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First Lady as Campaigner
New this month is our annotated edition of Mary Cutts's memoir of her famous aunt, Dolley Madison. The Queen of America presents both drafts of Cutts's manuscript with an introductory essay and notes by Dolley biographer and Parlor Politics author Catherine Allgor. A reliable guide is especially necessary in this case because it turns out Cutts may have had a few things to hide—or at least conveniently ignore—in her life of the First Lady. Allgor spoke with us about the fine line Cutts walked in her famous memoir.
Q: Your book includes draft versions of the memoir Dolley Madison’s niece, Mary Cutts, wrote about her aunt. The drafts show that Cutts, and her family, changed things in her account. What were they trying to hide?
Allgor: First, Mary lies about Dolley's birthplace as part of a general cover-up about Dolley's father, a difficult man who may have been a bit shady in his dealings. Mary stresses Dolley's charm, but omits that it never got her anywhere with her marital family, the Madisons, who had a low opinion of "Dolly" and would have sued her at a moment's notice.
Virginia Honored by ADE
At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Association for Documentary Editing (ADE), the University of Virginia Press was honored with a special Resolution of Appreciation for its "leadership, vision, and vital support in the field of documentary editing."
The Lost Colony
For over 400 years a simple patch hid a very important detail on John White's "Virginae Pars" map, and some historians are now hopeful that it could provide valuable clues to the whereabouts of the "Lost Colony," a 16th-century settlement that disappeared without a trace. The story of the map's hidden fort quickly spread past the scholarly arena and was picked up by the mainstream news. We asked William C. Wooldridge, author of our forthcoming Mapping Virginia: From the Age of Exploration to the Civil War, to share his thoughts on this discovery and what it might mean.
We were saddened this week, as was everyone in publishing, to hear that Maurice Sendak—the author of countless delightfully macabre, unforgettable books—had passed away at the age of 83. The University of Virginia Press is proud to have published two of Sendak's books, both out of print now and prized by collectors—Ten Little Rabbits (1970) and Fantasy Sketches (1981).
A Great Lost Civil War Story
In the summer of 2004, a collector in Roanoke, Virginia, purchased a box stuffed full of an odd collection of documents. The container held ticket stubs, a college transcript, hand-drawn maps, newspaper clippings, and both typewritten and handwritten letters and stories. Examined closely, the materials revealed themselves to be the papers of George S. Bernard, Petersburg lawyer and member of the 12th Virginia infantry regiment during the Civil War.
Steinbeck, War Reporter
Beginning in late 1966, John Steinbeck, roughly the age of the century, spent several months in Southeast Asia, covering the war in Vietnam for Newsday. His reports back home, published now in Steinbeck in Vietnam: Dispatches from the War, constitute the Nobel laureate's final published work. Steinbeck's reports took the form of letters to Alicia—a tribute to Alicia Guggenheim, the late publisher and editor of Newsday. In them, he applied his naturally superb eye to a scene that eluded comprehension, "a war not like any we have been involved in." The Huffington Post has posted a typically eloquent, searching letter here. Positive reviews are in from Shelf Awareness, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus. Steinbeck is most associated with Depression-era works such as The Grapes of Wrath. But, says Steinbeck in Vietnam editor Thomas Barden, "Steinbeck always wanted to be where the action was." His reports were complicated by the fact that, despite his rather left-leaning past, Steinbeck was no dove. While not as important as Steinbeck's novels, Barden feels these dispatches "have the spell-casting power of Steinbeck’s great works of fiction. They have his trademark immediacy and passion."
Best New Poets
Congratulations are in order for several contributors to our Best New Poets series. Scott Abels' first full-length collection of poems, Rambo Goes to Idaho, was recently published by BlazeVOX. Scott's poem "As Rambo Lay Dying" was published in Best New Poets 2011.
Behind the Bench
The Supreme Court's hearing on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law has attracted a nearly unprecedented amount of interest, not only from individuals demonstrating on the court's steps—or waiting in line literally for days for a seat inside—but from organizations either supporting or opposing the law. Apparently a record number of briefs have been filed—so-called amicus curiae, in which organizations provide historical and legal data to influence the process. As these briefs are processed by the court's law clerks, we thought we would go to Todd C. Peppers and Artemus Ward, editors of In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices, with some of our questions about the preparation for this historic ruling.
Been Here Before
As the EU approves a second bailout for the failing Greek economy, we thought it would be a good time to hear from historians John P. Kaminski and Richard Leffler. Their most recent project, an English-language edition of Jürgen Heideking's The Constitution before the Judgment Seat, reveals many compelling parallels between Europe's current fiscal challenges and those faced by the founders in the days of the early republic.