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Hope College
Department of English
126 E. 10th St.
Holland, MI 49423
phone: 616.395.7620
fax: 616.395.7134


English Department Faculty

Natalie Dykstra
Associate Professor

Education: B.A., Calvin College (1986); M.A., University of Wyoming (1992); Ph.D., University of Kansas (2000).

Expertise: Literary Biography, 19th-Century American Literature, Women's History, History of Photography.

Selected Works: Essays on autobiography, photography, medical history, and the American West; Clover Adams, A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life (2012).

Distinctions: NEH Long-Term Fellowship (2005-06); Schlesinger Library Grant (2005); Lilly/Crossroads Grant (2004); Ruth R. Miller Research Fellowship in Women's History, Massachusetts Historical Society (2005, 2000); White House Historical Association and OAH Research Fellow (2003-04).

Personal Website

Contact: Lubbers Hall 301


Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life (2012)
Clover Adams, a fiercely intelligent Boston Brahmin, married at twenty-eight the soon-to-be-eminent American historian Henry Adams. She thrived in her role as an intimate of power brokers in Gilded Age Washington, where she was admired for her wit and taste by such luminaries as Henry James, H. H. Richardson, and General William Tecumseh Sherman. Clover so clearly possessed, as one friend wrote, “all she wanted, all this world could give.”

Yet at the center of her story is a haunting mystery. Why did Clover, having begun in the spring of 1883 to capture her world vividly through photography, end her life less than three years later by drinking a chemical developer she used in the darkroom? The key to the mystery lies, as Natalie Dykstra’s searching account makes clear, in
Clover’s photographs themselves.

The aftermath of Clover’s death is equally compelling. Dykstra probes Clover’s enduring reputation as a woman betrayed. And, most movingly, she untangles the complex, poignant—and universal—truths of her shining and impossible marriage.