The Sweets of Solitude, 2010
The Sweets of Solitude: Instructions to Mankind How They May Be Happy in a Miserable World is the title of an essay written by William Wilson, and published posthumously. Wilson, known as the Pennsylvania Hermit, inhabited the cave system in these photographs between the years 1802-1821, the last years of his life. It is said that Wilson withdrew into seclusion after he failed to halt the execution of his sister, Elizabeth, who was charged with the murder of her twin sons. Wilson had obtained a pardon for his sister and arrived, by various accounts, mere moments after her hanging. Upon site of his sisters lifeless body William was reared from his horse and fell to the muddy earth near her body. According to legend, when William rose from the mud beneath the gallows tree "his hair turned prematurely white and his face was marked by the lines of old age. His speech was reduced to gibberish." Following the tragedy Wilson traversed South Eastern Pennsylvania, eventually settling into the limestone cavern on the Schuylkill river that he would call home until his death.