Arts Desk

Long-Delayed Book of R.L. Dickinson Drawings to Be Published Next Month

After gestating for nearly a decade, A Washington Sketchbook: Drawings by R. L. Dickinson, 1917-18, has finally lined up the funding needed for publication.

Last time we checked in with author Gail Spilsbury, her book had a publisher—Chesapeake Book Co.—but still needed to complete additional fundraising to become reality. Now funding is lined up, and the book is set to launch in a Nov. 9 event at the City Tavern Club, located in a historic building in Georgetown.

Spilsbury’s book resurrects the work of Dickinson, a long-forgotten ob-gyn who made extensive sketches as a sideline during a government posting in Washington. The book grew out of Spilsbury’s previous book, an illustrated history of Rock Creek Park published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2003.

Dickinson “captured a way of life that is gone entirely,” Spilsbury said in April. “It had no technological distractions, which increase our pace and style of living and working.”

When Spilsbury finished the Dickinson book in 2005, the Library of Congress—the repository of the physician-artist’s key papers—had planned to publish it. But with the downturn in the economy, the library gave up the project in 2009. The C&O Canal Trust stepped in, and Spilsbury spent the past six months raising enough money to go to press.

Inquiries about the book can be directed to Robert I. Cottom of the Chesapeake Book Co., rcottom@gmail.com or 410-467-2269.

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