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Lucy Audubon

A Biography

Southern Biography

272 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

American History

  Paperback / 9780807133811 / September 2008

"Lucy was, in DeLatte's words, 'extraordinarily independent'. She was no feminist. . . . Yet Lucy Bakewell Audubon had one advantage over many other women of her time: she knew precisely what she wanted. As often happens to good biographers, DeLatte herself seems to take on some of her subject's characteristics as her biography progresses. Modestly but firmly, she turns her book into a plea for Lucy Audubon, an entirely unapologetic one, though."--Christopher Irmscher, from his Foreword

Wife of the great naturalist John James Audubon, Lucy Bakewell Audubon (1788–1874) was a powerful and extraordinary woman who coped resourcefully with the demands of a difficult situation and worked tirelessly to aid her husband in his landmark work. In Lucy Audubon: A Biography, Carolyn E. DeLatte focuses on the early life of Lucy Audubon: her birth in England and youth in eastern Pennsylvania, her courtship and marriage to the eccentric young Audubon, their wanderings along the western fringe of the country, the birth of their children, and the preparation and publication of The Birds of America. Throughout, DeLatte emphasizes Lucy Audubon’s own experiences, concerns, and point of view. She tells of Lucy’s often stormy relationship with her brilliant but unreliable husband, her place at the head of their small family, and her crucial role in the creation and publication of her husband’s magnum opus. Intelligent, adaptable, and strong-willed, Lucy was, DeLatte shows, the partner Audubon needed for his life and for his work. As noted Audubon expert Christoph Irmscher says in his foreword, “When [DeLatte] slips into her character’s skin, she does so unobtrusively and to great effect—thus, we are right there with Lucy.”

Carolyn E. DeLatte was a professor of history at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Praise for Lucy Audubon

"A compelling account of the woman who stood by John James Audubon, through failure and success . . . and who may be said to have been almost as responsible for The Birds of America as the artist himself."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Much has been written about John James Audubon but DeLatte has given us a first major look at the unique and talented woman who stood strongly both behind him and by his side." —Christian Science Monitor

“In this well-documented and highly readable biography Lucy emerges from the shadow of her famous husband, John James Audubon . . . and appears as a woman of intelligence, character, and strength.”—Library Journal

Lucy Audubon is a book to delight devotees of the ‘art of biography.’ Carolyn E. Delatte has produced a fascinating, lucidly written tale of the wife of the naturalist John James Audubon. Although one might initially question the need for a biography of a woman whose only distinction is that she happened to meet and marry Audubon, one becomes very quickly enmeshed in the struggles of this strong-willed, if sometimes petulant, woman.”—Journal of American History

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