Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends A Landscape of Remembrance and Reflection - Page 18

Mount Auburn Monuments Designed by Sarah Wyman Whitman By Stuart Walker B oston artist Sarah Wyman Whitman (1842–1904) is most celebrated for the highly original book covers she designed for Houghton, Mifflin from 1884 to 1900 (detailed left), and for her stained-glass windows, including the Brimmer Memorial window at Harvard’s Memorial Hall. Less known is that she also designed gravestones for friends and family. Of those so far identified, all but one are in Mount Auburn Cemetery. In 1887, Mary Greenwood Lodge (b. 1829) published a book called A Week Away From Time, with a cover design by Whitman. In it, Lodge wove together chapters written by various friends with a connecting narrative, creating a fictional week on Cape Cod in which guests amused one another with stories and observations. The anonymous contributors included Annie Fields, Julia Ward Howe, the seventeen-year-old Owen Wister (later author of The Virginian), and Whitman, who wrote the final chapter, an essay on happiness. The poet and author Louise Chandler Moulton described the book as “one of the sensations of the summer” noting that “the suggestion of fashionable women as the easy rivals of trained authors added to the attractions of the book itself an atmosphere of mystery, which won for the daintily attired volume many curious readers.” She expressed the hope that Lodge would “not turn back from the literary path” upon which she had started. Sadly, Lodge did not live long enough to fulfill this hope: she died two years later, in December 1889. She was buried in Mount Auburn between her husband James and her three young sons, who had all predeceased her (Lot 5458 Excelsior Path, pictured above). Whitman designed her gravestone, as well as new stones for the others; they were completed and installed in December 1891. The marker for the children is particularly affecting; in form it suggests three small figures standing shoulder to shoulder. Across their shared “torso” is inscribed “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” followed by a line of intertwined flowers. Among Whitman’s close friends was Martin Brimmer, president of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and author of Egypt: Three Essays on the History, Religion and Art of Ancient Egypt, published by Houghton, Mifflin in 1892. That book’s binding, designed by Whitman, is considered one of the finest American examples of the nineteenth century. But Brimmer’s book bears a mournful dedication, “In Memoriam S. G. T.” Brimmer’s niece Sara Greene Timmins, known as Gemma, was the daughter of Brimmer’s brother-in-law, who had married in Italy; upon his death there, his children came to live with the Brimmers in Boston. The girls soon became fixtures in Boston society and intimate friends 16