Friday, February 17, 2012

Bookshelf of a Bibliophile

     Wandering around the San Marco Bookstore today, my heart leapt out of my chest and I called out to Taylor; there, in the middle of a seemingly average shelf of old books, was one with the title British Flora. Blue, musty smelling as all good books become, I grabbed it at random hoping for a glimpse of a vintage drawing. Something much, much better awarded itself to me -actual flowers, nestled between the pages like hidden secrets meant for only my eyes to discover. I'm pretty sure I stopped breathing for a minute.
George Bentham and Joseph D. Hooker were two prominent botanists of the Victorian Era. Hooker was Darwin's BFF, and Bentham was an older colleague. Quite fascinating gentlemen.
The original came out in 1858, but my copy is from 1947, almost one hundred years later.
Oh Elizabeth, who could you have been?
The first flower is placed on a page about preserving and collecting "specimens".
Was she studying, perhaps?
     It's finds like these that make my English-major mind dream up all sorts of stories surrounding the artifact. Was the previous owner a botanist? Are the markings on the page meant as signals of which blooms she has seen in person or are they just her favorites? Are the clippings she saved significant, or are they simply from her backyard? Did she have a secret garden with a crippled cousin and parents who died in India?
     Okay, that last one was a stretch, but you get where I'm coming from. Though I admit I am selfish and would like to hoard all of these beautiful finds to myself, I decided that I should share these pretties with my darling readers. I'll feature a book every so often and the reasons I adore it, with photographs of all the best parts. You're welcome. XO.

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