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Authors: Jean Stein


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An American Biography












About the Author

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45



Biographical Notes


Picture Credits

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Version 1.0

Epub ISBN 9781407053295

Published by Pimlico 2006

6  8  10  9  7  5

Copyright ©Jean Stein and George Plimpton 1982

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

First published in Great Britain in 1982 by Jonathan Cape

First Pimlico edition 1992

Pimlico Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA

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Random House UK Limited Reg. No. 954009

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 9781845950637

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Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Bookmarque, Croydon, CRO 4TD

At the back of the book, among the Addenda,
are a Sedgwick family tree, an afterword,
acknowledgments, and biographical notes.





Jean Stein has worked as an editor for a number of magazines, including the
Paris Review, Grand Street
She is the co-author, with George Plimpton, of
American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy.

George Plimpton was an author, an actor and a literary patron. In 1953 he co-founded the
Paris Review
and his books include
Out of My League, Paper Lion, Mad Ducks and Bears, One More July, Shadow Box, The Man in the Flying Lawn Chair, Truman Capote
The Bogey Man.
He died in September 2003.


 Have you ever seen the old graveyard up there in Stockbridge? In one corner is the family’s burial place; it’s called the Sedgwick Pie. The Pie is rather handsome. In the center Judge Theodore Sedgwick, the first of die Stockbridge Sedgwicks and a great-great-great-grandfather of Edie’s and of mine, is buried under his tombstone, a high rising obelisk, and his wife Pamela is beside him. They are like the king and queen on a chessboard, and all around them like a pie are more modest stones, put in layers, back and round in a circle. The descendants of Judge Sedgwick, from generation unto generation, are all buried with their heads facing out and their feet pointing in toward their ancestor. The legend is that on Judgment Day when they arise and face the Judge, they wI’ll have to see no one but Sedgwicks.

Judge Sedgwick moved to Stockbridge right after the Revolution. I’m afraid he is going to smite me down if I go on talking this way, but he certainly did ingratiate himself with the movers and shakers of his day. He was a political ally of Alexander Hamilton and George Washington, and he became Speaker of the House of Representatives. He wasn’t a signer of the Declaration of Independence but he was in with all those people. There’s a picture in the old Sedgwick house of Martha Washington’s first reception and Judge Sedgwick and Pamela are in this picture. Poor woman, halfway through her life she went mad.

As a child I heard that her condition was due to having been left alone in Stockbridge through many winters while the Judge was politicking in New York and Philadelphia and Washington. Pamela Sedgwick may have been one of the first American wives to be the martyr of her husband’s political ambitions. The epitaph on her grave is sad testimony:


Anybody who is a descendant of the Judge may be buried in the Pie. But at the Judge’s feet lies a woman named Elizabeth Freeman, known to the family as Mumbet. She is supposed to have been the first freed slave in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The story goes that she happened to hear the Declaration of Independence read aloud at a town meeting. I recall reports that Mumbet’s owner treated her cruelly, that he beat her up with a warming pan, that sort of thing. She ran away and sought out Judge Sedgwick and said, “Sir, I heard that we are all born equal and every one of us has the right to be free” and Judge Sedgwick was so impressed that he argued for her freedom. Mumbet stayed with him in gratitude for the rest of her life. An odd detail is that close by Mumbet’s grave another grave is marked with the bronze figure of a dog that lies beneath it. I never learned precisely who owned that dog or whether the Judge had not also set it free.

Lying next to Mumbet is Judge Sedgwick’s daughter, Catharine. She was a spinster and a novelist in the early 1800s and the author of A
New England Tale
which was widely read at the time. Catharine used to give literary parties in the Old House—I’ve heard that Hawthorne and Melville came to tea. Despite her literary propensities, Catharine Sedgwick remained intensely loyal to her many brothers and sisters and to Stockbridge. Someone is supposed to have told her that she spoke of Stockbridge as if it were Heaven, to which Catharine replied, “I expect no very violent transition.”

Catharine’s brother Charles lies next to her in the Pie. He was an addled man who wandered about giving speeches to his livestock, especially to a favorite cow. One of his servants is thought to have said: “Ah, I’d rather be Mr. Sedgwick than anybody else in the wide world, and next to that I’d rather be Mr. Sedgwick’s cow!”

BOOK: Edie
4.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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