A Good Morning America Book Club Pick
Photo of Belle da Costa GreeneThe remarkable story of J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the African-American woman who was forced to cover her true identity and pass as white to go away an enduring legacy that enriched our nation, from ny Times bestselling author Marie Benedict, and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.
In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a set of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in ny City society and one among the foremost powerful people within the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.
But Belle features a secret, one she must protect in the least costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is that the daughter of Richard Greener, the primary Black graduate of Harvard and a well known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark due to her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.
The Personal Librarian tells the story of a unprecedented woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity within the racist world during which she lives.