Saturday, July 25, 2009

Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens: A Life in Pictures

Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens: A Life in Pictures

From the Author: As the immediate family of Edith Bouvier Beale, it is with great pleasure and pride that we present this collection of work after almost half a century of collecting dust in family archives.

Following her death in 2002 our family began the heartbreaking task of putting my aunt, Little Edie's, remaining possessions in order. Nostalgic and captivated, I carefully sifted thought the contents of the boxes, suitcases, and scrapbooks that she had saved over the decades: photographs, journals, writings, poetry, sketches, and letters were packaged in small, labeled bundles (an arrangement that eventually made the publication of this collection possible), that presented an insightful chronology of Little Edie's life.

Although Little and Big Edie Beale were thrust into the public's view following the release of the Grey Gardens documentary, the true story of Little Edie's life has essentially remained a mystery since the mid 1950's. In contrast to the documentary, what became strikingly clear was the love, dedication, and seeming normalcy of her privileged youth. Filled with family vacations, costume parties, soirées, fashin shows, fundraising functions, and weekly trips to the cinema, the Beale family lived a remarkably loving life within the Hamptons high society of the early 20th century. I found an astounding number of photographs, letters, and poems from her childhood, presenting quite the contrast to the cats and decrepitude of Grey Gardens during the 1970s. However, as was reflected in various letters, bank statements, and attorney correspondences, as the economic pressures of the Depression years set it, life began to change for little Edie at Grey Gardens, gradually transforming into the familiar scene of the 1970s documentary. Nonetheless, despite the Beale's steady economic decline over the course of almost half a decade, the loving and graceful writings from these years make their continued creativity, dedication to one and other, good nature, and attempt to maintain their dignity conspicuously clear.

Immediately following my Aunt Edie's death, I began the arduous process of reconstructing her young life in order to compile this collection. As a close family member, I have enjoyed the privilege of having Edie's humor and wisdom in my life, and as a result this anthology was conceived with deep dedication, understanding, and personal connection.

We hope this book will help see Edie differently and with a deeper appreciation of how she grew into the familiar character from the Grey Gardens documentary. We hope not to only restore her dignity, but also make known her sensitivity, passion, and genius that we, as her family, remember vividly. It was clear that Little Edie wanted her story to be shared.

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