Things have been slow on the cemetery book front this year. While I’ve been waiting to sign another contract, I’ve gotten two fiction books out:
What if Romeo had wings and Juliet a barbed tail?
Angelus Rose is the second novel in the succubus/angel series I was writing with Brian Thomas. Of interest to cemetery folk is that the book visits three cemeteries in LA. It’s available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, Indie Bound, and Smashwords.
Finally, my brand-new collection of short stories, Unsafe Words, came out on Sunday.
From the back cover:
In the first full-length collection of her edgy, award-winning short stories, Loren Rhoads punctures the boundaries between horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction in a maelstrom of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. Ghosts, succubi, naiads, vampires, the Wild Hunt, and the worst predator in the woods stalk these pages, alongside human monsters who follow their cravings past sanity or sense.
Unsafe Words is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indie Bound. It should be up at Bookshop.org and Smashwords soon.
I hope to get back to work on the cemetery updates soon. In the meantime, tell me…have you had a cemetery adventure lately?
Considering I didn’t have a new book out in 2018, I was pleased with the attention that 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die continued to draw. It opened doors for me to speak at a bunch of new (to me) venues last year, too. Hopefully, I persuaded some new people to check out the beauty of these fragile historic places.
I put a collection of my cemetery essays up on Wattpad in July and August. Graveyard Field Trips: A Memoir gathers essays I published on Gothic.Net and GothicBeauty.com, along with the introduction to the original edition of Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries.
At the moment, I have a proposal out for my new book, The Pioneer Cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area, and another proposal for a nonfiction book with Lisa Morton, president of the Horror Writers Association, that I’m excited about. Hopefully those books will find homes in 2019.
I’m not sure what cemetery project I’ll work on after those are done. Maybe I’ll finally finish the second volume of Death’s Garden.
I wrote 9 cemetery columns for the Horror Writers Association’s newsletter about the histories of burial and cremation, cemetery ghost stories, and gravestone iconography.
“The Madam’s Haunted Tomb” served as part of the Ghosts in the Graveyard series on Roxanne Rhoads’s All Things Halloween blog. I talked about a ghost legend centered on New Orleans’ Metairie Cemetery.
Here on CemeteryTravel.com, I was proud to put together a two-part series on the “Resting Places of Horror Icons.” Here’s part one.
At Cypress Lawn in Colma in September
I spoke to Angela Hennessy’s “Over My Dead Body” class at the California College of the Arts in February. My lecture, called “Memento Mori: Even Graveyards Die,” covered the demolition of the historic cemeteries of San Francisco.
In April, for the “Memento Mori” evening of the Reimagine End of Life week, I talked about the dismantling of “Laurel Hill Cemetery: San Francisco’s Garden Cemetery” at the Swedish American Hall.
I talked about how I came to write 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at the Association for Gravestone Studies conference in Danbury, Connecticut in June.
In September, I showed slides of my favorite cemeteries from 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.
Professor Steven Brown invited me to talk about cemeteries to his horticultural class as San Francisco’s City College on October 1, 2018.
My last lecture of the year was near to my heart. For years, I’ve wanted to trace the development of San Francisco’s Old Mission Cemetery through tourist postcards. I finally got to do it as part of the Odd Salon’s “Cemetery Stories” event during the Litcrawl on 10/20/18. My lecture was called “Postcards from History.”
199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die continued to get some press attention this year, even though the book’s been out more than a year. Most of these stories were nice surprises when I stumbled across them online.
A catch-all category for things that made me smile this year.
199 Cemeteries made the preliminary ballot for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award in Nonfiction. While the book didn’t advance to the final ballot, it was still an honor to make the long list.
Finally, I got to provide a cover blurb for the first time. I am really excited about Erin-Marie Legacey’s Making Space for the Dead, which is coming from Cornell University Press in April 2019. You can preorder it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RkuyiT.
It’s time to clear out some of my extra cemetery books. There will be more, but for now, here’s the list of what I have for sale. Let me know (either in the comments below or through the Contact Me form above) if you are interested in any of these and give me your mailing address, so I can check the postage for you. PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE POSTAGE.
I take paypal.
The Green-Wood Cemetery Walk #1: Battle Hill and Back Walk #2: Valley & Sylvan Waters
by Jeffrey I. Richman
Published by The Green-Wood Cemetery, 2001. Spiral bound. Two walking tours of this lovely garden cemetery. I bought the books from the cemetery, but they’ve never been used.
$20 for both.
Guide to Abney Park Cemetery
by Paul Joyce
Essay, listing of interesting graves, some b/w photographs of one of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries.
Rare, out-of-print. In good shape.
Second edition from 1994.
by Enric Miralles and Carme Pinos
Very rare architectural study of a new modern cemetery in Barcelona. These start at $100 on Amazon.
The edges have discolored very slightly over time. Published in 1996.
Tomb Sculpture: Its Changing Aspects from Ancient Egypt to Bernini
by Erwin Panofsy
Henry N. Abrams, 1970. Paperback reading copy with some shelfwear. This collects 4 lectures given by a scholar who was considered the “greatest interpreter of the meaning of art.” It contains 471 crisp black & white photos of tomb sculpture. A really lovely book, but showing its age.
R.I.P. Memorial Wall Art
by Martha Cooper and Joseph Sciorra
1994, Henry Holt. Paperback with some slight edgewear, but still very tightly bound. This is a study of memorial murals painted when someone in the neighborhood died, often by violence. The photos are full color throughout. If you’re interested in urban memorialization or graffiti, this is for you.
Milltown Cemetery: A Brief History
by Raymond J. Quinn and Joe Baker
Undated 1st edition signed by Joe Baker. An oversized saddlestitched paperback focuses on a Nationalist cemetery in Belfast, examining the history of the Troubles as recorded in the gravestones and news stories of the day. This is not available on Amazon.
Two Acres of Irish History: A Study through Time of Friar’s Bush and Belfast 1570-1918
by Eamon Phoenix
2001, Ulster Historical Foundation. An oversized saddlestitched paperback focuses on Friar’s Bush, the oldest Christian site in Belfast, with ties to St. Patrick. The cemetery contains a cholera pit and memorials to historic citizens of Belfast. It contains a map, walking tour, and some b/w photos.
Here Rests in Honored Glory: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery
By R. Conrad Stein
Weekly Reader Books, 1979. Hardcover, in great shape. A kids’ book on the cemetery’s history. Great for introducing a kid to the appeal of cemeteries.
by Robert Blair
Spiral bound, letterpress printed by Cary G. Birdwell.
Just an unillustrated copy of this lovely, morbid poem. The poem was first published in 1747.
Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death
by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
Collins, 2006. Mary Roach says this is “A must-read for anyone who plans on dying.” No photos, but the text is inclusive. Trade paperback reading copy with dog-eared pages.
The story behind “The Mystery of Life” plus a Pictorial Map and Guide to the Famous Art Treasures of Forest Lawn and another Forest Lawn brochure
Saddlestitched. Discoloration on cover from a price sticker.
Rare advertising booklet from the original Forest Lawn about one of their over-the-top fountain sculptures.
Tombstone Tourist: Musicians
by Scott Stanton
First edition from 1998. This is a very comprehensive encyclopedia of musicians’ graves around the world, with a particular focus on the graves of bluesmen. Autographed but cover is not in great shape. Tightly bound. One dog-eared page.
I ALSO HAVE NEW COPIES OF:
Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel
by Loren Rhoads Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel contains 35 graveyard travel essays, which visit more than 50 cemeteries, churchyards, and gravesites across the globe. More info here.
2nd edition. New trade paperback.
Cemetery Travels Notebook
by Loren Rhoads The Cemetery Travels Notebook is the place to keep field notes from your own cemetery adventures. It features 80 lined pages, interspersed with 20 lush full-page color photographs of cemeteries from Paris to Tokyo, with stops at Sleepy Hollow, San Francisco, and all points between, to inspire your wanderlust.
New trade paperback.
Sacred: New Orleans Funerary Grounds
by Elizabeth Huston
Photomoinium Press, first edition paperback. Lovely black & white — and some colorized — photos document the cemeteries of New Orleans before Katrina struck. A nice companion with Consecrated Ground.
The Victorian Celebration of Death
by James Stevens Curl
First edition, hardcover. Sutton, 2000. This book covers everything from cemeteries to mourning jewelry, exploring the history and the philosophical change in the way the dead were regarded in Victorian England. Full of pretty black and white images, from photos to etchings.
The Mexican Day of the Dead
by Chloe Sayer
Shambala, 1990. Small paperback. Some dog-ears. Lots of color and b/w photographs. This book helped bring Dia de los Muertos in an English-reading audience.
The Last Laugh: A Completely New Collection of Funny Old Epitaphs
by Gail Peterson
Published by Hallmark Editions.
Small hardcover with dust jacket. Jacket has small rips. A collection of very silly epitaphs, perfect for a gift for just the right person.
Consecrated Ground: Funerary Art of New Orleans
by Lisa L. Cook
Pixieco Press, 1998. This HUGE (15” x 12”) beautiful hardcover collection is absolutely stuffed with black and white photographs. It’s signed by the photographer. This will cost extra to mail.
Graven Images: New England Stonecarving and its Symbols 1650-1815
by Allan I. Ludwig
1966, Wesleyan University Press. First edition, paperback. Still tightly bound, but the bottom edge has foxed and there’s some slight shelfwear. This is the masterwork that expanded the study of stonecarving in New England. It is packed full of black & white photos of skulls, skeletons, and deaths heads.
Tomorrow is the magic day. 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die officially comes out.
It’s been an amazing ride so far. An editor from Black Dog & Leventhal (an imprint of Hachette) contacted me last September to ask if I’d thought about writing a book about cemeteries around the world. Not even 13 months later, it’s going to be unveiled.
We all have quiet, calm places that we go to during times of transition. Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery has always been that place for me.
My first encounter with the cemetery was in 1988, when I was at Georgia State (campus is a short walk). I had the opportunity to be in the Georgia State Players production of Our Town. I played the character who comes back after being gone for many years and strikes up a conversation with the gravedigger. The person playing the gravedigger and I decided to come out to Oakland Cemetery and practice our parts there to give us the authenticity of a cemetery.
In 1989, I was looking for a place to become a tour guide. The Atlanta Preservation Center was looking for guides, so I began my lifelong love of and dedication to the cemetery. When I first started doing tours, there were just 15 of us. Now, there are over 145 guides and gift shop volunteers. At the beginning, we each did tours every three weeks; now we do one about every two months.
I started leading tours before the bell tower was opened as the gift shop, with refreshments and bathroom facilities. Back in the beginning, you brought your own water for the tour. On one of my first tours, I parked the car halfway along the tour route. On that incredibly hot summer day, we all hovered around the car and drank water at the mid-point of the tour.
In the early 1990s, I became friends with the sexton of the cemetery. He let me know of a couple grave plots for sale near the grave of Bobby Jones, who won the grand slam of golf in 1930: the U.S. Amateur, the U.S. Open, the British Amateur, and the British Open. I purchased the plots, but since I am not a golfer myself, I will probably spend eternity chasing golf balls for Bobby Jones.
The two most-visited graves in Oakland are Bobby Jones (1902-1971) and Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949), author of Gone with the Wind. That book has been translated into over 40 languages. In 1939, the movie premiered in Atlanta. You can still visit the Georgian Terrace, the hotel where Clark Gable (Rhett Butler) and Vivian Leigh (Scarlet O’Hara) stayed during the premiere. I just recently had lunch there and could still feel the ambiance of the Gone with the Wind days.
I became fascinated by the Victorian symbols throughout Oakland Cemetery and put together a special Victorian Symbolism Tour in 2000. (When I created it, there were only 4 special tours offered. Now there are more than 15.) In 2010, I turned that tour into a book called Sacred Symbols of Oakland: A Guide to the Many Sacred Symbols of Atlanta’s Oldest Public Cemetery, which is still for sale in the Oakland gift shop. (Ed. note: And on Amazon!)
Because I’ve spent so much time in Oakland, I thought it might be fun to share my 5 favorite monuments.
All the cemetery photos in this article are by Dinny Harper Addison. Used by permission.
“Our Thomas” was placed in 1870, a memorial for a child who died way too young. Thomas has turned into a baby angel, a guardian and messenger from God. He kneels on a pillow, which suggests sleeping, because the Christian Victorians believed that death was a resting place before the Second Coming. Next to this monument is a broken column covered with a mantle. A broken column signifies that the life of the person buried there was cut short. The mantle symbolizes the area between life and death. If you are on one side of the mantle, you are alive. On the other side, you are dead.
Sculptures like “Our Thomas” were originally designed without wings to grace English gardens. Wings were added later, designed for cemeteries to convey how many children died so young from diphtheria, smallpox, and influenza because vaccinations were not available. These child angels appear in Victorian cemeteries throughout the United States.
Notice the skyline of Atlanta in the background of the photograph. One of the stunning juxtapositions in Oakland is the old historical part of the cemetery against the vista of contemporary buildings outside its walls. At night, when all the buildings are lit, they cast an eerie glow on the monuments.
The McNamara angel was completed around 1901. Angels act as guardians, messengers, and protectors of the dead. The Latin cross implies resurrection, referring to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. Notice the “IHS” on the cross, the first three letters, transliterated, of “Jesus” in Greek. On the angel’s brow sits a five-pointed star, which indicates heavenly wisdom. She holds a utensil to write down the good deeds of the person buried below so that he or she can have eternal life.
On March 14, 2008, the cemetery was hit by a major tornado. Even though the cross behind her toppled, our angel remained standing, protecting the area around her.
During World War I, Atlanta Irish immigrants buried their dead in this part of the cemetery. Since they did not have permanent homes, male immigrants of draft age listed Oakland as their residence. The Atlanta War Office could not understand why so many men listed one place as their residence.
The angel, minus a few fingers because of the tornado, points towards heaven, guiding souls. If you have visited Victorian cemeteries throughout the United States, you have seen many things point towards heaven, including obelisks.
This is the Wife and Daughter Neal Monument, one of the prominent monuments on the Oakland Cemetery Overview Tour. It was completed in 1874 and shows the rich array of symbols the Victorians used to commemorate the dead.
The Celtic cross stands for eternal life and Christ sacrificing himself for our sins. The books are probably bibles: the closed one suggests a life guided to completion by the Scriptures; the open one illustrates the spiritual wisdom that leads to an eternal life heavenward, the direction of the statue’s gaze. The laurel wreath and palm branch signify victory over death and the triumph of eternal life.
This was the first gravesite to be part of Oakland’s Adopt-A-Plot Program, for which individuals and businesses volunteer to preserve and maintain designated monuments and their immediate surroundings.
The Gray Weeping Woman, completed in 1917, tells a story inherited from classical Greek mythology about Niobe, Queen of Thebes. Like most proud mothers, Niobe talked incessantly about her many children. Because she was supposed to be worshipping the goddess Leto, this bragging did not go over very well. Leto had her very powerful children Artemis and Apollo kill Niobe’s children.
In Victorian cemeteries, Niobe is portrayed as the eternally grieving mother. The legend of this particular monument is that, on a full moon night, you can see tears streaming down her face.
The wreath of laurel represents immortality, since the leaves never wilt or fade. Chiefly a symbol of victory, however, the wreath emanates a somber ambiguity when Niobe’s defeat is remembered.
This is the Lion of Atlanta, completed in 1894.The Atlanta Ladies Memorial erected “Lion of Atlanta” to honor approximately three thousand unknown Confederate dead buried in this area. The marble came from Tate, Georgia and was the largest piece quarried in the United States at the time.The sculpture by Canton, Georgia artist T.M Brady (1849-1907) portrays a lion lying on a Confederate battle flag. The lion embodies courage, majesty, strength, and valor. The firm foundation of the rock it lies on suggests that the soldiers died for a cause they believed in. The flag illustrates unity and the rifle indicates the power of the confederacy.
The Confederate lion is modeled after the Lion of Lucerne in Switzerland by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844). That sculpture was completed in 1819 as a memorial to Swiss Army Guards slain protecting Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI during the French Revolution.
The power and grandeur of Oakland Cemetery can be captured in the five images portrayed in this article, but they are not a substitute for an actual visit to this extraordinary outdoor museum. I have been very lucky that I found Oakland in 1988. I continue to learn new facts about the cemetery every time I visit.
Richard Waterhouse has led tours of Oakland Cemetery since 1989. In 2000, he designed an Oakland “ramble” that spotlighted its symbols. In 2006, he founded Waterhouse Symbolism to research and document gravestone symbols internationally. As part of the organization, Richard sends out a monthly e-newsletter on symbols throughout the world. If you want to subscribe, send him an email at rwsymbolism at gmail dot com.
Richard currently serves as Manager of Leadership Giving of Georgia Public Broadcasting Media in Atlanta, Georgia.
About the Death’s Garden project:
For the next year, I’m planning to put a cemetery essay up every Friday. If there is a cemetery that has touched your life, I would love to hear from you, particularly if there is one you visited on vacation. The submissions guidelines are here.
Click here to sign up for my monthly mailing list, which will keep you up to date on my speaking schedule and upcoming projects. As a thank you, you'll receive "4Elements," a short ebook that showcases one of my favorite cemetery essays, a travel essay, and two short stories, spanning from urban fantasy to science fiction.