FIRST OF HEARTS:
Selected Letters of Mrs. Henry Adams
Edited by Ward Thoron
With a New Introduction by Cokie Roberts
A woman of not so very long ago speaks to us today, with a new introduction by a leading woman of our day.
Marian Hooperknown from childhood as "Clover"was one of the most remarkable American women of the nineteenth century. She and her husband, the celebrated historian Henry Adams, grandson of John Quincy Adams, resided for the last part of her life in a magnificent Washington house next door to President McKinley's Secretary of State, John Hay (the two structures later became the Hays-Adams Hotel). Here Clover practiced her art of photographyone of the first American women to enter that fieldand held a salon for politicians and writers of every stripe: Henry James came to visit often, as did General Sherman, McKinley, Clarence King, Oscar Wilde, and dozens of others. And for a period of seven years Clover wrote to her father in Boston a series of warm, chatty, hilariously perceptive letters about those salons and about Washington life and politics in the Gilded Agean age that resembles, in many disturbing ways, our own time.
These letters, first selected and published by Ward Thoron in 1937, constitute one of the forgotten gems of American history. The distinguished Emmy-award winning journalist and historian Cokie Roberts has written a brilliant new introduction to this fascinating and delightful collection. Herself a member of a great American political family, Roberts has long lived and worked in Washington. She is the most insightful and eloquent commentator on Washington life and politics since . . . Clover Adams.
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VideoMax in conversation with Cokie Roberts at the National Archives about the book First of Hearts (Willowbank Books):
"Prominent socialite and photographer Clover Adams charms us with her intelligence, wit, and political acuity, whether she is witnessing the Grand Review of the Union army, discouraging Henry James from bringing Oscar Wilde to dinner, following the trial of President Garfield's assassin, or preparing wild turkey with truffle sauce for her many guests. The correspondence with her father (1880-83) offers a rich, gossipy social history that documents the "Golden Age of Lafayette Square" in Washington. 'Live up to one's fingers' ends,' she enjoins her reader—with no hint of the suicide that would abruptly end her own life."
—Felicity Nussbaum, Distinguished Professor of English and Women's Studies, UCLA
The Wall Street Journal ran an extremely favorable review of First of Hearts by the renowned Adams scholar Patricia O'Toole (Feb. 18, 2012). It praises the extraordinary wit and liveliness of the letters and welcomes them back into print after so many years.
—The Wall Street Journal (read the full review)