Phyllis Rose is a member of our honorary board of directors and, with her husband, Babar co-creator Laurent de Brunhoff, a longtime resident of Key West. She is the author of several books, including Woman of Letters: A Life of Virginia Woolf (1978), Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages (1983), and The Year of Reading Proust (1997). Her work as an essayist and literary critic has been published by The New York Times, The Yale Review, and The American Scholar among other publications; and she was a professor of English at Wesleyan University for more than 35 years. Rose is also a photographer whose work captures several Key West literati, as well as the private island known as Ballast Key, where writers from Tennessee Williams to Robert Stone have found respite from the relative clamor of Key West.
Ballast Key, owned by David Wolkowsky (also a member of our honorary board), is situated about 9 miles west-southwest of Key West, between Man and Woman Keys in the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge. As private islands go, it is a casual affair. The island’s opulence is drawn entirely from the severe natural beauty it is part of. The houses (there are two of them) are grand in their way, but it is their utter lack of ceremony which impresses. Rose’s photographs of the island excellently capture its casual elegance. You’ll see a few of them here, along with two portraits. For the complete Ballast Key series, as well as more portraits of Key West writers including Robert Stone, Annie Dillard, William Wright, and Joy Williams, go to www.phyllisrose.net