Although F. Holland Day is remembered (some say imitated after this) as an early pioneer of art photography, he was also an influential book publisher whose 100+ titles included works by Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde. The sole inheritor of a fortune from his father, a Boston merchant, Day was able to indulge his artistic pursuits with abandon. He amassed a large collection of ephemera connected to John Keats and he built a summer camp in Little Good Harbor, Five Islands, Maine where he hosted other artists and youths who modeled for him. The lads were usually from Boston’s immigrant slums where Day often tutored poor children in reading. One of his young models was Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese immigrant, whom Day encouraged in his literary ambitions and achieved fame with his book of poetic essays, The Prophet, published in more than twenty languages. (Gibran is the source, often paraphrased, for everything from Beatles’ lyrics to Kennedy’s “Ask not...”) Day also photographed adults, notably himself as Christ, as well as prominent artists and gay leaders such as Edward Carpenter. A fire in 1904 destroyed Day’s studio and most of his negatives. He later lost interest in photography and died in 1933 at sixty-nine. Read Patricia Fanning's Through an Uncommon Lens: The Life and Photography of F. Holland Day for many revelations about turn of the century Boston.
British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (far left) did not begin his famous excavations at Knossos until 1900 when he was forty-nine. In 1878 someone had discovered a small portion of the ruins but it was only after Crete became an independent state free of Turkey that Evans was able to purchase the site and organize a dig on a necessarily massive scale. The "palace" is a series of 1,000 interlocking rooms. Luckily, Evans lived another forty-one years, plenty of time to unveil the structures he decided were source of the mythic King Minos and his fabled Minotaur; hence Evans' coining the term Minoan civilization from the 27th to 15th centuries BC. One aspect of real life there was bull dancing, a tradition in which youths cavorted with angry steers to great honor and, usually within three months, certain death. Mary Renault brings the practice alive in her novel The King Must Die about Theseus's Cretan adventures. (Below, my picture of bull dancing from Knossos and Henry Cavill as Theseus in Tarsem Singh's ancient Greek hotfest The Immortals.) Evans was Keeper of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum from 1894-1908 and many, many of the treasures he found at Knossos ended up in its collection. He is degayed in most accounts of his life but not in Cathy Gere's intriguing Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism.