Anne Sexton scrapbook image

Anne Sexton
Virginia Beach, VA
1948
The year she eloped from her Boston home, Anne Sexton started a scrapbook. In it she placed a faded color photograph of herself and Kayo, her betrothed, lounging on beach chairs with the caption "us," along with the taped-in key to their Virginia Beach hotel room. (This is the same key featured on the cover of Scrapbooks: An American History.) She saved, too, the forgiving telegram from her loving parents: "Two such sweet young people should make a fine combination." Notes the Washington Post in a recent review, "the young bride pastes in laundry lists, gin rummy tallies, her husband's apology note after their first fight. She also starts to write poetry: romantic rhyming couplets and letters, ripped from a magazine, that spell "Bleat, Bleat." Some years later, Sexton "found fame as a poet, her marriage imploded in abuse and infidelity, and she committed suicide."

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Combining pictures, words, and a wealth of personal ephemera, scrapbook makers preserve on the pages of their books a moment, a day, or a lifetime. Highly subjective, rich in emotional meaning, the scrapbook is a unique and often quirky form of expression in which a person gathers and arranges meaningful materias to create a personal narrative. This richly illustrated book is the first to focus close attention on the history of American scrapbooks—their origins, their makers, their diverse forms, the reasons for their popularity, and their place in American cultural life.
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