November 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

When in Boston...

There are at least two exhibits on view in Boston that bibliophiles should not miss if they have the opportunity to poke around town before, after, and between book fairs. One is at Harvard's Houghton Library: From Austen to Zola: Amy Lowell as a Collector. "Lowell was one of the few women competing in the male-dominated world of collecting," according to the exhibit's curators. But she did win big -- scoring thousands of rare books and manuscripts, including love letters from John Keats to Fanny Brawne, manuscripts by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, and a sketch by Michelangelo on the back of a work order from 1523.

Lowell reading.jpg.
Amy Lowell seated, holding a book.
Photo credit line: Amy Lowell. Marceau, Boston, photographer. Undated. MS Lowell 62 (3). Houghton Library, Harvard University

If your interests turn more toward eye-popping visuals, get over to the Boston Athenaeum, where Chromo-Mania! Chromolithography in Boston, 1840-1910 is still on. Showing off a selection of more than sixty works, the exhibit explores the beauty of the chromolithography that appeared in everyday life: periodicals, sheet music, advertisements, and art reproductions.

Rapid Transit-Chromo.jpg
Dominick I. Drummond (ca. 1830-1899) and C. Frank King (Printing attributed to Charles H. Crosby & Company), "Rapid Transit. Save Time & Distance. Take the Hoosac Tunnel Route, 1877." Chromolithographic advertisement. 29 ¾ x 23 ¾ inches (sheet). Boston Athenæum.