Jessica Kerwin Jenkins began her career in New York writing for Women’s Wear Daily and for W, later becoming the magazine’s European editor in Paris. Assignments took her all over Europe, and beyond, from Madrid to Copenhagen to Athens to Venice to Ibiza to Tallin, visiting ateliers, villas, palazzos, chateaux, and haciendas. She had dinner in the Tower of London and a rude massage in a steam bath in Tunis. In Jaipur she played in a surreal elephant polo match for charity.
The quirky, historical episodes detailed in Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, her first book, sprang directly from a file kept on her desk while working as a reporter, one bulging with scribbled scraps, articles, quotes and curious images—anything that lit a spark, dazzled or “or made the world seem suddenly vast and strange,” as she describes it.
“The central idea behind the Encyclopedia,” she explains, “is that with searching, beauty can be found in the most unlikely places, that folly is essential, and that luxury doesn’t mean spending lots of money.”
Kerwin Jenkins second book, All the Time in the World: A Book of Hours, followed late in 2013, delving into the many whimsical delights pleasure seekers have pursued throughout history. It’s an agenda turned upside down in favor of the impractical—drinking hot cocoa, taking a nap, waltzing until until dawn, while providing an antidote to the contemporary cult of “getting things done.”
Kerwin Jenkins has written for Vogue and The New York Times, and lives with her family on the coast of Maine.