The Abiquiu Bookroom is a treasure trove for any librarian. While many of the titles reflect the variety in interests that Georgia O’Keeffe had, they often also give us a glimpse of her personal life as well. One such item that I recently discovered in our Special Collections was this boxed and bound poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde. A well-known story among Wilde fans, you can read a more thorough analysis of the poem via the guardian here.
What makes this item particularly interesting to me is not the poem itself, but the story that surrounds it. O’Keeffe and Steiglitz surrounded themselves with a variety of different artists. Including Edward Steichen, Steichen was one of the most showcased artists in the popluar publication Camera Works published by Stieglitz. The relationship between these artists went beyond professional — as they became life long friends.
This bound edition of the poem by Oscar Wilde was a gift from Edward Steichen to Alfred Stieglitz’s mother, Hedwig Ann Werner. Beautifully bound in rust colored leather, Steichen personalized this gift by adding drawings to accompany each segment of the poem. Known primarily as a photographer, seeing Steichen’s drawings is truly a unique experience.