Posted by: jeannineatkins | August 17, 2015

The Isles of Shoals

Slathered in sunscreen, with hats we needed but sweaters we didn’t, my sister, two of her daughters and I set aboard the Thomas Laighton at The Isle of Shoals Steamship Company in Portsmouth, NH yesterday. I wanted to set foot on one of the nine islands that I spend a lot of time looking at from the coast of Maine. I learned that some of the islands are in Maine and some in New Hampshire, and from them you can see Massachusetts, too.


Above is White Island where I’ve read about Celia Thaxter spending some years of her childhood. Her father, Thomas Laighton, was the lighthouse keeper. He also helped develop the islands, including see that an inn was built on Star Island, which Celia would later help run. In the nineteenth century, many well-to-do guests came to escape the heat and horsey smell of Boston, including poet Longfellow and novelist Hawthorne. Celia was also a respected poet and writer at the time, as well as a talented china painter.


The big inn on Star Island, where we landed and walked, is now used as a retreat center for UU and UCC groups and families. I love how they nod to this history with a room with a view and photos of notables from yore.


This picture is of Celia Thaxter’s brother, Oscar, who lived on the small island for about ninety years.


We walked around and saw scenes like this.


Here’s a picture of the tallest grave in New Hampshire taken from inside the small stone church.


Across the water on Appledore Island, marine labs are operated by Cornell and UNH and Celia Thaxter’s gardens have been revived. I want to go back and see those, as well as sit on the rocks and spend some time in that welcoming writing room at the inn. Or maybe just to look at one the lonelier islands.




  1. Love the photographs, Jeannine, and the rugged beauty of these island sights.How marvelous that some have this strong writing connection, too. And, that you had the perfect day to island hop.

    • Tara, yes, perfect weather for blue sea and big rocks!

  2. So wonderful, Jeannine. What a lovely prospect – to see the gardens of Celia Thaxter!

    • Fun to see up closer what I see from a distance!

  3. Beautiful post and photos. Sounds like a great day, with the right mix of company and introspection!

    • Thanks, Kelly. Yes, it was a good day.

  4. very interesting! i have many friends who go to Star Island, it was enlightening to hear of it in this context

    • It is a cool place, although I expect you’d prefer the bigger offerings of Block Island!

  5. I believe May Sarton wrote about visiting Star Island for an arts festival.

    • I need to read more May Sarton! Thanks for letting me know, Jenn.

  6. Such gorgeous pictures – up the coastline from the sea islands here, but such a world away. Thanks for sharing your special day trip and the literary connections!

    • So fun to share a coast, even if many miles between. I miss you!

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