The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

January 5, 2012

January 5

By most accounts George Washington and the woman he married (on January 5, 1759, though some sources say January 6) Martha Dandridge Custis had a happy union. That does not mean there were not historians who painted critical pictures of the marraige. We have the details below from an article, "The Loves of the Presidents," written by Frank. G. Carpenter and published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, and reprinted in the October 1885 issue of Parry's Literary Journal.

. By the death of her first husband [Martha Custis] was left wealthy, and she brought to her new husband about one hundred thousand dollars in money and a large amount of real estate.
...She was under middle size, and had dark brown eyes and hair. Washington is said to have been a homely young man and a very good-looking old one. Martha Washington was a very pretty girl, but not a very good-looking old woman. As she matured she grew stout; and, though her pictures represent her as a beauty, the current history of the times says she was a plainly-dressed, robust old woman who looked older than her husband. She was not noted for her social nor her intellectual qualities. She could not spell, and probably did not read a book from one end of the year to the other. She was a sort of goodygoody woman, who almost always had knitting-needles in her hands, and who thought she did a great thing when she saved the ravellings of a lot of old black silk stockings and wornout chair-covers and wove them into a dress for herself. She was very proud of her husband; and... she secluded herself after his death, seeing no one for months, and allowing only a cat to enter the room through a hole which was cut under the door.

Lytton Strachey published Eminent Victorians in 1918, a book which is said to have started the trend of irreverent biography. I think Mr. Carpenter got a head start on him. 

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