Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

I Mary: A Biography of the Girl Who Married Abraham Lincoln, Ruth Painter Randall’s chronological account of Mary Todd Lincoln’s life, begins with her life as the privileged daughter of the proud clan that founded Lexington, Kentucky, and ends with her death almost twenty years after the 1865 assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The biography’s nineteen chapters are enhanced by relevant photographs and sketches.

Randall tells how, following difficulties with her stepmother, Mary Todd traveled to Springfield, Illinois, to stay with her elder sister, the wife of one of Springfield’s most prominent citizens. It was there that the attractive, cheerful young woman met, fell in love with, and married the struggling young attorney Abraham Lincoln.

Mary’s ambition for her husband’s career in law and politics is discussed, as are the ways in which she fulfilled her role as wife of a successful politician. This role was always combined with that of a good and caring parent. The animosity that existed between Mary and Lincoln’s law partner, William Herndon, is described, and the difficult and unhappy existence that Mary endured following her husband’s death comprises the book’s final chapters.

One of several important themes that surface is how Mary Lincoln’s life was shaped by a series of grievous losses, beginning with the death of her mother when she was only six years old and her subsequent estrangement...

(The entire section is 494 words.)