To arise in the frosty morning at the point of daybrak, climb the hill and cut wood, while the sky lightens above the trees; to eat this wholesome, sweet food(;) to use my body, hands and mind at the endless work I have to do; to read by the firelight, to sleep warm and snug; all this shared and enjoyed by my loving partner – what manner of a man originated this idea of a happier life beyond death?
– H.H., April 1955
On his marriage to Anna:
“I do not know just how it came about… it has all happened naturally,
as something growing into ripeness, or a flowing together of water.”
(Harlan Hubbard Journals, 1929-1944)
On his purpose for the Shantyboat voyage to New Orleans:
“I had no theories to prove. I merely wanted to try living by my own hands, independent as far as possible from a system of division of labor in which the participant loses most of the pleasure of making and growing things for himself. I wanted to bring in my own fuel and smell its sweet smell as it burned on the hearth I had made. I wanted to grow my own food, catch it in the river, or forage after it. In short, I wanted to do as much as I could for myself, because I had already realized from partial experience the inexpressible joy of so doing.”
(Shantyboat, published 1953)
On his artistic style:
“There must be a perfect balance between the abstract
and reality in a picture. Every shape, line and color must be
part of the design and still be an effective part of the picture, true to life.”
(Journal entry, 1939)
On his artistic development:
“I was too independent to go on to art school and do what they were talking about. And I didn’t want to follow the modern art that was coming up. I always had a feeling I wanted to paint landscapes, but I wanted to paint exactly as I saw it. When I would make a picture of a boat, I wanted accurate construction and proportion to make it realistic. I’d take no liberties with it. But I soon found you could paint realistically and still create this abstract design. When you look at my work, the design is there. But when you look at it, you’d say it’s realistic; that there is no design because the realism is not influenced or sacrificed by the other. But it’s there.”
KET video “Life on the Fringe of Society,” 1981
On his subsistent lifestyle in Payne Hollow:
“Things that other men did were not for me. And I know
that they would never understand what I was trying to do.
It’s a different set of values, entirely.”
KET video “Harlan Hubbard,” 1988
Hubbard Books and Videos:
written and illustrated by Harlan Hubbard.
New York: Dodd, Mead, 1953.
"Payne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society,"
by Harlan Hubbard. New York: Crowell, 1974.
"Shantyboat: A River Way of Life,"
by Harlan Hubbard. Lexington, KY:
University Press of Kentucky, 1977.
"Harlan Hubbard Journals, 1929-1944,"
by Harlan Hubbard, ed. by Vincent Kohler & David F. Ward,
Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1987.
"Oyo: An Ohio River Anthology,"
by Don Wallis. Yellow Springs, OH: Oyo Press, 1989.
"Harlan Hubbard: Life and Works,"
by Wendell Berry. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1990.
"Shantyboat on the Bayous," by Harlan Hubbard. Lexington, KY:
University Press of Kentucky, 1990.
"Time, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream,"
by Judith Moffett. A novel with characters and situations based on
Anna and Harlan Hubbard. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
written and illustrated by Harlan Hubbard, ed. by Don Wallis.
Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1994.
"A Visit With Harlan Hubbard"
by Wade Hall. Occasional Papers Series. Lexington, Ky:
University Press of Kentucky, 1996
"The Woodcuts of Harlan Hubbard: From the Collection of Bill Caddell,"
by Bill Caddell, with foreward by Wendell Berry. Lexington, KY:
University Press of Kentucky, 1994.
"Life on the Fringe,"
a video by John Morgan, 1981. Interviews with Anna and Harlan Hubbard.
"The Harlan Hubbard Story,"
a video by WAVE-TV News, Channel 3, Louisville, Ky.
A documentary on the Hubbards and their way of life in Payne Hollow, Ky.
"Kentucky Life: Harlan Hubbard,"
a 1998 video by KET. Updating the Legacy –
interviews with people influenced by the Hubbards.
“Anna Hubbard: Out of the Shadows,”
by Mia Cunningham. University Press of Kentucky (Pub. May 2001). 224 pages. Anna Eikenhout (1902-1986) was an honors graduate of Ohio State University, a fine-arts librarian, a skilled pianist, and an avid reader in three languages. Harlan Hubbard (1900-1988), a little-known painter and would-be shantyboater, seemed an unlikely husband, but together they lived a life out of the pages of Thoreau’s “Walden.” Much of what is known about the Hubbards comes from Harlan’s books and journals. Concerning the seasons and the landscape, his writing was rapturous, yet he was emotionally reticent when discussing human affairs in general or Anna in particular. Yet it was through her efforts that their life on the river was truly civilized. Visitors to Payne Hollow recall Anna as a generous, gracious hostess, whose intelligence and artistry made the small house seem grander than a mansion. Mia Cunningham grew up in a house built by Harlan, visited the couple each summer as a child, and enjoyed a 28-year correspondence with Anna. She lives with her husband in Fairfax County, Va.
Many Harlan Hubbard books and videos may be purchased from Bill Caddell at the Frankfort Community Public Library, Frankfort, IN. Contact Caddell at (765) 654-8746. Proceeds benefit the Anna and Harlan Hubbard School of Living. Visit Caddell's Internet website at: www.dcwi.com/hubbard/.
Harlan Hubbard's original journal manuscripts and correspondence, dating from 1903 to 1987, are available to researchers at the University of Louisville Archives and Records Center, Louisville, KY. (502) 852-6674.
Hubbard material is also available at Hanover College's Duggan Library, Hanover, IN.
Sixteen Hubbard paintings can be viewed at Hanover College's Brown Campus Center. The collection and related activities receive financial support through The Hubbard Endowment Fund. Contact Kris Kindelsperger at (812) 866-7011.
Hanover College philosophy professor Robert Rosenthal heads the Friends of the Hubbards organization and newsletter. Contact him at (812) 866-7215.
A gift of 21 paintings and other works are sometimes on display at the Behringer-Crawford Museum, Devou Park, 1600 Montague, Covington, KY. Contact director Laura Risch
at (606) 491-4033.
Meg Shaw, art librarian at the University of Kentucky M.I. King Library, has collected hundreds of Hubbard images on color slides. Contact her at (606) 257-4908.
Flo Fowler Burdine, a Hanover College graduate, catalogued nearly 500 Hubbard images on color slides for the collection at the Anna and Harlan Hubbard School of Living in Frankfort, IN. Contact her or William Caddell at (765) 654-8746.