A chat with Harrigan

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I sat down recently to talk with Austin author Stephen Harrigan about his upcoming book, “A Friend of Mr. Lincoln,” and the story about his new book is scheduled to be published Jan. 31.

But as usual, everything he said won’t make the article, which focuses mainly on Harrigan’s research of the young Abraham Lincoln as a circuit rider and politician in Springfield in his early days.

So here’s a tidbit from Harrigan on weaving Mary Todd, Lincoln’s wife, into his historical fiction:

“She was really fun to write,” Harrigan said. “You know, certain characters are a struggle for you, but certain characters, when you’re writing, you think, ‘Oh, I know that person.’ And Mary fell into that category where I felt she was someone I’d met and known. And she’s really interesting to put on the page.

As many people know, history hasn’t been particularly kind to Lincoln’s wife and partner. And Harrigan acknowledges that “she was a difficult person.”

“But she was also vivacious and fiercely intelligent. Had she lived in a different time, she’d be accepted. … She’s a woman who is frustrated by history. The only way into a political life for her is to marry some aspiring politician. She was every bit as ambitious as Lincoln was, and much more polished.”

 


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