For live links, click to: riverhouses.org/2019-arrowhead
The great American writer Herman Melville was born 200 years ago this Thursday — his name is one every homeschool student should know — so we’re having a kind of informal Melville week here in the River Houses.
During the 1850s, Herman and his wife Elizabeth lived in a farmhouse in rural western Massachusetts that Melville named “Arrowhead.” It was in a second-floor room there, with a view of the rolling Berkshire Hills, that Melville finished Moby-Dick and wrote many of his other well-known works. Arrowhead is now a museum open to the public, and a site on the National Register of Historic Places. You and your homescholars can visit it someday, perhaps in person, but certainly online:
How does a professional writer go about his work? Here’s Melville describing his daily routine at Arrowhead in a letter to his publisher in New York City:
“I rise at eight — thereabouts — & go to my barn — say good-morning to the horse, & give him his breakfast. (It goes to my heart to give him a cold one, but it can’t be helped.) Then, pay a visit to my cow — cut up a pumpkin or two for her, & stand by to see her eat it — for it’s a pleasant sight to see a cow move her jaws — she does it so mildly and with such a sanctity. — My own breakfast over, I go to my work-room & light my fire—then spread my M.S.S. [manuscript] on the table — take one business squint at it, & fall to with a will. At 2 ½ P.M. I hear a preconcerted knock at my door, which (by request) continues till I rise & go to the door, which serves to wean me effectively from my writing, however interested I may be. My friends the horse & cow now demand their dinner — & I go & give it to them.“ (Melville to Evert Duyckinck, August 1850)
Sounds like a good life to me.
What museums, parks, or monuments have you studied or visited in your homeschool this month? 😊
❡ Come, here’s the map: If you turn to plate 44 in your recommended homeschool atlas (riverhouses.org/books) you’ll be able to locate the town of Pittsfield in western Massachusetts — far away from the ocean — and also the coastal town of New Bedford and the island of Nantucket where Melville’s famous whaling novel Moby-Dick begins. 🐳
❡ Stay in the loop: This is one of our occasional Homeschool Museums & Monuments posts. Add your name to our free weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🗞