The Personal Librarian (Random House Large Print)

The Personal Librarian (Random House Large Print)

by Marie Benedict (Author)

The remarkable story of J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict, and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.

The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.

In the captivating pages of "The Personal Librarian," Marie Benedict weaves a rich historical narrative centered around Belle da Costa Greene, a remarkable woman who defied societal norms and made an indelible mark on the world of books and libraries.

Belle's journey begins in the early 1900s, as she navigates the complexities of being an African American woman in a predominantly white world. Despite facing discrimination and prejudice, she possesses an unyielding passion for literature and a keen eye for rare and valuable books.

Her talent and dedication eventually lead her to become the personal librarian of J.P. Morgan, one of the wealthiest and most influential men of his time. As she meticulously curates his extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts, Belle finds herself in a world of privilege and power.

While Belle thrives in her role as a librarian, she also faces personal struggles and societal pressures. She grapples with the weight of her family's expectations, the constraints imposed by her race and gender, and the complex dynamics of her relationship with Morgan.

"The Personal Librarian" is a compelling exploration of the power of books to shape lives and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Through Belle's captivating story, Benedict sheds light on the hidden contributions of women and minorities in shaping the world of literature and libraries.

As readers delve into the pages of this captivating novel, they are transported to a bygone era, where the grandeur of Gilded Age New York City provides a backdrop to Belle's extraordinary life. Benedict's vivid storytelling and meticulous research bring to life the struggles, triumphs, and complexities of this remarkable woman.

"The Personal Librarian" serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring power of books and the transformative role they can play in shaping our lives. It is a celebration of the unsung heroes who dedicate their lives to preserving and sharing the written word, and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.


496 pages