CHESTERTOWN, MD—A formal first meeting, a short courtship followed by a long marriage, a family to raise, a household and farm to manage, a successful career in the military; these might characterize the trajectory of many 18th-century American couples’ lives. But add “leading a revolutionary army” and “founding a new nation,” and George and Martha Washington’s partnership takes on an extraordinary distinction. While many have chronicled the first president’s life and public service, no other writer has so thoroughly examined the marriage bonds between him and his wife as Flora Fraser does in The Washingtons: George and Martha, “Join’d by Friendship, Crown’d by Love.”
Fraser, who lives in London, will speak about her award-winning book at Washington College on Thursday, September 15 at 5:00 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. A book signing will begin at 4:15 p.m. in Underwood Lobby, and the Dover English Country Dancers will lead a lively series of reels and jigs. A reception will be held after the talk. Hosted by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, all events are free and open to the public.
In awarding the prize to Fraser, the George Washington Prize jury enthusiastically praised The Washingtons: “This is a splendidly-researched, vividly written reconstruction of the public and private lives of Martha and George, and the connections to the Revolutionary era.”
A distinguished biographer, Fraser is also the author of Beloved Emma: The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton; The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline; Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III; and Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire. She chairs the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, which she established in 2003 in memory of her grandmother, a historian and author of many noted British biographies; her mother is the noted writer Lady Antonia Fraser.
The full schedule for the Washington Prize celebration follows:
- 4:15 – 4:45 p.m. Book signing with Flora Fraser, Underwood Lobby, Gibson Center for the Arts;
- 4:15 – 5:00 p.m. Colonial dancing with the Dover English Country Dancers, Martha Washington Square, in front of Gibson Center for the Arts;
- 5:00 p.m. “Making History: A Conversation with Flora Fraser and Adam Goodheart,” Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts;
- 6:00 p.m. Public reception, Underwood Lobby.
The George Washington Prize campus celebration is co-sponsored by Washington College Department of History, American Studies Program, History Society, and Phi Alpha Theta.
The $50,000 Washington Prize was awarded to Fraser at a black-tie dinner at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in May. Sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Mount Vernon, the Washington Prize is one of the largest literary prizes in the nation. Awarded annually for the year’s best written work about America’s founding era, it particularly recognizes works that contribute to a broad public understanding of the American past.
Established in 2005, the George Washington Prize has honored a dozen leading writers on the Revolutionary era including, last year, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit musical Hamilton. Publishers in the United States and the United Kingdom submitted more than 60 books for the 2016 award.
Learn more about the George Washington Prize at washcoll.edu/gwbookprize.
About Washington College
Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and 40 nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.