ELIZABETH HOBBS KECKLEY (1818-1907), dressmaker to the elite of Washington D.C. on the eve of the Civil War, was, remarkably, a free black woman who'd purchased her emancipation through the fruits of her own hard work. In 1861, she became the personal designer to Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as one of the First Lady's closest confidantes.
Only a few years later, however, that relationship was in ruins, when this 1868 book created a scandal. Intended by Keckley to rehabilitate the reputation of the former First Lady-who had run up extensive debts on clothing and other luxuries while in the White House, and found herself unable to repay them after the President's assassination-the book was perceived instead as a betrayal of friendship.
Perhaps one of the first examples of celebrity gossip publishing gone awry, Behind the Scenes does, nevertheless, offer an insider perspective on the Lincoln White House that will intrigue armchair historians and fans of biography alike.