Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2007 Issue

Americana and the West from Clark Rare Books

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Item 58 is the memoirs of, perhaps, the first female American president. No, My Memoirs wasn't written by Hillary Clinton. It is the work of Edith Bolling Wilson, second wife of President Woodrow Wilson. The widow Edith Bolling Galt married widower Wilson in 1915, three years after his first election to the nation's highest office. Hers was a typical first lady's role until Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919. The exact role she played for her incapacitated husband remains unclear. Some say she just routed issues to various departments and selected which were important enough to bring to her husband's attention. Others say she made important decisions, effectively performing the role of president during his illness. Mrs. Wilson referred to her role as stewardship for her husband as opposed to what we would now call the "decider." Whatever her role, she was likely the most powerful first spouse ever, at least or until...Bill Clinton. Mrs. Wilson's book was published in 1939. $62.50.

Now here is perhaps the second most influential first lady -- Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt's wife was one of the nation's greatest humanitarians, using her position as first lady to advance all types of social causes. Her dedication to her ideals did not end with the death of her husband. For the remainder of her life, she promoted the interests of the weakest and poorest among us, though a lady of substantial means herself. Item 26 is a biography of those post-presidential years, Eleanor: The Years Alone, by Joseph P. Lash. All told, those years were seventeen. This book includes a forward by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. $20.

Fame is fleeting. Francis Wilson was a multitalented actor, writer, comedian and all things theatrical. Born in 1854, he was performing before he was ten. He would go on to have a very successful career acting and making people laugh, along with writing plays and biographies of other actors. In 1913, he was chosen to be the first president of the Actors' Equity Association, the union for performers. One of the major reasons was his great popularity made Wilson sufficiently wealthy he could not be intimidated by denying him future acting roles. Unfortunately, Wilson was not a star of the screen, so there was little for future generations to remember him by. That's why you probably never heard of him. Still, he was a major celebrity in his time. In 1924, he published his biography, Francis Wilson's Life of Himself . Item 95. $30.

You may reach Clark Rare Books at 405-307-0088 or info@clarkrarebooks.com.

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