Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (Penguin Classics)

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9780143039242: Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (Penguin Classics)
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Originally published in 1868—when it was attacked as an “indecent book” authored by a “traitorous eavesdropper”—Behind the Scenes is the story of Elizabeth Keckley, who began her life as a slave and became a privileged witness to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Keckley bought her freedom at the age of thirty-seven and set up a successful dressmaking business in Washington, D.C. She became modiste to Mary Todd Lincoln and in time her friend and confidante, a relationship that continued after Lincoln’s assassination. In documenting that friendship—often using the First Lady’s own letters—Behind the Scenes fuses the slave narrative with the political memoir. It remains extraordinary for its poignancy, candor, and historical perspective.

  • First time in Penguin Classics

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From the Back Cover:

Only a few years later, however, that relationship was in ruins, when this 1868 book created a scandal. Intended by Keckley to rehabilitate the reputation of the former First Lady--who had run up extensive debts on clothing and other luxuries while in the White House, and found herself unable to repay them after the President's assassination--the book was perceived instead as a betrayal of friendship.

Perhaps one of the first examples of celebrity gossip publishing gone awry, Behind the Scenes does, nevertheless, offer an insider perspective on the Lincoln White House that will intrigue armchair historians and fans of biography alike.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818–1907) was born a slave near Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia, and, after purchasing her freedom, became head of the Domestic Science Department at Wilberforce University in Ohio.
William L. Andrews is E. Maynard Adams Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of To Tell a Free Story and editor or coeditor of more than thirty books on African American literature.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781684221127: Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

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ISBN 10: 1684221129 ISBN 13: 9781684221127
Publisher: Martino Fine Books, 2017
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9780486451220: Behind the Scenes in the Lincoln White House: Memoirs of an African-American Seamstress (Civil War)

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9781545127391: Behind the scenes: Thirty years a slave, and four years in the white house

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