Flower Diary by Molly Peacock, ECW Press

Flower Diary: In Which Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Opens a Door

Peacock, Molly

  • Molly Peacock uncovers the history of neglected painter Mary Hiester Reid, a trailblazing artist who refused to choose between marriage and a career.

    Molly Peacock looks at the balancing act of female creativity and domesticity in the life of Mary Hiester Reid, a painter who produced over three hundred stunning, emotive floral still lifes and landscapes. Born in the U.S. in 1854, trained by libertine Thomas Eakins, Mary trailblazed in a life where she fought for her place as a professional artist without having to live as a tragic heroine.

    She married George A. Reid, a prominent Canadian painter, and moved with him to Toronto, though she kept a studio in the Catskill Mountains. But it was the Edwardian age, and while their relationship was more equal than most, it was Mary’s place to manage the domestic scene. So, how do you find the time to paint when you need to get to the market to buy a chicken for dinner? And how do you manage a marriage when your art student becomes your rival?

    Available September 14, 2021. PRE-ORDER NOW!

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  • Biographer and distinguished poet Molly Peacock is the author of The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, as well as seven volumes of poetry, including The Analyst: Poems. She is an arts activist and, with a friend, started what became a cultural institution in New York City: Poetry in Motion on the subways and buses. A former Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellow and a dual American/Canadian citizen, Molly divides her time between Toronto and New York City.

  • Published: September 2021

    ISBN: 9781770416222

    Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.25 in.

    Pages: 356

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“Graceful yet precise, poetic yet deeply rooted in research, this exploration of an overlooked painter is gorgeous — a joy to read. Molly Peacock’s insights and empathy with her subject bring to life both Mary Hiester Reid and her luscious flower paintings.” — Charlotte Gray, author of The Massey Murder

“In prose as subtle and enchanting as Mary Hiester Reid’s own brushstrokes, Flower Diary paints a compelling portrait of a talented and unjustly neglected painter. Molly Peacock is unfailingly sensitive and intelligent, and at times deeply moving, as she shows how, despite the shade of domestic life and the unfavourable climate of the times, MHR brought forth her bright blossoms.” — Ross King, author of Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies

“In Flower Diary, Molly Peacock has produced an exquisitely unique work. A meticulous biography that’s also an eloquent, sophisticated portrait of intimate relationships, this book is about many things: the discipline required to make fine art, the emotional resilience required to sustain a marriage, the emotional turbulence hiding inside ‘simple’ floral paintings. Most of all, though, it’s a clear-eyed, unsentimental tribute to those who have the luck and fortitude to carry out their lives on their own terms. I devoured every detail, and was both moved and inspired.” — Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects Of Discussion