Fueled by a love for reading, history, and our respective MFAH house museums, Jennifer Hammond and I decided to launch a program to share our enthusiasm with all of you! Jennifer is the director of education at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens.
The Rienzi and Bayou Bend Book Club was inaugurated in September 2011 and features books about the culture, history, and experience of the 18th and 19th centuries in America and Europe. We are always eager for new participants like you to join us—whether for one book or all of them! Check out the list below for Bayou Bend’s upcoming selections, and stay tuned for my next blog to see what we have in store at Rienzi.
Visit mfah.org/historybookclub for the dates and times of the discussions, and drop in to participate!
Casey & Jennifer
For the 2013–2014 season, Bayou Bend’s book selections look at gardening, woodworking, and women’s history, all through the lens of the early 1700s.
• September’s book, The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf, is something of a prequel to Wulf’s Founding Gardeners, a very popular selection in 2012. The Brother Gardeners retells the stories of the “plantsmen” of the 18th century who collected, cultivated, and exchanged plants from all over the world, especially America, for the gardens of England.
• In January, Jennifer L. Anderson’s Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America looks at how mahogany—the most elegant and luxurious furniture wood of the 1700s and early 1800s—made its way to America and how the trade affected Caribbean and Atlantic Coast workers, entrepreneurs, and craftsmen.
• Our May selection is a brand-new publication, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore. Jane Franklin was the favorite correspondent of her older brother, Benjamin, and they exchanged many letters throughout their lives. Like Benjamin, she was “a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator” but because of her gender and situation, Jane’s life evolved very differently. Lepore’s book is both an unusual perspective on one of our best-known founders and a unique depiction of women’s lives before the American Revolution.