The Burlington Public Library had the most entertaining author visit last night. Molly Peacock came in from Toronto and as I cupped my cold hands around my hot paper cup of tea, I revelled in her storytelling.
Mary Delany (1700-1788), was married at seventeen to a rather disgusting slob of a man who was many years her senior. He had money and Mary was given in marriage by her family as was often the practice. Thankfully, she was a widow by the age of twenty-five. Her next marriage was a love match and lasted many years but she outlived Dr Delany and grieved him deeply. But eventually, at the age of 72 she began to create masterpieces.
Sprinkled throughout are fantastic stories of friendships with Handel, Jonathon Swift and even Hogarth who taught her a few things about painting. Delicious tidbits such as the purchase of a hat for 50 pounds when she had only 300 a year show a certain joie de vivre. Mary had a keen eye for detail and was not one to sit around. One day she spied some paper that was the exact shade of pink as a nearby flower petal and clutching a pair of scissors she cut out a matching petal...and then another....and then another. The image above is not a painting but many, many strips of paper carefully glued to a background with flour and water.
The results are breathtaking and Mary was prolific. She had a goal of creating 1000 paper flower collages but failing eyesight meant she completed a total of 985. Carefully stored away between sheets of paper, these works of art retained their vibrant colours and can be seen at The British Museum. A visit most definitely being added to the itinerary of my next trip across the pond!
After the talk, Molly, was returning to Toronto by train. Most likely anonymous to any of the other passengers but oh, what a treat to anyone who should happen to strike up a conversation with her.
My very good friend and colleague, Roberta, spied the author visit in our library's events guide and thought it sounded like something I would like. She was so right. Settling in for the holidays with the most beautiful book I've seen in a long time (signed by the author!) will be sheer bliss.