Henry Beston's Cape Cod: Inspiration for a National Seashore

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Don Wilding, the co-founder of the nonprofit Henry Beston Society on Cape Cod and author of the book, Henry Beston’s Cape Cod, has presented this program on Cape Cod and across New England extensively since 2001. Beston’s book, The Outermost House, was written in 1927 after Beston spent a solitary year in a 20x16 cottage on Eastham’s outer beach. The Outermost House is now considered an American classic on the level of the works of Thoreau, Muir and other noted nature writers, and was cited as a major influence on the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961. Noted author Rachel Carson said that The Outermost House was the only book to ever influence her writing.

Wilding, 53, and the Beston Society are now producing a documentary film about Beston’s story and his influence on the Cape Cod National Seashore, in association with filmmaker Christopher Seufert and Mooncusser Films of Chatham.

Wilding’s presentation includes over 150 slides of Beston and his famous cottage, along with footage from the documentary film project. The program tells how the Quincy native, still shaken by his experiences as an ambulance driver in France during World War I, took to writing fairy tales and eventually found the peace of mind he was looking for on Cape Cod’s outer beach. In doing so, he not only found himself as a writer, but his prose from The Outermost House turned up in National Park Service reports about Cape Cod that sealed its establishment as a national treasure.

Wilding will be available to sign copies of his book, along with copies of the DVD, Henry Beston’s Cape Cod: Meditations of the Outer Beach. The DVD, a fundraiser for the documentary film project, includes samples of interviews and scenic footage that have been gathered so far.

This program is for students, but also open to the general public.

For more information on the Beston Society, call (508) 246-7242 or visit www.henrybeston.org.