Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

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Overview

Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley

Originally published in 1868—when it was attacked as an “indecent book” authored by a “traitorous eavesdropper”—Behind the Scenes is the story of Elizabeth Keckley, who began her life as a slave and became a privileged witness to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Keckley bought her freedom at the age of thirty-seven and set up a successful dressmaking business in Washington, D.C. She became modiste to Mary Todd Lincoln and in time her friend and confidante, a relationship that continued after Lincoln’s assassination. In documenting that friendship—often using the First Lady’s own letters—Behind the Scenes fuses the slave narrative with the political memoir. It remains extraordinary for its poignancy, candor, and historical perspective.

  • First time in Penguin Classics

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143039242
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/26/2005
Series: Penguin Classics Series
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 166,903
Product dimensions: 5.06(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.53(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818–1907) was born a slave near Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia, and, after purchasing her freedom, became head of the Domestic Science Department at Wilberforce University in Ohio.
William L. Andrews is E. Maynard Adams Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of To Tell a Free Story and editor or coeditor of more than thirty books on African American literature.

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Behind the scenes, or, Thirty years a slave and four years in the White House 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Elizabeth Marin More than 1 year ago
I have to disagree with the previous commentor in regards to this book being ego driven. There is hardly anything glamorous about being a former slave who had to work her way out of poverty. Her story is inspiring. In regards to her relationship with the Lincolns, we have to remember that this is Ms. Keckley's point of view in how she interpreted the situations that occurred during that time. In my opinion, this book is an interesting read from start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone interested in the issues of slavery or the Lincoln Presidency this is a fascinating look at the life of Elizabeth Keckley who must have been a brave and competent woman of her day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a really good book and i would recommend it to people. The story is about Elizabeth Keckley's life as a slave, a seamstress, and a friend of Mrs. Lincoln.
Gretchen1 More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be extremely compelling and well-written. When you think that the author was a former slave who rose up from a horrific childhood to becoming a successful businesswoman, it's great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating reading about the Lincolns from this very interesting woman. I am so glad I picked out this book as my only souvenir from the Lincoln library in Springfield. Now I have the Nook edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gave the reader and inside look at Mrs Lincoln and things that went on in her everyday life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read, I love history and this is a first count hand given by a person that was there. Granted this is from her point of view, but still just incredible insight to a period of history that is long gone. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is the ending just drops off. Otherwise like I said a wonderful insightful book. It cost her, Mrs. Keckley her friendship with Mrs. Lincoln....But wonderful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
juliettehendrikx More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most remarkable memoirs I have read. Keckley speaks frankly about having been beaten as a slave, being forced to take a white slave owner as a lover, baring his child, and then traveling to Washington to set up a dress shop. It was there she met the Lincolns. Her time spent with them was the most interesting part of this tale so I wont spoiler the eye openers. The memoir was completely engrossing. A remarkable book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wow!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book talked about Mrs. Lincoln and not much about the history of the writer. The letters contained in the book got boring and repeated themselves.
EmilyCharlotte More than 1 year ago
All she wrote about were her excellent moral choices, how she loved Lincoln, and very disparaging remarks about the first lady.