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Mary Chesnut

(1823—1886)


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(1823–86),

daughter of a U.S. senator from South Carolina and married to the scion of a great plantation owner of the state, also a senator, was a passionate believer in states' rights. During the Civil War she kept a lively, sharp-eyed diary of life in the Confederacy, also expressive of sympathy for black people. A Diary from Dixie (1905) was reissued in an enlarged, revised text by Ben Ames Williams. The complete text of some 400,000 words was edited by C. Vann Woodward as Mary Chesnut's Civil War (1981) and awarded a Pulitzer Prize, although some historians questioned its authenticity since Mrs. Chesnut rewrote the work substantially during Reconstruction. The Private Mary Chesnut (1984) edited by Woodward and Elisabeth Muhlenfeld draws on more personal journals.

Subjects: Literature.


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