Sunday, January 17, 2021


Some inkling came over me as November 2020 crowded in

with outdoor work to button up before the snow started to fly —

so it was no surprise I went hunting room to room and library

to library in our old farmhouse for my first edition Modern Library

copy of Rockwell Kent's Wilderness. It had been lived in

(Fox Island, Alaska) and written during the rise of the

Spanish Influenza of 1919 and here we are 100 years later

as I go back in time, again, with Rockwell Kent and his nine year old son Rockwell

and their land and boat journey into the wilds of Alaska. Typically Kent

at the helm, with words and his poignant woodslore illustrations,

I was in his hands. Modern Library crafted with him

the ideal book culture. To first enhance my reading

I went back to Rockwellkentian and its "few words and many

pictures" showcasing a bibliography and list of prints compiled

by Carl Zigrosser and Kent's brief commentary, always with

his quill point edge. This brings us up to Kent as of 1933.

He'll be active and thriving almost forty more years.

In 1980 Sweetheart and I took our own voyage on a mailboat

to Monhegan island where Rockwell Kent as a young man built

a masterful house for his mother (later owned by the Wyeth family)

and two houses for himself. This would be in 1905 when he was twenty five

years old and the rocky island life would hold him for the next five years

of construction work and continuing at his painting. After Monhegan,

Kent lived for long periods of time in Minnesota (1912-13),

Newfoundland (1914-15), Alaska (1918-19), Vermont (where he

wrote Wilderness, Arlington to be exact 1919-25),

Tierra del Fuego (1922-23) Ireland (1926) and

Greenland (1929, 1931-32, 1934-35). We can follow

Kent everywhere through his paintings and the many

books he wrote from these sojourns. 

My personal copy of Kent's Rockwellkentian is signed

by Kent — the smallest signature I believe I

have ever seen.

[ BA ]