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Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Lifeby Natalie Dykstra
Synopses & Reviews
“Natalie Dykstra writes of Clover Adamss striking photographs that they ‘defeat distances between people and make time stand still. Dykstras biography achieves the same remarkable feat, bringing us close to an inspiring if ultimately tragic life, a celebrated marriage gone awry, a vanished world of privilege where the universally costly emotions of love, loss, and envy nevertheless hold sway. ‘I spare you the inside view of my heart, Clover Adams once wrote to her beloved father. Natalie Dykstra spares nothing in this eloquent and powerfully sympathetic portrait of the artist as a lady, a haunting hymn to womens ways of seeing.” — Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters
“What happened to Clover Adams broke Henry Adamss heart. And in Natalie Dykstras splendid retelling, it will break yours. This is a moving book, deeply researched, fast-paced, and profoundly engaging. It is not easy to write a book the family for so long did not want written. Dykstra has succeeded in doing so, and she has returned Clover Adams to us as a living figure.” — Robert D. Richardson, author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind, Emerson: The Mind on Fire, and William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism
“At last, Clover Adams has the biography she deserves. Long glimpsed only as the wife of a famous man or the dazzling hostess to Gilded Age luminaries, she emerges here as a complex and fascinating woman — a thinker, writer, and photographer, but also a deeply troubled soul. Natalie Dykstra follows her subject from the academic circles of mid-nineteenth-century Boston to the halls of power in Washington, D.C., giving us a broader portrait of late-nineteenth-century life. But she never loses her focus on Clover and the dark demons that haunted her throughout her life. This is a compelling read, so beautifully written and persuasively argued its hard to put down.” — Martha A. Sandweiss, author of Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line
"Clover Adams, wife of historian Henry Adams (a great-grandson and grandson of American presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, respectively), spent time with 'a wide array of writers and artists, politicians and dignitaries, doctors and academics.' She 'poured her energies and ambition into Henry's work,' collected art, read widely, and traveled often. She was not, however, without her own preoccupations and worries. In this substantial biography, Dykstra sheds light on Clover's remarkable life and her unfortunate suicide at 42, when she drank potassium cyanide, a chemical crucial to her nascent passion for photography, selected prints of which are published here. 'With her camera, she recorded her world for herself and for others to see, and in less than three years, her collection would grow to 113 photographs arranged in three red-leather albums.' By studying these images, as well as notebooks and correspondence over the years, Dykstra distills insight on her subject's beliefs and emotions. Though she sometimes relies too heavily on the letters themselves (primarily those from Clover to her father), she manages to re-create a compelling story. With empathy and compassion, she gives voice to a woman nearly written out of existence. After Clover's death, Henry 'almost never spoke of her and did not even mention her in his Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams.' With this volume, Dykstra provides Clover's life renewed significance. B&W photos. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Fascinating, insightful, and wholly engrossing, The Peabody Sisters is a landmark biography of three women who made American intellectual history.Though theirs may not be household names, Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody had an extraordinary influence on the thought of their day, the movement of intense creative ferment known as American Romanticism. Megan Marshall adeptly brings to life the sisters and the men they loved and inspired, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Mann, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In a work filled with startling revelations, Marshall presents a vivid and nuanced psychological portrait of a sisterhood rife with shifting loyalties yet founded on enduring affection.
In Henry Adams and the Making of America, Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills makes a compelling argument for a reassessment of Henry Adams as our nations greatest historian and his History as the nonfiction prose masterpiece of the nineteenth century in America.” Adams drew on his own southern fixation, his extensive foreign travel, his political service in the Lincoln administration, and much more to invent the study of history as we know it. His nine-volume chronicle of America from 1800 to 1816 established new standards for employing archival sources, firsthand reportage, eyewitness accounts, and other techniques that have become the essence of modern history.
Ambitious in scope, nuanced in detail, Henry Adams and the Making of America throws brilliant light on the historian and the making of history.
Aand#160;revelatory life of Clover Adams, casting aand#160;lens on her iconicand#160;marriage to historian Henry Adams and herand#160;fatal embrace of photographyand#160;in her last months
One of our greatest historians offers a surprising new view of the greatest historian of the nineteenth century, Henry Adams.
Wills showcases Henry Adams's little-known but seminal study of the early United States and elicits from it fresh insights on the paradoxes that roil America to this day. Adams drew on his own southern fixation, his extensive foreign travel, his political service in Lincoln's White House, and much more to invent the study of history as we know it. His nine-volume chronicle of America from 1800 to 1816 established new standards for employing archival sources, firsthand reportage, eyewitness accounts, and other techniques that have become the essence of modern history.
Adams's innovations went beyond the technical; he posited an essentially ironic view of the legacy of Jefferson and Madison. As is well known, they strove to shield the young country from "foreign entanglements," a standing army, a central bank, and a federal bureaucracy, among other hallmarks of "big government." Yet by the end of their tenures they had permanently entrenched all of these things in American society. This is the "American paradox" that defines us today: the idealized desire for isolation and political simplicity battling against the inexorable growth and intermingling of political, economic, and military forces. As Wills compellingly shows, the ironies spawned two centuries ago still inhabit our foreign policy and the widening schisms over economic and social policy.
Ambitious in scope, nuanced in detail and argument, Henry Adams and the Making of America throws brilliant light on how history is made — in both senses of the term.
The hidden story of one of the most fascinating women of the Gilded Age
Clover Adams, a fiercely intelligent Boston Brahmin, married at twenty-eight the soon-to-be-eminent American historian Henry Adams. She thrived in her role as an intimate of power brokers in Gilded Age Washington, where she was admired for her wit and taste by such luminaries as Henry James, H. H. Richardson, and General William Tecumseh Sherman. Clover so clearly possessed, as one friend wrote, and#8220;all she wanted, all this world could give.and#8221;
Yet at the center of her story is a haunting mystery. Why did Clover, having begun in the spring of 1883 to capture her world vividly through photography, end her life less than three years later by drinking a chemical developer she used in the darkroom? The key to the mystery lies, as Natalie Dykstraand#8217;s searching account makes clear, in Cloverand#8217;s photographs themselves.
The aftermath of Cloverand#8217;s death is equally compelling. Dykstra probes Cloverand#8217;s enduring reputation as a woman betrayed. And, most movingly, she untangles the complex, poignant and#8212; and universal and#8212; truths of her shining and impossible marriage.
About the Author
Natalie Dykstra has received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for her work on Clover Adams. She is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and associate professor of English at Hope College in Holland, MI.
Table of Contents
Part One: A New World
chapter 1: “She Was Home to Me” 3
chapter 2: The Hub of the Universe 16
chapter 3: Clovers War 26
chapter 4: Six Years 40
chapter 5: Henry Adams 48
chapter 6: Down the Nile 60
Part Two: “Very Much Together”
chapter 7: A Place in the World 73
chapter 8: City of Conversation 80
chapter 9: Wandering Americans 95
chapter 10: Intimates Gone 108
chapter 11: “Recesses of Her Own Heart” 117
chapter 12: The Sixth Heart 127
Part Three: Clovers Camera
chapter 13: Something New 137
chapter 14: At Sea 143
chapter 15: Esther 151
chapter 16: Iron Bars 160
chapter 17: A New Home 166
chapter 18: Portraits 171
Part Four: Mysteries of the Heart
chapter 19: Turning Away 185
chapter 20: “Lost in the Woods” 192
chapter 21: A Dark Room 199
chapter 22: “That Bright, Intrepid Spirit” 207
chapter 23: “Let Fate Have Its Way” 214
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