Link: The remarkable ongoing case of Richard Greener’s papers, salvaged from a condemned house

220px-Richard_T_Greener

Years ago, researching eccentric libraries for my novel The Remains, I stumbled across the remarkable story of Belle da Costa Greene (1879 or 1883-1950), the African-American woman “passing” as white who became the glamorous librarian to the wealthy Pierpont Morgan. I read her biography and his, and their characters became a starting point for Alice Greene and Sinclair Morgan in my novel. Part of Belle’s extraordinary life is her father, Richard Greener, first African-American graduate of Harvard. But I’ve only just come across the story of the recent discovery of his papers in an abandoned house up for demolition. It is a chapter straight out of a biographical quest, and may yet lead to further rewritings of both his life and that of Belle’s. You really have to read it to believe it, so go on – read it!

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About Nathan Hobby

At work on a biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard for a PhD at the University of Western Australia. Also a novelist and librarian. View all posts by Nathan Hobby

One response to “Link: The remarkable ongoing case of Richard Greener’s papers, salvaged from a condemned house

  • wadholloway

    I put this to one side until I had time to read the story you link to. Yes it is remarkable!. I particularly liked “Greener pillories the tendency to see white behavior as unproblematic and what deviates from those customs as a “problem”.” Now I’ll have to follow up the Martha Nussbaum essay as well.

    Like

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