The W.H. Stark House Classics Book Club

Join The W.H. Stark House Classics Book Club as we explore classic works of literature on select Thursday evenings this fall from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Inspired by Miriam Lutcher Stark’s book club founded in 1893, this club will meet quarterly to explore titles related to the collection at The W.H. Stark House.

On August 8, book club discussion will cover “Evangeline: the story of Acadie,” Henry Longfellow’s romance poem about the migration of French Acadians into Louisiana, which Miriam Stark’s book club first read together in 1898.

The W.H. Stark House Classics Book Club is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Advanced registration is encouraged.

This program is full. Stay tuned for details of our next book!

About August’s Selection – “Evangeline”

Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy. Published 1902 by The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis. The W.H. Stark House, Orange, Texas, O.D.2013.225

“Evangeline,” a romance poem by American writer Henry Longfellow, follows a young Acadian girl named Evangeline as she travels from her home in Canada to Louisiana. It also reveals the origin story of a special part of Southeast Texas culture.

The story of “Evangeline” begins in the 1750s in Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia) on the eve of the forced exile of French Acadians from their homes by British soldiers. Longfellow’s tale follows Evangeline Bellefontaine, who marries Gabriel Lajeunesse just before the British military arrives at their village. In the midst of the chaos, the newlyweds are separated as their community is forced to leave their homeland forever. The poem follows Evangeline across the United States, from the Ozark Mountains to Pennsylvania, as she searches for her husband.

Miriam Stark’s book club read “Evangeline” together in 1898, and it will be taken up again by The W.H. Stark House Classics Book Club on August 8, 2024. Club discussions will highlight The Stark Family’s personal copy of “Evangeline” and will feature a brief presentation by The W.H. Stark House staff about the poem’s history and what it would have meant to Miriam Stark and the women in her book club.

Miriam Lutcher Stark reading to her grandsons Bill (left) and Homer (right), ca. 1925. Eunice R. Benckenstein Library and Archive.

About Miriam’s Book Club

Miriam’s book club was first called the “Shakespeare Reading Club.” It was founded by a group of women in Orange who met weekly to read and discuss plays by William Shakespeare, including Coriolanus and The Comedy of Errors.

The group later turned to the study of American and European history and literature and changed their name to the “Ladies Reading Club.” This group met every Friday at The W.H. Stark House from 1898 into the 1920s.