It was Margaret Fuller's 199th last Saturday, May 23, the beginning of her bicentennial year and a wonderful time was had by all.
The Bicentennial really began the day before at the American Literature Association held here in Boston where two panels of academics held forth. I made it to one, which will surprise precisely no one who knows me when they hear the title: "Margaret Fuller and Transnationalism." Among her other traits, Fuller foresaw the rise of the transnational state--then took herself to Europe in the late 1840s to explore its meaning.
On Saturday morning, her actual birthday, we made our annual pilgrimage to Mount Auburn Cemetery where the memorial stone in her family's plot reminds us that she was "by genius belonging to the world." Later in the day, the Hedge Club devoted its meeting to Margaret, including a performance by Laurie James, who has been impersonating Margaret in various dramatic venues for years.
Then in the late afternoon, many of Margaret's fans--and many more than we expected--gathered at First Parish in Cambridge for her official 199th birthday party. Organized by Rev. Dorothy Emerson, who hosted the event (and with whom I'm co-chairing the Bicentennial Committee but, honestly, Dorothy has done all the heavy lifting), the party drew about 80 people, including scholars, writers, musicians, and sundry Fuller fanatics.
The program included two Margarets--Laurie James and Jessa Piaia (in her premiere performance); Megan Marshall reading from her Fuller sections of her Pulitzer-finalist The Peabody Sisters; independent scholar Judith Strong Albert; pianist (as in Ken Burns documentaries) Jacqueline Schwab who played Chopin (whom Margaret met in Paris at the home of George Sand); Melody Lee, who hosted the event for First Parish; and, yes, me.
Here are some pictures, beginning at Mount Auburn Cemetery.
John's new flute up close, made for him in Japan
Rev Dorothy Emerson, Margaret, and guess who
"Margaret Fuller's Birthday," film by Ron Mortara, which we made last year at Mount Auburn and showed this year
The timeline of Margaret's life in pictures, created by Bonnie Hurd Smith, and displayed at the "birthday party" at First Parish
Fuller family photos, compiled by Laurie James, along with Laurie's books about Margaret
Buttons and magnets for sale!
Scholars Phyllis Cole, Megan Marshall, and Helen Deese
Laurie James as Margaret
Jessa Piaia as Margaret
House on Brattle Street
where Margaret and her family lived -
now Cambridge Center for Adult Education
Georgian, gambrel roof, three story,
much like a house I know, love--and live in!