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Anne Elizabeth's Diary: A Young Artist's True Story    by Anne Elizabeth Rector, Kathleen Krull & Catherine Chermayeff order for
Anne Elizabeth's Diary
by Anne Elizabeth Rector
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Anne Elizabeth Rector, born in 1899, lived in New York City. She wrote - and illustrated - a diary almost a century ago in the year 1912. This book, Anne Elizabeth's Diary, includes her text and drawings, supplemented by sidebars (on topics such as the rights of women, Edward Lear's poem, The Jumblies, and the opening of the New York Public Library) that put them in historical context. The diary begins on January 1st, as Anne Elizabeth puts to use her Christmas gifts - art supplies from her father and the diary from her mother - and ends on December 25th.

As we read what she wrote, we get to know Anne Elizabeth as an only child with a passion for art. She gets in trouble for talking in class, needs help in arithmetic, wishes she could spend more time with her father (a pioneer photographer who travelled often), and argues with her sickly mother. She is very keen to go to summer art school and eventually wins parental agreement, despite concern about the cost. On the 4th of July, as the summer school date approaches Anne Elizabeth tells us she is 'like a firecracker myself'. Her sketches throughout the diary are delightful.

After we share the year in Anne Elizabeth Rector's life, from her own perspective, we find out 'What Happened Next?' She continued her artistic training, becoming 'an accomplished painter', quite an achievement for a young woman of that period. She also married, had a daughter and eventually granddaughters. This book concludes with 'Tips on Keeping a Diary' as 'a gift to yourself'. I second that advice, having kept my own diary at about the same age as Anne Elizabeth - reading it brings back all kinds of memories, just as Anne Elizabeth's Diary gives fascinating insights into life in her day.

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