A Gilded and Heartbreaking LifeBook - 2012
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, “all she wanted, all this world could give.”
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 Dykstra’s searching account makes clear, in Clover’s photographs themselves.
The aftermath of Clover’s death is equally compelling. Dykstra probes Clover’s enduring reputation as a woman betrayed. And, most movingly, she untangles the complex, poignant — and universal — truths of her shining and impossible marriage.
Baker & Taylor
A portrait of the wife of historian Henry Adams evaluates her seemingly thriving existence in Gilded Age Washington, investigating her whirlwind obsession with photography and her mysterious suicide.
Clover Adams and her husband, American historian and novelist Henry Adams (grandson and great-grandson of American presidents) were active members of Washington, D.C.'s high society in the late 19th century. In 1883, Clover began the hobby of photography; three years later, she committed suicide by drinking darkroom chemicals. Dykstra (English, Hope College) examines her photographs and letters for clues as to why she killed herself. The book includes one section of b&w historical photos of various family members, and one section of photos taken by Clover Adams. Annotation Â©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Clover, an inquisitive, loving, fiercely intelligent Boston Brahmin, married at 28 the older and soon-to-be-eminent historian Henry Adams. She thrived in her role as an intimate to political insiders in Gilded Age Washington, where she was valued for herwit and taste by such artistic luminaries as Henry James and H. H. Richardson. Clover so clearly possessed, as one friend wrote, "all she wanted, all this world could give." And yet there is a mystery: why did Clover, having embarked on an exhilarating self-taught course of photography in the spring of 1883, end her life less than three years later by drinking from a vial of a chemical she used in developing her own photographs? The answer is revealed through Natalie Dykstra's original discoveries regarding the thirteen-year Adams marriage. Dykstra illuminates Clover's enduring stature as a woman betrayed as she untangles the complex truth of her shining and impossible marriage.--From publisher description.
A revelatory portrait of the wife of historian Henry Adams evaluates her seemingly thriving existence in Gilded Age Washington at the sides of such luminaries as Henry James and H. H. Richardson, investigating her whirlwind obsession with photography and her mysterious suicide. 40,000 first printing.