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currents
By Alyson Taylor White
Mrs. Washington’s Big Reveal
Not Your Mother’s Martha
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in size (she was just about five feet tall in stocking feet) she more than made up for in charisma and character.

Not unlike today’s ultimate make over reality shows, Patricia Brady helped Martha with a remarkable physical and historical makeover for her dramatic “final reveal.” Using a portrait that belongs to the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, and with the help of experts at LSU, Ms. Brady created an image that most likely
represents the young Martha Washington at her best. The LSU lab usually create images of how children who have been kidnaped or persons
Author Patricia Brady at a successful book signing in Richmond at the Library of Virginia. She has also appeared on C-SPAN where she discussed her findings from research for her book Martha Washington, An American Life.
Martha Washington, An American Life, 2005, by Patricia Brady, published by Penguin Press, 276
pp, $24.95.

   t is odd but true that when people talk about our nation’s early First Ladies, Martha Washington is not always the first name mentioned. Abigail Adams, who first lived in
the White House comes into the conversation. And Dolly Madison, the perennial hostess with the mostest is a favorite. People seldom consider the impact their mentor and predecessor, Martha Washington had on the role of First Lady. History and perhaps historians so far have not been on poor Martha’s side. The standard image of her is short and squat and more than usually frumpy for her age. My memories of my first trip to Mount Vernon as a child remind me that someone asked a question about Martha. The guide all but ignored the question as if Martha Washington had nothing
to do with the place except to sit in corner obediently and knit. Thanks to a new book by Patricia Brady, we now learn those old images were just bad PR by disinterested historians. The real Martha was quite a gal, and a terrific catch for George Washington to boot. What she lacked

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This striking cover art of First Lady Martha Washington was commissioned just for this book, and is an age regressed version of portraits of her done in middle age.