Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Personal Librarian of J. P. Morgan

I've been reading "The personal librarian" the story of J.P. Morgan's curator of his rare books and manuscript collection, Belle da Costa Greene. I'm not impressed with the novel. I just came across the bio of her father, the first black graduate of Harvard, Richard Theodore Greener. If the fictionalized account of Belle's life is to be believed, then her father abandoned his family to suit his own ambitions and had a Japanese concubine and two children when he was the first black diplomat to Russia in the early 20th century. That said, she's not to blame for her father's abandonment of her mother and large family. However, the writing is clunky and awkward, and it's a very preachy book about the struggles of a light skinned woman passing as a white in order to have a good life using her remarkable talent and intelligence. But she also had an affair with a married man (who had other lovers) and an abortion when her Jewish lover chose his wife and station over her (she wanted her child). Maybe I'm just tired of reading about amazingly successful people who are seen as victims. Porch reading. I've talked to others who have read it, and many LOVE this book, so don't be afraid to pick it up.

Belle da Costa Greene (1883-1950) • (

Belle da Costa Greene, the Morgan’s First Librarian and Director | History of the Morgan | The Morgan Library & Museum

A Look at Belle da Costa Greene | Rare Book Collections @ Princeton

The Women Who Made the Morgan: Belle da Costa Greene, Felice Stampfle, and Edith Porada - YouTube Lecture, March 3, 2021 Her letters to Bernard Berenson (1865–1959), lecture, June 19, 2021 Unmasking a forgery. The Spanish Forger.

Summary and Review: The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Murray - The Bibliofile (

The Personal Librarian Summary & Study Guide (

a book review by Judith Reveal: The Personal Librarian (

Belle da Costa Greene - Wikipedia

Bernard Berenson - Wikipedia

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