Given unmatched power in New York society as J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle daCosta Greene’s carefree and privileged lifestyle belies the carefully hidden secret that she is passing as a white woman.
THE PERSONAL LIBRARIAN
by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray
Berkley/PRH, Summer 2021
The Personal Librarian is the stunning story of Belle da Costa Greene, a young woman who is hired by J. Pierpont Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly-built Morgan Library. In this position, Belle becomes a fixture in New York society and the most influential woman in the art and book world. But Belle has a secret. She was not born Belle da Costa Greene, but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first black graduate of Harvard. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage, but because she is African-American.
This riveting novel shares the life of a woman, famous for her bohemian lifestyle and for bold statements like “just because I’m a librarian doesn’t mean I have to dress like one”—and how far she will go to protect her carefully crafted white identity from a racist world. It also explores the irony that the world-famous Morgan Library was due to the expertise and prowess of a woman of color.
Marie Benedict is the author of the USA Today bestselling The Other Einstein, Carnegie’s Maid, and of The Only Woman in the Room which spent 4 weeks on the New York Times list earlier this year. With over one million books in print, Marie’s co-author, Victoria Christopher Murray is one of the country’s top African American contemporary authors. She has written more than twenty novels and is also a four-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Fiction, winning in 2016 for Stand Your Ground.