Friday, July 24, 2009

The book no one wanted anyone to read. Behind the Scenes by Elizabeth Keckley

I wish I had a first edition of this book. However I have a lovely Lakeside Classics version. Lakeside Classics are printed once a year. I have enjoyed reading it. I gather there were many years ago who were not happy at all it ever existed.Elizabeth Keckley was Mary Lincoln's dressmaker. She was also a confident and friend to the former first lady. She was also in life a slave and a brilliant woman. She worked very hard to purchase her freedom. She was a great dressmaker and gained a reputation for her skills. She made dresses for the wives of a number of famous politicians. In the early 1860's she got a job that was to be her greatest. The dressmaker for Mary Lincoln. A woman of great taste and powerful emotions. A woman who had the ear of the man who ran the United States during it's most trying times. Her emotional state is chronicled to a degree in this book.
She was behind the scenes to many events and conversations. She wrote a book in the late 1860's about her relationship with the troubled first lady and her husband Abraham Lincoln. In her book she made them all a little too human for many, including Mary Lincoln. Robert Lincoln was not at all pleased with the book.
The press against it was quite strong. Keckley never received any money from her original book, and died in poverty in 1907. Her book is a wonderful window into the Lincoln White House. Perhaps one of the more wonderful exchanges in the book describes Lincoln running his fingers through his son's hair as he rested beside him. Or of Lincoln proudly announcing that his goats in the back yard recognized him and he would yell, laugh and wave at them. Lastly it showed the human tragedy of the death of their son Willie. Lincoln was shown to be more human in this book than any before. Perhaps that is why is was not liked. I loved it. I recommend you to read it.