The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass

The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Helen Bass
The Secret World of Walter Anderson

The Secret World of Walter Anderson: A Candlewick Biography

The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass is a Candlewick Biography, one of a series of books for young readers that details a more important aspect in the life of a person of note—by Candlewick’s definition, one who somehow changed his or her world of science, art or history. Walter Anderson is a shining example that fits that category very, very well.

More about Walter Anderson

The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass tells the story of a man who loved nature and lived on the Mississippi Coast in the 1900s. He was a man who communed regularly with nature, who saw little value in trappings of everyday life, and had an amazing talent for capturing all that happened around him, especially in the place he loved to go most—Horn Island. Walter Anderson lived sparsely, yet created certain richness in his own world. The Secret World of Walter Anderson brings young readers into that world and allows them to follow along on his journeys to an abandoned island that housed all the inspiration he needed to create beautiful and intricate art that would one day become his legacy.

Walter Anderson: Surviving Horn Island

We are told how Walter survived on rations packed in metal garbage cans brought along on the trip or on food that washed up along the shore when he stayed on Horn Island. We are told of his interest in the wildlife that populated the island and how he tried to rescue sick and wounded creatures, painting them, sometimes after death, as he recognized their beauty even after passing. Walter kept logs and journals detailing his times on Horn Island, where—without the pressures of society—he painted happily for days and even weeks at a time.

Walter Anderson’s Legacy

At the age of 62, Walter Anderson—the man who had survived snakebites and hurricanes—became fatally ill and left the world. Upon his death, his widow opened his ever-locked studio to find the small room beautifully covered in a mural that depicted the animals, trees and plants of a sunny, Gulf-Coast day. A zinnia painted on the ceiling crowned the small space. It was the first time another’s eyes had fallen on the room he had created, a window to his secret world.

The Secret World of Walter Anderson gives young readers a taste of a talent that emerged from a man who saw the world in a different light than most and undoubtedly created a more beautiful world for all those who enjoyed his work, both throughout his life and after his death.

The Secret World of Walter Anderson speaks to the life of a local artist who left the world richer for his pursuits.  What local artists have added richness and depth to your life? Why do you enjoy their work?

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