was Si Briggs Talks (1917), a collection of character sketches in verse using Yankee dialect. The selections are fairly pointless doggerel, including "Black List":

I've jest seen Ed Buzzell's black-list.
   It's a caution to snakes!
      He keeps a list of all the folks to hate;
      Keeps it strictly up to date,
   'Cause he makes
Changes from time to time,
As 'fusion warrants, and
Won't trust his mem'ry.
      Now I 'm waitin'
To see a white-list;
But I guess folks don't keep 'em.
      Mebbe hatin'
Comes more natchral.

Though born in New York (the granddaughter of the inventor of the Yale lock), Wynne spent the majority of her life in Deerfield, Massachusetts, buying a home there in 1885 (she had separated from her husband and changed her married name from "Winn" to "Wynne"). Shortly after her death, a book was published in her honor: In Memory of Madeline Yale Wynne began with a short tribute by fellow author George Washington Cable. It reads, in part:

No brief phrase can possibly define the beautiful character and presence of Madeline Wynne. She was peculiarly ethereal without a hint of detachment from the tangible world by which she was surrounded, and which she loved for everything in it that was good and fair, or that rightfully called for understanding or sympathy. To her, life, all life, was unfailingly real and earnest, and even poignant. She saw everything with a beautifying and poetic vision, and so reflected it to others. She was one of the most joyous souls I ever came in touch with, and yet saw everything true. She did not merely prefer the bright side of things.

1 comment:

  1. The intensity of that photograph is striking. Just wanted to mention, re the 19th century, that Atlantic magazine has a commemorative Civil War issue out now that kept me mesmerized through three airport waiting rooms. Many writers represented.


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