The Widow Washington: The Life of Mary Washington

Martha Saxton (Author)

Product Details

$28.00  $25.76
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
June 11, 2019
6.0 X 1.5 X 9.0 inches | 1.4 pounds
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About the Author

Martha Saxton is the author of Being Good: Women's Moral Values in Early America and biographies of Louisa May Alcott and Jayne Mansfield, among other works. She received a Ph.D. from Columbia University before joining the faculty at Amherst College, where she taught history and women's studies for twenty years.


"Brilliant and gripping . . . Drawing on local histories and archaeology as well as letters, diaries and a broad knowledge of related historiography, The Widow Washington is a clear-eyed biography of the mother of our first president and a fascinating window into the generation before the American Revolution's founding fathers and mothers. Ms. Saxton's vivid storytelling transforms the considerable genealogical work behind this history into poignant drama." --Kathleen DuVal, The Wall Street Journal

"Saxton creates a sensitive and plausible . . . picture that richly evokes Mary's interior life and the world of a slaveholding widow and planter in eighteenth-century Virginia . . . In Saxton's able hands, Mary Washington's story vividly illuminates the role white women played in the creation and transmission of wealth in early America, the frictions that patriarchal inheritance created between mothers and sons, and the tremendous price paid by the enslaved people who made much of Virginia's wealth possible." --Marjoleine Kars, The Washington Post

"Saxton offers a sensitive, sharply drawn portrait of a resourceful woman whose early losses made her anxious and fearful for life . . . A sympathetic look at George Washington's mother [and] a fresh perspective on Colonial America." --Kirkus Reviews

"An accessible and vivid exploration of the life of George Washington's mother . . . [Saxton] brings to life the social context of the time . . . [Despite] the absence of much primary source material . . . [Saxton] comes as close as anyone is likely to in accurately recounting [Mary] Washington's life. This complex, warts-and-all portrait brings a fresh angle to colonial American history." --Publishers Weekly