A true-life detective story is what is in store for viewers on Apr. 29 from Wolfe. That end of April calendar date is the DVD street date for documentary filmmaker Michelle Boyaner’s Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson.
Imagine the following, you are a young woman — born just after the Civil War in the newly formed state of West Virginia — who moves to New York City at the age of 20 to become an artist. That’s the early, and quite daring life of Edith Lake Wilkinson.
For the next three decades she lived in New York, traveled the world and would spend many of her summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She painted, she lived and traveled with a woman named Fannie and her parent’s lawyer — a scoundrel by the named of George Rogers — saw an opportunity to swindle her of her inheritance by having her committed to Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in 1924.
All of her belongings — including paintings and notebooks — were packed up and shipped off to her nephew. For the next 33 years she was confined … and died; forgotten.
Pretty chilling that such a thing could actually happen. It’s the sort of stuff that Hollywood horror movies are made of.
For decades the trunks would sit in an attic until a distant relative paid a family visit, discovered the contents and brought many of the paintings home. Her daughter, the future Emmy-winning writer, Jane Anderson, grew up with Wilkinson’s paintings and over time began to wonder about her great aunt, the mystery of her life and all of those marvelous paintings.
Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson is that story … a detective story that would have made the great Sherlock Holmes proud. A life forgotten is rediscovered … an amazing story is discovered and retold.