Madcap May - Signed Copy
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Signed by the author Richard Kurin
Richard Kurin (Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem), the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution, offers an engaging portrait of a forgotten icon: the once famous “Madcap” May Yohe (1866–1938). Born to innkeepers in Bethlehem, Pa., May grew up to be a world-renowned stage actress of the early 20th century, as famous for her roles as for her love life. The tallest tales can be found in the truest stories, and Yohe lived a life full of such exoticism—her collection of pets just a minor example of her flamboyance—that today’s celebrity antics seem quaint by comparison.
After multiple scandalous dalliances and engagements, she married Lord Hope—of the Hope Diamond—and later divorced him for the dashing son of New York political royalty. Both men were disappointments, but the trials of love could not stop this stage goddess from her calling. Kurin’s breezy biography, Madcap May: Mistress of Myth, Men & Hope, transports the reader to the pomp of a lost era and shows us a diva who entertained, enraged, and surprised a nation through the end of one century and the beginning of the next. Kurin rediscovered Yohe in his research around the Hope Diamond and its legend; his portrait of this madam of the stage is a credit to her one-time notoriety and lingering ghost. 288-page hardcover book with 82 black and white illustrations.
Gems accumulate history. The very stone that once adorned a king or queen might today be set in someone’s cocktail ring. (The history of the Hope Diamond includes a stint in the French Crown Jewels, a daring theft, two recuttings, and purchase by an English king.) The astonishing replica collections—a mere sampling of the extraordinary holdings in our National Museum of Natural History’s National Gem Collection—let you dazzle in their reflected glory.
Every Smithsonian purchase will arrive with a museum provenance card explaining how it is adapted from or inspired by an object or objects in our collection.
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