An Illuminated Life: Belle Da Costa Greene's Journey from Prejudice to Privilege

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 580 pages
16 Reviews

What would you give up to achieve your dream? When J. P. Morgan hired Belle da Costa Greene in 1905 to organize his rare book and manuscript collection, she had only her personality and a few years of experience to recommend her. Ten years later, she had shaped the famous Pierpont Morgan Library collection and was a proto-celebrity in New York and the art world, renowned for her self-made expertise, her acerbic wit, and her flirtatious relationships. Born to a family of free people of color, Greene changed her name and invented a Portuguese grandmother to enter white society. In her new world, she dined both at the tables of the highest society and with bohemian artists and activists. She also engaged in a decades-long affair with art critic Bernard Berenson. Greene is pure fascination -- the buyer of illuminated manuscripts who attracted others to her like moths to a flame.

 

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
5
4 stars
4
3 stars
5
2 stars
2
1 star
0

Review: An Illuminated Life: Bella da Costa Greene's Journey from Prejudice to Privilege

User Review  - Atlas Brown - Goodreads

Very interesting read. Still thinking about the librarian's life and her reasoning for not acknowledging her ethnicity. Read full review

Review: An Illuminated Life: Bella da Costa Greene's Journey from Prejudice to Privilege

User Review  - Atlas Brown - Goodreads

Very interesting read. Still thinking about the librarian's life and her reasoning for not acknowledging her ethnicity. Read full review

Contents

Presenting Belle da Costa Greene
1
Raised Expectations
13
Gilded Dreams in New York
40
Princeton Early Influences
61
Belle Green Girl Librarian
78
A Turn in the Road
105
The Whirl in Which I Live
131
Bella Italia
174
Battlefields
326
Lady Directress
366
A Woman of a Certain Age
421
Shining through the Darkness
448
The Passing of Belle Greene
471
Acknowledgments
481
Notes
485
Select Bibliography
543

Hiding in the Light
206
A Modern Woman
251
Crossroads
284
Photograph Credits
549
Index
551
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Heidi Ardizzone is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame.

Bibliographic information