Audubon's Sparrow: A Biography-In-Poems (Paperback)
Poetry. Epistolary. Biography. American History. Hybrid Genre. Women's Studies. What does it mean to sacrifice for someone else's art? Audubon's Sparrow answers this question by way of a verse biography of Lucy Bakewell, the intrepid and largely unsung wife of the artist and naturalist John James Audubon. Set in the early decades of the 19th century, an era of dramatic growth and expansion in America, the book follows Lucy and John James as they fall in love, marry, and set off to make a life on the western frontier.
Juditha Dowd weaves together lyric poems, imagined letters, and diary entries in Lucy's voice with excerpts from Audubon's journals and published works (which many believe Lucy helped to write and edit) to offer an intimate exploration of the thoughts of a young wife and mother. Moving from port to port along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, Lucy struggles to square the family's poverty with her husband's desire to abandon business and pursue his passion for nature. In a time when women are rarely permitted to work outside the home, Lucy draws on her education and musical talents to become a teacher, freeing Audubon to travel abroad seeking a publisher for The Birds of America. As she wards off financial ruin, Lucy's natural confidence and independence emerge, along with a very different life from the one she expected. Nimbly written and sympathetically rendered, Audubon's Sparrow is an enchanting blend of research and imagination--an indelible portrait of an American woman in need of rediscovery.