Department of English
126 E. 10th St.
Holland, MI 49423
English Department Faculty
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
Fellowship in Women's History, Massachusetts Historical Society (2005, 2000);
White House Historical Association and OAH Research Fellow (2003-04).
Contact: Lubbers Hall 301
Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life (2012)
Adams, a fiercely intelligent Boston Brahmin, married at twenty-eight
the soon-to-be-eminent American historian Henry Adams. She thrived
role as an intimate of power brokers in Gilded Age Washington, where
was admired for her wit and taste by such luminaries as Henry James,
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,
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
enduring reputation as a woman betrayed. And, most movingly, she untangles
the complex, poignant—and universal—truths of her shining
and impossible marriage.