Elizabeth Akers Allen and Benjamin Paul Akers traveled to Rome together, and later married. Elizabeth, a poet, was born in Strong, Maine. Paul, a sculptor, was born in Westbrook, Maine. Their marriage in 1860 was shortened when he died of tuberculosis at the age of 36. Four recent acquisitions document their world and their fleeting time together.
Two are editions of the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. One is inscribed by Elizabeth: “This book belonged to Paul Akers – I think Hawthorne gave it to him; he gave it to me in 1859 and made the cipher on the title page. Elizabeth Akers.” Hawthorne and Paul Akers traveled together in Italy. The other book is inscribed by her daughter Grace Barton Allen Cook, Elizabeth’s daughter with her third husband Elijah Marshall Allen: “This book was the property of Paul Akers, and afterward of my mother.”
Another book is Doctor Antonio: a tale of Italy by Giovanni Ruffini. Elizabeth inscribes this one: “This book was Paul’s, before I knew him. He considered it the best book of Italian life. He gave it to me in 1859 and made the cipher on the green page – some one stole the frontispiece on this leaf.”
Finally, there is Undine: a romance by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque. This is inscribed by Elizabeth: “Given me by Paul. Elizabeth Akers, 1860.” There is also an inscription in another hand, probably Paul’s: “Paul Akers. Florence, 1855.”
These four books (S.C. 1378, S.C. 1378a, S.C. 1379, and S.C. 1380) offer a glimpse into the world of two creative souls, and their life and times.