The Mary Lincoln Enigma

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The Mary Lincoln Enigma

Author: Frank J. Williams and Michael Burkhimer
Publisher: University of Southern Illinois Press
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 392
Cover Price: $ 32.95

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Mary Lincoln is a lightning rod for controversy. Stories reveal widely different interpretations, and it is impossible to write a definitive version of her life that will suit everyone. The thirteen engaging essays in this collection introduce Mary Lincoln’s complex nature and show how she is viewed today.

The authors’ explanations of her personal and private image stem from a variety of backgrounds, and through these lenses—history, theater, graphic arts, and psychiatry—they present their latest research and assessments. Here they reveal the effects of familial culture and society on her life and give a broader assessment of Mary Lincoln as a woman, wife, and mother. Topics include Mary’s childhood in Kentucky, the early years of her marriage to Abraham, Mary’s love of travel and fashion, the presidential couple’s political partnership, and Mary’s relationship with her son Robert.

The fascinating epilogue meditates on Mary Lincoln’s universal appeal and her enigmatic personality, showcasing the dramatic differences in interpretations. With gripping prose and in-depth documentation, this anthology will capture the imagination of all readers.

Background Information

Mary Todd Lincoln was the wife of Abraham Lincoln and lived a controversial life both before and after his death. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President and led the Union during the Civil War. Kentucky was a state created soon after independence in the frontier across the Appalachians, bounded on the north by the Ohio River.