"The beauty of this series of letters is that both the selection and the wonderful annotation provides the reader with a fascinating portrait. King's letters allow us a window onto her sea-island plantation world: illnesses, emotions, habits, practices, the gossip and grind of everyday life. Pavich-Lindsay has taken a very ordinary woman's letters and put them into an extraordinarily rich context which illuminates an entire era and region."
—Catherine Clinton, author of Fanny Kemble's Civil Wars
Anna Matilda Page was reared with the expectation that she would marry a planter, have children, and tend to her family's domestic affairs. Untypically, she was also schooled by her father in all aspects of plantation management, from seed cultivation to building construction. That grounding would serve her well. By 1842 her husband's properties were seized, owing to debts amassed from crop failures, economic downturns, and extensive investments in land, enslaved workers, and the development of the nearby port town of Brunswick. Anna and her family were sustained, however, by Retreat, the St. Simons Island property left to her in trust by her father. With the labor of fifty bondpeople and "their increase" she was to strive, with little aid from her husband, to keep the plantation solvent.
A valuable record of King's many roles, from accountant to mother, from doctor to horticulturist, the letters also reveal much about her relationship with, and attitudes toward, her enslaved workers. Historians have yet to fully understand the lives of plantation mistresses left on their own by husbands pursuing political and other professional careers. Anna Matilda Page King's letters give us insight into one such woman who reluctantly entered, but nonetheless excelled in, the male domains of business and agriculture.
Read more about St. Simons Island at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
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List price: $49.95
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