Emily Herring Wilson: The Three Graces of Val-Kill

Emily Herring Wilson: The Three Graces of Val-KillWe’re continuing our Fall Preview today with a feature on The Three Graces of Val-Kill: Eleanor Roosevelt, Marion Dickerman, and Nancy Cook in the Place They Made Their Own by Emily Herring Wilson, which focuses fully for the first time on the relationship of Eleanor and the “three graces”, as well as her time at Val-Kill. The biography also sheds new light  on the tumultuous time for Eleanor as FDR ascended to the governorship and eventually the presidency, revealing the changing nature of her relationships at this time. Don’t forget to pre-order!


The Three Graces of Val-Kill changes the way we think about Eleanor Roosevelt. Emily Herring Wilson examines what she calls the most formative period in Roosevelt’s life, from 1922 to 1936, when she cultivated an intimate friendship with Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook, who helped her build a cottage on the Val-Kill Creek in Hyde Park on the Roosevelt family land. In the early years, the three women—the “three graces,” as Franklin Delano Roosevelt called them—were nearly inseparable and forged a female-centered community for each other, for family, and for New York’s progressive women. Examining this network of close female friends gives readers a more comprehensive picture of the Roosevelts and Eleanor’s burgeoning independence in the years that marked Franklin’s rise to power in politics.

Wilson takes care to show all the nuances and complexities of the women’s relationship, which blended the political with the personal. Val-Kill was not only home to Eleanor Roosevelt but also a crucial part of how she became one of the most admired American political figures of the twentieth century. In Wilson’s telling, she emerges out of the shadows of monumental histories and documentaries as a woman in search of herself.

Emily Herring Wilson author photoEmily Herring Wilson resides in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is author of No One Gardens Alone: A Life of Elizabeth Lawrence and coauthor of North Carolina Women: Making History.


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