Flower Diary by Molly Peacock, ECW Press

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

Peacock, Molly

$22.99
  • “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

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

    Born into a patrician American family in the middle of the nineteenth century, Mary Hiester Reid was determined to be a painter and left behind women’s design schools to enter the art world of men. After she married fellow artist George Reid, she returned with him to his home country of Canada. There she set about creating over 300 stunning still life and landscape paintings, inhabiting a rich, if sometimes difficult, marriage, coping with a younger rival, exhibiting internationally, and becoming well-reviewed. She studied in Paris, traveled in Spain, and divided her time between Canada and the United States where she lived among America’s Arts and Crafts movement titans. She left slender written records; rather, her art became her diary and Flower Diary unfolds with an artwork for each episode of her life.

    In this sumptuous and precisely researched biography, celebrated poet and biographer Molly Peacock brings Mary Hiester Reid, foremother of painters such as Georgia O’Keefe, out of the shadows, revealing a fascinating, complex woman who insisted on her right to live as a married artist, not as a tragic heroine. Peacock uses her poet’s skill to create a structurally inventive portrait of this extraordinary woman whom modernism almost swept aside, weaving threads of her own marriage with Hiester Reid’s, following the history of empathy and examining how women manage the demands of creativity and domesticity, coping with relationships, stoves, and steamships, too. How do you make room for art when you must go to the market to buy a chicken for dinner? Hiester Reid had her answers, as Peacock gloriously discovers.

    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

Reviews

“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

“Poet and nonfiction writer Molly Peacock offers a rich and thought-provoking exploration of 19th-century artist Mary Hiester Reid in Flower Diary: In Which Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries and Opens a Door. As she did in The Paper Garden, her wonderful book on the botanical artist Mary Delany, Peacock skillfully melds personal musings on the lives of creative women with her look at the historical life. Among other things, Flower Diary is insightful about the ways women had (and have) to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities to make time for a serious creative practice.” — Society Nineteen Journal