title

Boston Athenæum

Boston Athenæum

3
Followers
11
Plays
Boston Athenæum
Boston Athenæum

Boston Athenæum

Boston Athenæum

3
Followers
11
Plays
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About Us

The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless internet access throughout its building. The Art Department mounts three exhibitions per year in the institution's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, rotating selections in the Recent Acquisitions Gallery, and a number of less formal installations in places and cases around the building. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials. Our Conservation Department works to preserve all our collections. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. Members are able to take advantage of our second- and fifth-floor terraces during fine weather, and to search electronic databases and our digital collections from their homes and offices.

Latest Episodes

Liza Wieland, "Paris 7 A.M.: A Novel"

July 16, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. The acclaimed, award-winning author Liza Wieland of A Watch of Nightingales imagines in a sweeping and stunning novel what happened to the poet Elizabeth Bishop during three life-changing weeks she spent in Paris in 1937--the only year Elizabeth, a meticulous keeper of journals, didn't fully chronicle. Amidst the imminent threat of World War II, the novel brings us in vivid detail from Paris to Normandy where Elizabeth becomes involved with a group rescuing Jewish “orphans” and delivering them to convents where they will be baptized as Catholics and saved from the impending horror their parents will face. Poignant and captivating, Liza Wieland’s Paris, 7 A.M. is a beautifully rendered take on the formative years of one of America’s most celebrated—and mythologized—female poets.

35 MINAUG 16
Comments
Liza Wieland, "Paris 7 A.M.: A Novel"

Sonia Purnell, "A Woman of No Importance"

April 11, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. This lecture is in conjunction with the Royal Oak Foundation. In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent command: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her." This spy was Virginia Hall, a young socialite from Baltimore, who, after being rejected from the Foreign Service because of her gender and prosthetic leg, talked her way into the SOE, the WWII British spy organization dubbed Churchill's "ministry of ungentlemanly warfare." Hall, known as the "Madonna of the Resistance," was one of the greatest spies in American and English history, yet her full story remains untold. At a time when sending female secret agents into enemy territory was still strictly forbidden, Hall coordinated a network of spies to report on German troop movements, arranged equipment parachute drops for Resistance fighters, and recruited and trained guerrilla units to ambush enemy convoys and blow up bridges and railroads. Even as her face covered WANTED posters throughout Europe, Hall refused orders to evacuate. She finally escaped in a death- defying climb over of the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown, and her associates imprisoned or executed. But, adamant that she had more lives to save, she plunged back into the field with the American OSS secret service, directing partisan armies to back up the Allied forces landing on Normandy beaches. A Woman of No Importance: The Spy Who Helped Win WWII will reveal the captivating story of a formidable, yet shockingly overlooked, heroine whose fierce persistence helped win the war.

64 MINAUG 16
Comments
Sonia Purnell, "A Woman of No Importance"

Anita Diamant and Fred Sullivan, Jr., “Cymbeline: A Conversation”

July 27, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. The Boston Athenæum and the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) have partnered together to bring you two fantastic events in one night that interrogate and celebrate Shakespeare's Cymbeline, a mystical dramedy full of intrigue, mistaken identities, and romance. The production of Cymbeline marks CSC's 24th season of Free Shakespeare on the Common (July 17 through August 4, 2019). The evening begins at the Boston Athenæum at 6:00pm with a conversation between Anita Diamant, best selling author, and Fred Sullivan Jr., director of CSC's Cymbeline. They will discuss the themes of integrity and forgiveness running throughout this tragicomic romance and fairy tale plot. In particular, they will explore the trials of the heroine, Imogen, an isolated and wronged young woman facing down threats in a violent world--and how she persists.

56 MINAUG 9
Comments
Anita Diamant and Fred Sullivan, Jr., “Cymbeline: A Conversation”

Elizabeth Cobbs, The Tubman Command: A Novel

June 19, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. In celebration of Juneteenth. By the bestselling author of The Hamilton Affair, The Tubman Command is an impeccably researched historical novel that brings to light the bravery and brilliance of American icon Harriet Tubman. It’s May 1863. Outgeneraled and outgunned, a demoralized Union Army has pulled back with massive losses at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Fort Sumter, hated symbol of the Rebellion, taunts the American navy with its artillery and underwater mines. In Beaufort, South Carolina, one very special woman, code named Moses, is hatching a spectacular plan. Hunted by Confederates, revered by slaves, Harriet Tubman plots an expedition behind enemy lines to liberate hundreds of bondsmen and recruit them as soldiers. A bounty on her head, she has given up husband and home for the noblest cause: a nation of, by, and for the people. The Tubman Command tells the story of Tubman at the height of her powers, when she devises the largest p...

42 MINJUN 28
Comments
Elizabeth Cobbs, The Tubman Command: A Novel

Michael Bronski, Why the Commonly Told Story of Stonewall Is the Least Interesting Thing About It

June 11, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. In the early morning of June 28th 1969, lesbians, gay men, drag queens, street hustlers, and transgender people fought the police and rioted for three nights on Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. The Stonewall Riot, as it came to be called, was the birth of the modern day Gay Liberation and Gay Rights movements. This was a momentous historical moment. It is also, possibly, the least interesting part of the story. Stonewall is the founding myth of today LGBTQ movements – but it is also the story of a moment in history that gripped the imagination of the nation crossing racial, gender, political, and social divides. It is a tale of riots, rebellion, revolt, freedom, and not least of all, drugs, sex and rock and roll.

50 MINJUN 28
Comments
Michael Bronski, Why the Commonly Told Story of Stonewall Is the Least Interesting Thing About It

Jenna Blum & Randy Susan Meyers, Writers with Obsessions

Jenna Blum & Randy Susan Meyers, Writers with Obsessions by Boston Athenæum

42 MINJUN 21
Comments
Jenna Blum & Randy Susan Meyers, Writers with Obsessions

Nina Campbell, Nina Campbell Interior Decoration: Elegance and Ease

May 30, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. Nina Campbell’s almost fifty-year career exemplifies the best of English interior design. Campbell imparts her design wisdom through a biography of her career and recent decorating projects, sharing tips and secrets of the trade. A selection of the designer’s own London residences outlines her experimentations and passions—from pared-back grandeur to bold plays of scale and modern use of texture and color. A survey of Nina’s high-profile commissions completed in the last five years demonstrates how she employs the key principles of her design aesthetic in a variety of contexts, from prestigious addresses in London and New York, a pied-à-terre in Rome, and a retreat in the English countryside to a historic German hotel, a viewing pavilion at the Ascot, and a Los Angeles bedroom suite. The running theme is how Campbell has taken the tenets of classic English style and uses them to create a style germane to the twenty-first century. This epony...

55 MINJUN 21
Comments
Nina Campbell, Nina Campbell Interior Decoration: Elegance and Ease

Christian Di Spigna, “Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren”

May 28, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. A rich and illuminating biography of America’s forgotten Founding Father, the patriot physician and major general who fomented rebellion and died heroically at the battle of Bunker Hill on the brink of revolution. Little has been known of one of the most important figures in early American history, Dr. Joseph Warren, an architect of the colonial rebellion, and a man who might have led the country as Washington or Jefferson did had he not been martyred at Bunker Hill in 1775. Warren was involved in almost every major insurrectionary act in the Boston area for a decade, from the Stamp Act protests to the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party, and his incendiary writings included the famous Suffolk Resolves, which helped unite the colonies against Britain and inspired the Declaration of Independence. Yet after his death, his life and legend faded, leaving his contemporaries to rise to fame in his place and obscuring his essential role in bringin...

49 MINMAY 31
Comments
Christian Di Spigna, “Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren”

Lynne Murphy, “The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English”

May 13, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. In conjunction with The English-Speaking Union “English accents are the sexiest.” “Americans have ruined the English language.” Such claims about the English language are often repeated but rarely examined. Professor Lynne Murphy is on the linguistic front line. In The Prodigal Tongue she explores the fiction and reality of the special relationship between British and American English. By examining the causes and symptoms of American Verbal Inferiority Complex and its flipside, British Verbal Superiority Complex, Murphy unravels the prejudices, stereotypes and insecurities that shape our attitudes to our own language. With great humo(u)r and new insights, Lynne Murphy looks at the social, political and linguistic forces that have driven American and British English in different directions: how Americans got from centre to center, why British accents are growing away from American ones, and what different things we mean when we say estate, fr...

42 MINMAY 31
Comments
Lynne Murphy, “The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English”

Suzanne Preston Blier, Stephen S. Lash, Akili Tommasino, and Murray Whyte, "What's It Worth?”

May 9, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. For many, art has an essential worth independent of commercial value. It exists in its own priceless realm of cultural heritage and personal meaning. And yet, artworks are also subject to commodifying forces that often take them away from the public eye or the peoples who created them. For instance, at auction houses private collectors pay stunning sums for artworks that are then whisked behind closed doors. Meanwhile, museum curators must negotiate the value of artworks according to a unique set of acquisition practices and parameters quite different from private collectors. And then some artists’ works--however brilliant--never gain recognition while others’ become virtually priceless. Join us for an evening with four experts who will examine the “value” of art in its myriad forms.

50 MINMAY 31
Comments
Suzanne Preston Blier, Stephen S. Lash, Akili Tommasino, and Murray Whyte, "What's It Worth?”

Latest Episodes

Liza Wieland, "Paris 7 A.M.: A Novel"

July 16, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. The acclaimed, award-winning author Liza Wieland of A Watch of Nightingales imagines in a sweeping and stunning novel what happened to the poet Elizabeth Bishop during three life-changing weeks she spent in Paris in 1937--the only year Elizabeth, a meticulous keeper of journals, didn't fully chronicle. Amidst the imminent threat of World War II, the novel brings us in vivid detail from Paris to Normandy where Elizabeth becomes involved with a group rescuing Jewish “orphans” and delivering them to convents where they will be baptized as Catholics and saved from the impending horror their parents will face. Poignant and captivating, Liza Wieland’s Paris, 7 A.M. is a beautifully rendered take on the formative years of one of America’s most celebrated—and mythologized—female poets.

35 MINAUG 16
Comments
Liza Wieland, "Paris 7 A.M.: A Novel"

Sonia Purnell, "A Woman of No Importance"

April 11, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. This lecture is in conjunction with the Royal Oak Foundation. In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent command: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her." This spy was Virginia Hall, a young socialite from Baltimore, who, after being rejected from the Foreign Service because of her gender and prosthetic leg, talked her way into the SOE, the WWII British spy organization dubbed Churchill's "ministry of ungentlemanly warfare." Hall, known as the "Madonna of the Resistance," was one of the greatest spies in American and English history, yet her full story remains untold. At a time when sending female secret agents into enemy territory was still strictly forbidden, Hall coordinated a network of spies to report on German troop movements, arranged equipment parachute drops for Resistance fighters, and recruited and trained guerrilla units to ambush enemy convoys and blow up bridges and railroads. Even as her face covered WANTED posters throughout Europe, Hall refused orders to evacuate. She finally escaped in a death- defying climb over of the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown, and her associates imprisoned or executed. But, adamant that she had more lives to save, she plunged back into the field with the American OSS secret service, directing partisan armies to back up the Allied forces landing on Normandy beaches. A Woman of No Importance: The Spy Who Helped Win WWII will reveal the captivating story of a formidable, yet shockingly overlooked, heroine whose fierce persistence helped win the war.

64 MINAUG 16
Comments
Sonia Purnell, "A Woman of No Importance"

Anita Diamant and Fred Sullivan, Jr., “Cymbeline: A Conversation”

July 27, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. The Boston Athenæum and the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) have partnered together to bring you two fantastic events in one night that interrogate and celebrate Shakespeare's Cymbeline, a mystical dramedy full of intrigue, mistaken identities, and romance. The production of Cymbeline marks CSC's 24th season of Free Shakespeare on the Common (July 17 through August 4, 2019). The evening begins at the Boston Athenæum at 6:00pm with a conversation between Anita Diamant, best selling author, and Fred Sullivan Jr., director of CSC's Cymbeline. They will discuss the themes of integrity and forgiveness running throughout this tragicomic romance and fairy tale plot. In particular, they will explore the trials of the heroine, Imogen, an isolated and wronged young woman facing down threats in a violent world--and how she persists.

56 MINAUG 9
Comments
Anita Diamant and Fred Sullivan, Jr., “Cymbeline: A Conversation”

Elizabeth Cobbs, The Tubman Command: A Novel

June 19, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. In celebration of Juneteenth. By the bestselling author of The Hamilton Affair, The Tubman Command is an impeccably researched historical novel that brings to light the bravery and brilliance of American icon Harriet Tubman. It’s May 1863. Outgeneraled and outgunned, a demoralized Union Army has pulled back with massive losses at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Fort Sumter, hated symbol of the Rebellion, taunts the American navy with its artillery and underwater mines. In Beaufort, South Carolina, one very special woman, code named Moses, is hatching a spectacular plan. Hunted by Confederates, revered by slaves, Harriet Tubman plots an expedition behind enemy lines to liberate hundreds of bondsmen and recruit them as soldiers. A bounty on her head, she has given up husband and home for the noblest cause: a nation of, by, and for the people. The Tubman Command tells the story of Tubman at the height of her powers, when she devises the largest p...

42 MINJUN 28
Comments
Elizabeth Cobbs, The Tubman Command: A Novel

Michael Bronski, Why the Commonly Told Story of Stonewall Is the Least Interesting Thing About It

June 11, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. In the early morning of June 28th 1969, lesbians, gay men, drag queens, street hustlers, and transgender people fought the police and rioted for three nights on Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. The Stonewall Riot, as it came to be called, was the birth of the modern day Gay Liberation and Gay Rights movements. This was a momentous historical moment. It is also, possibly, the least interesting part of the story. Stonewall is the founding myth of today LGBTQ movements – but it is also the story of a moment in history that gripped the imagination of the nation crossing racial, gender, political, and social divides. It is a tale of riots, rebellion, revolt, freedom, and not least of all, drugs, sex and rock and roll.

50 MINJUN 28
Comments
Michael Bronski, Why the Commonly Told Story of Stonewall Is the Least Interesting Thing About It

Jenna Blum & Randy Susan Meyers, Writers with Obsessions

Jenna Blum & Randy Susan Meyers, Writers with Obsessions by Boston Athenæum

42 MINJUN 21
Comments
Jenna Blum & Randy Susan Meyers, Writers with Obsessions

Nina Campbell, Nina Campbell Interior Decoration: Elegance and Ease

May 30, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. Nina Campbell’s almost fifty-year career exemplifies the best of English interior design. Campbell imparts her design wisdom through a biography of her career and recent decorating projects, sharing tips and secrets of the trade. A selection of the designer’s own London residences outlines her experimentations and passions—from pared-back grandeur to bold plays of scale and modern use of texture and color. A survey of Nina’s high-profile commissions completed in the last five years demonstrates how she employs the key principles of her design aesthetic in a variety of contexts, from prestigious addresses in London and New York, a pied-à-terre in Rome, and a retreat in the English countryside to a historic German hotel, a viewing pavilion at the Ascot, and a Los Angeles bedroom suite. The running theme is how Campbell has taken the tenets of classic English style and uses them to create a style germane to the twenty-first century. This epony...

55 MINJUN 21
Comments
Nina Campbell, Nina Campbell Interior Decoration: Elegance and Ease

Christian Di Spigna, “Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren”

May 28, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. A rich and illuminating biography of America’s forgotten Founding Father, the patriot physician and major general who fomented rebellion and died heroically at the battle of Bunker Hill on the brink of revolution. Little has been known of one of the most important figures in early American history, Dr. Joseph Warren, an architect of the colonial rebellion, and a man who might have led the country as Washington or Jefferson did had he not been martyred at Bunker Hill in 1775. Warren was involved in almost every major insurrectionary act in the Boston area for a decade, from the Stamp Act protests to the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party, and his incendiary writings included the famous Suffolk Resolves, which helped unite the colonies against Britain and inspired the Declaration of Independence. Yet after his death, his life and legend faded, leaving his contemporaries to rise to fame in his place and obscuring his essential role in bringin...

49 MINMAY 31
Comments
Christian Di Spigna, “Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren”

Lynne Murphy, “The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English”

May 13, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. In conjunction with The English-Speaking Union “English accents are the sexiest.” “Americans have ruined the English language.” Such claims about the English language are often repeated but rarely examined. Professor Lynne Murphy is on the linguistic front line. In The Prodigal Tongue she explores the fiction and reality of the special relationship between British and American English. By examining the causes and symptoms of American Verbal Inferiority Complex and its flipside, British Verbal Superiority Complex, Murphy unravels the prejudices, stereotypes and insecurities that shape our attitudes to our own language. With great humo(u)r and new insights, Lynne Murphy looks at the social, political and linguistic forces that have driven American and British English in different directions: how Americans got from centre to center, why British accents are growing away from American ones, and what different things we mean when we say estate, fr...

42 MINMAY 31
Comments
Lynne Murphy, “The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English”

Suzanne Preston Blier, Stephen S. Lash, Akili Tommasino, and Murray Whyte, "What's It Worth?”

May 9, 2019 at the Boston Athenæum. For many, art has an essential worth independent of commercial value. It exists in its own priceless realm of cultural heritage and personal meaning. And yet, artworks are also subject to commodifying forces that often take them away from the public eye or the peoples who created them. For instance, at auction houses private collectors pay stunning sums for artworks that are then whisked behind closed doors. Meanwhile, museum curators must negotiate the value of artworks according to a unique set of acquisition practices and parameters quite different from private collectors. And then some artists’ works--however brilliant--never gain recognition while others’ become virtually priceless. Join us for an evening with four experts who will examine the “value” of art in its myriad forms.

50 MINMAY 31
Comments
Suzanne Preston Blier, Stephen S. Lash, Akili Tommasino, and Murray Whyte, "What's It Worth?”