Brady, Patricia 1943–

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Brady, Patricia 1943–

(Patricia Brady Schmit)

PERSONAL: Born January 20, 1943, in Danville, IL; daughter of Edward Harrison (an engineer) and Louise (a homemaker; maiden name, Hanks) Brady; married James L. Schmit, 1965 (divorced, 1987); children: Colin Edward, Elizabeth Duncan. Education: Tulane University, B.A. (cum laude), 1965, M.A., 1966, Ph.D., 1977; attended Institute for Documentary Editing, 1980. Religion: Episcopalian. Hobbies and other interests: Walking, bicycling, roller skating, reading.

ADDRESSES: Home—170 Walnut St., New Orleans, LA 70118. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Viking Publicity, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

CAREER: Dillard University, New Orleans, LA, instructor, 1969–73, assistant professor of history, 1973–80; Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans, LA, editor of The Butler Papers, 1980–82, director of publications, 1982–2002; writer. Member of board of directors of Bouligny Improvement Association, 1988–91, and Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, beginning 1991.

MEMBER: Association for Documentary Editing, Southern Historical Association, Louisiana Historical Association (member of board of directors), New Orleans/Gulf South Booksellers Association (member of board of directors and vice president, 1991–), Friends of the New Orleans Public Library (member of board of directors, 1989–91), Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta.

AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellow, 1965; Fulbright fellow, 1974.

WRITINGS:

(Editor, under name Patricia Brady Schmit) Nelly Custis Lewis's Housekeeping Book, Historic New Orleans Collection (New Orleans, LA), 1982.

(General editor, under name Patricia Brady Schmit) Encyclopaedia of New Orleans Artists, 1718–1918, Historic New Orleans Collection (New Orleans, LA), 1987.

(Editor) George Washington's Beautiful Nelly: The Letters of Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis to Elizabeth Bordley Gibson, 1794–1851, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1991.

(Editor, with Louise C. Hoffman and Lynn D. Adams) Complementary Visions of Louisiana Art: The Laura Simon Nelson Collection at the Historic New Orleans Collection, Historic New Orleans Collection (New Orleans, LA), 1996.

(Editor, with John H. Lawrence) Haunter of Ruins: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1997.

(Editor, with Samuel Wilson, Jr., and Lynn D. Adams) Queen of the South: New Orleans, 1853–1862: The Journal of Thomas K. Wharton, with an introduction by Samuel Wilson, Jr., Historic New Orleans Collection (New Orleans, LA), 1999.

Martha Washington: An American Life, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.

Also author, under name Patricia Brady Schmit, of introduction for reprint of The W.P.A. Guide to New Orleans, Pantheon, 1983. Work represented in anthologies, including Cross, Crozier, and Crucible. Contributor of articles and reviews to history journals and newspapers.

SIDELIGHTS: Patricia Brady has edited numerous books about the history of the South, but she may be best known as the author of the biography Martha Washington: An American Life, published in 2005. "This solid, scholarly biography," as Linda V. Carlisle termed it in the Library Journal, "transforms" the first First Lady of the United States "from a stodgy historical figure into a charming and vibrant woman." Brady accomplishes this in part by focusing on Washington as a young woman, before she and her husband became famous. Although there has been some recent speculation that George Washington may have had an affair with a woman named Sally Fairfax, Brady dismisses this theory and presents evidence that the Washingtons' marriage was passionate and healthy. According to Brady, George and Martha were a well-matched pair, with George appreciating Martha's intelligence, frequently trusting her as a sounding board and confidante, and relying on her skills in social affairs to help him form personal alliances. Brady also shows the influence that Washington had on the role played by later First Ladies; it was Washington who envisioned the role as one of hostess rather than queen. "Brady's splendid biography offers a compelling new portrait of this passionate, committed founding mother," concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

Brady told CA: "I meant to major in English in college, but almost accidentally became a history major. After years of teaching and writing scholarly papers, I have found my way back by combining history and writing in the field of biography. Biography is, to me, the unfolding of the self and of relationships."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 1997, Donna Seaman, review of Haunter of Ruins: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin, p. 535; May 15, 2005, Margaret Flanagan, review of Martha Washington: An American Life, p. 1631.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2005, review of Martha Washington, p. 394.

Library Journal, June 1, 2005, Linda V. Carlisle, review of Martha Washington, p. 141.

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1991, review of George Washington's Beautiful Nelly: The Letters of Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis to Elizabeth Bordley Gibson, 1794–1851, p. 42; May 2, 2005, review of Martha Washington, p. 187.