The Sacred Space Auguste

Noelle Morrissette delivered a talk, “The Sacred Space of Virginia in Anne Spencer’s Writings,” as part of the opening event marking the first-ever exhibition of the poet’s writings at the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library.

Anne Spencer (1882-1975) was a celebrated poet of the New Negro Renaissance of the 1920s who drew prominent writers such as James Weldon Johnson, W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Sterling Brown to her home in Lynchburg, Virginia. She tended a beautiful garden and wrote in a little cottage behind the Spencer home at 1313 Pierce Street. Creating a world of beauty with hand and eye, and also a sheltering Eden from the fallen world of Jim Crow segregation that attempted to define life for African Americans, Spencer also openly defied this restrictive environment. She was a founding member of the Lynchburg chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and an advocate for women and Native Americans.

The exhibit features photographs of the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum taken by renowned architectural photographer John Mark Hall and letters, books, and manuscripts from the author’s papers. Spencer’s granddaughter Shaun Spencer-Hester spoke about her grandmother at the event, followed by Morrissette’s talk, drawn from her book manuscript, “Anne Spencer: Letters and Legacy.”

Morrissette was an Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library fellow at UVA in 2014.


For more information on Noelle Morrissette, visit her Faculty page.

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