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Embers of Childhood: Growing Up a Whitney

Embers of Childhood: Growing Up a Whitney

by Flora Miller Biddle


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A Look into the Privileged World of the American Aristocracy of the Early Twentieth Century

Flora Miller Biddle was born a blue-blood. The granddaughter of the Whitney museum founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, her childhood played out in a sort of Wharton landscape as she was shielded from the woes of the world.
But money itself is not the source of happiness. Glimpses into the elegance of a Vanderbilt ball thrown by her great-grandparents and the yearly production of traveling from her childhood home on Long Island to their summer home in Aiken, South Carolina, are measured against memoires of strict governesses with stricter rules in a childhood separate from her parents, despite being in the same house, and the ever-present pressure to measure up in her studies and lessons. As Flora steps back in time to trace the origins of her family’s fortune and where it stands today, she takes a discerning look at how wealth and excess shaped her life, for better and for worse.

In this wonderfully evocative memoir, Flora Miller Biddle examines, critiques, and pays homage to the people and places of her childhood that shaped her life.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781948924009
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Flora Miller Biddle was president of the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1977 to 1995. She has four children. Her daughter, Fiona, following her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, has been elected to serve on the Whitney board of trustees.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 9

Prologue 11

Part I History

1 Ancestors 17

2 Aiken 33

3 Flora & Cully 39

Part II Childhood

4 At Joye Cottage 69

5 Aiken Day School 91

6 The Household 107

7 Le Petit Boulay · Christmas 117

8 Flin Flon · Old Westbury 133

9 The Adirondacks & Louis Duane 143

10 Newport 167

11 Sis 173

12 Trout Fishing 179

13 Gaylard · Duck Soup 195

Part III Teen Years

14 Beaux 209

15 Bill Tuey 225

16 Last Drag 233

17 A Wedding 245

18 Clare Chanler 255

Part IV Growing Up

19 Coming Out 277

20 Summer Love 281

21 Loss 299

22 Aiken Revisited 305

Appendix 1 The Whitneys 315

Appendix 2 The Millers 317

Bibliography 319

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