Women’s History Book Club: The Personal Librarian
Calling all book lovers! Please join the National Women’s History Museum for a meeting of our Women’s History Book Club. The Women’s History Book Club is a (virtual) place to gather, discuss, and learn from and about a selected book that uplifts women’s stories and voices. As part of this intimate community, participants will take part in an interactive conversation with members of NWHM staff about our selected book.
This meeting we will discuss The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray (Berkley, June 7, 2022). This is a work of historical and literary fiction, and we will discuss what historical fiction helps do for women’s history!
From Penguin Random House:
A remarkable novel about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white in order to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times bestselling authors Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray.
In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.
But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.
The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.
Purchase your copy here!
In order to facilitate an interactive conversation, space is limited, and registrants are encouraged to submit questions ahead of time by emailing us at [email protected] using the subject line: Women’s History Book Club Question.