The Blue Raccoon

Friday, September 26, 2008

Richmond In Ragtime: Cover art

Here, billion-eyed audience, is the cover design for the forthcoming volume, due in finer bookstores (and Amazon and Barnes & Noble) in November. I'll post appearances and events here.

On the front cover is (left) musician Polk Miller, a groups of suffragists (women seeking the right to vote) including artists and life-partners Adéle Clark (lower center) and Nora Houston; behind them is Main Street at around 10th looking west; lower right, crusading black publisher of the fierce and independent Richmond Planet, John Mitchell Jr.

Back cover, top: Richmond Mayor David Crockett Richardson (left) looks uneasy sharing the ride with pilot Ralph Johnstone at the 1910 Virginia State Fair. Crockett was the first city official ever to fly -- and the first to crash.

Below: A one-man dirigible, exhibited and flown at the 1911 Virginia State Fair.

All images via the Valentine Richmond History Center, except for the ladies, from the Virginia Commonwealth University James Branch Cabell Library Archives and Special Collections.

The publisher is the History Press of Charleston, S.C., who also put out True Richmond Stories, around this time in 2007.

This is a narrative, bricolage style, covering just three rambunctious years, 1909-1911. The coil of the story is provided by Adon Allen Yoder, a grassroots Socialist reformer who published a muckraking pamphlet called The Idea.

He wanted to clean up city government, an "awkward cumbersome machine" of 56 white men divided up into a Board of Aldermen and a Common Council who administrated 24 standing committees. He named names -- even printed the gambling winnings of some Councilmen.

Yoder championed women getting the vote, equal treatment of blacks before the bar of justice (though he did not advocate social integration in that Southern progressive-but-not-too-much way), and even the SPCA. What really annoyed him was the city's redlight district, which constituted most of what we now consider Shockoe Bottom around Main Street Station and a nieghborhood now obliterated by g0vernment office buildings and highway construction, Council Chamber Hill, around present 14th Street.

Also in Richmond, working and living during this time, community organizer and banker Maggie Lena Walker; editor and businessman John Mitchell Jr.; sculptor and decorative plaster-maker Ferruccio Legnaioli; reformer and suffragist Lila Meade Valentine, and novelists Ellen Glasgow, Mary Johnston and James Branch Cabell.

This is a world of flying machines and automobile endurance races and summer time excursions in streetcars.

Hope you'll like it.

The foreword is by my fellow scribe, Anne Thomas Soffee, a Richmonder, with a memory and a deft manner with words.

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At 8:11 AM, Blogger anne said...

I came home from the State Fair to find this fabulous cover art waiting, with my name next to a picture of the 1911 State Fair. It is an auspicious day indeed.

Love the cover. I am beyond excited -- thanks again for letting me be a part of this awesome book.

At 8:20 AM, Blogger HEK said...

You are quite welcome-- actually it's a twofer. Both of the back cover images were made at the Virginia State Fair -- the mayor with the pilot in 1910, the dirigible in 1911. I want that dirigible. It would make my morning commute, mostly by foot, even more exciting.--HEK


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