The madness of Mary Lincoln

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Southern Illinois University Press,
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In 2005, historian Jason Emerson discovered a steamer trunk formerly owned by Robert Todd Lincoln's lawyer and stowed in an attic for forty years. The trunk contained a rare find: twenty-five letters pertaining to Mary Todd Lincoln's life and insanity case, letters assumed long destroyed by the Lincoln family. Mary wrote twenty of the letters herself, more than half from the insane asylum to which her son Robert had her committed, and many in the months and years after.

            The Madness of Mary Lincoln is the first examination of Mary Lincoln’s mental illness based on the lost letters, and the first new interpretation of the insanity case in twenty years. This compelling story of the purported insanity of one of America’s most tragic first ladies provides new and previously unpublished materials, including the psychiatric diagnosis of Mary’s mental illness and her lost will.

Emerson charts Mary Lincoln’s mental illness throughout her life and describes how a predisposition to psychiatric illness and a life of mental and emotional trauma led to her commitment to the asylum. The first to state unequivocally that Mary Lincoln suffered from bipolar disorder, Emerson offers a psychiatric perspective on the insanity case based on consultations with psychiatrist experts.

            This book reveals Abraham Lincoln’s understanding of his wife’s mental illness and the degree to which he helped keep her stable. It also traces Mary’s life after her husband’s assassination, including her severe depression and physical ailments, the harsh public criticism she endured, the Old Clothes Scandal, and the death of her son Tad.

          The Madness of Mary Lincoln is the story not only of Mary, but also of Robert. It details how he dealt with his mother’s increasing irrationality and why it embarrassed his Victorian sensibilities; it explains the reasons he had his mother committed, his response to her suicide attempt, and her plot to murder him. It also shows why and how he ultimately agreed to her release from the asylum eight months early, and what their relationship was like until Mary’s death.

This historical page-turner provides readers for the first time with the lost letters that historians had been in search of for eighty years.

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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID f674461a-383e-8ef7-459e-9f55caab4692
full_title madness of mary lincoln
author emerson jason
grouping_category book
lastUpdate 2017-08-14 05:04:21AM

Solr Details

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author Emerson, Jason, 1975-
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availability_toggle_arlington Available Now, Entire Collection
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oclc (OCoLC)81252678
owning_library_arlington Arlington Public Library, Aurora Hills, Central, Cherrydale, Columbia Pike, Connection Crystal City, Detention Center, Glencarlyn, Local History, Plaza, Shirlington, Westover
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physical xiii, 255 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
popularity 3
primary_isbn 9780809327713
publishDate 2007
publishDateSort 2007
publisher Southern Illinois University Press,
rating 2.5
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record_details ils:.b1297979x|Book|Books||English|Southern Illinois University Press,|c2007.|xiii, 255 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
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subject_facet Mental illness -- United States -- Case studies, Presidents' spouses -- United States -- Biography
table_of_contents Much like an April day -- A most painful time of anxiety -- No right to remain upon earth -- Of unsound mind -- Mrs. Lincoln admitted today -- It does not appear that God is good -- No more insane than I am -- A deeply wronged woman -- Resignation will never come -- To be destroyed immediately -- Epilogue -- Appendix 1 : unpublished Mary Todd Lincoln letters -- Appendix 2 : legal documents pertaining to the sale and destruction of the Mary Lincoln insanity letters -- Appendix 3 : the psychiatric illness of Mary Lincoln / James S. Brust, M.D.
target_audience Adult
target_audience_full Adult
title The madness of Mary Lincoln
title_display The madness of Mary Lincoln
title_full The madness of Mary Lincoln / Jason Emerson
title_short The madness of Mary Lincoln
title_sort madness of mary lincoln