This was my first blog post, but I thought I’d make my manifesto easy to find by reposting it here.
I started visiting graveyards by accident. A series of missed connections during the first Gulf War resulted in an unanticipated layover in London, where I just happened to pick up Victorian Valhalla, a guidebook to Highgate Cemetery. My husband Mason wanted to visit the graveyard because John Gay’s photos made it look so pretty. In fact, Highgate was ravishing, full of dramatic marble angels taking wing.
As it happened, one graveyard led to another. Mason and I decided to visit Père Lachaise in Paris because so many famous people came to rest there. As we wandered, we accidentally discovered my favorite grave marker in all the world: shackled in the granite, Prometheus raises one fist against the gods. If that doesn’t sum up my feeling about death, I don’t know what might.
So I started looking at graveyards because they were pretty, then because famous people rested there. I quickly learned that practically anonymous gravestones tell the best stories. I developed a fascination with history, as reflected in burial grounds, which led to studying trends in mortuary decoration. You can say I’m obsessed. I don’t mind.
Every Wednesday, I discuss a new Cemetery of the Week. These are brief encyclopedia entries, something to give the flavor of the graveyard–enough to whet your appetite for travel–illustrated with my photographs or postcards from my collection.
In my travels, I’ve discovered that graveyards are really very fragile. All it takes is a windstorm, a flood, or a lightning bolt to do irreparable harm, not to mention the kind of damage a determined teenager can do. Cemeteries are vulnerable if they are not visited. My mission is to get people to go. The least I can do for the pleasure cemeteries have given me is to inspire and encourage other people to visit for themselves.
Thanks for stopping by.
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