Today, May 15, is Katherine Anne Porter’s 133rd Birthday, which makes her a Taurus!
Taureans are considered to be tenacious individuals who value honesty and enjoy the finer things in life. They are practical, reliable, affectionate, resentful, stubborn, and persistent. This stereotype rings true for Porter who was opinionated, dedicated to her craft, and didn’t abide hearsay. Her more indulgent side can be seen in her fine tastes in clothing and furnishings she collected, including 16th century benches, stools, and chapel chairs, as well as an 18th century Louis XV fruitwood sofa, which are on display in the Katherine Anne Porter Room in Hornbake Library. The room recreates the ambiance of Porter’s home in the Spring Valley neighborhood of the District of Columbia where Porter lived from 1964 to 1969
Included in Porter’s personal library are copies of The Astrological Cookbook, The Compleat Astrologer, and Taureau (a French edition on her star sign). However, there are no annotations in these books, apart from Porter’s comment that The Astrologer Cookbook is “the worst cookbook I ever saw.”
Porter spent many years researching Cotton Mather, a puritan clergyman involved in the Salem witch trials. During her research, she explored different tools of witchcraft, including astrology, which sparked an interest in her own sign. When she had her star chart mapped out, astrologists were concerned about a lack of water in her chart, leading them to encourage Porter to be more open and aware of her emotions and the emotions of others.
Porter was moved by the stars. After watching a comet one night she mused, “I felt less than a grain of sand, less than an atom, but still no less alive, no less important for that.”
You can explore digitized letters by Katherine Anne Porter’s online in the online exhibit Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977.
Browse the finding aid to the Katherine Anne Porter papers to learn more about Porter’s hobbies and manuscripts!
Mattie Lewis is a student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program and Graduate Assistant with the Katherine Anne Porter Collection at UMD.