Edwards, Elizabeth 1949- (Elizabeth Anania, Mary Elizabeth Edwards)

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Edwards, Elizabeth 1949- (Elizabeth Anania, Mary Elizabeth Edwards)


Born July 3, 1949, in Jacksonville, FL; daughter of Vincent J. Anania (a U.S. Navy pilot and lacrosse coach); married John Edwards (an attorney and politician), July 30, 1977; children: Wade (deceased), Catharine, Emma Claire, Jack. Education: Attended Mary Washington College; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A., J.D., 1977, and doctoral work. Politics: Democrat.


Home—Chapel Hill, NC.


Attorney. U.S. District Court Judge Calvitt Clarke, Jr., Norfolk, VA, law clerk, c. 1977; North Carolina Attorney General's Office, member of staff, until 1984; Harwell, Barr, Martin & Sloan, associate attorney, 1978-81; Merriman, Nicholls & Crampton, Raleigh, NC, associate attorney, 1984-96; Wade Edwards Foundation, cofounder, with husband, John Edwards, and administrator, 1996—. University of North Carolina School of Law, adjunct instructor, c. 1993; formerly worked as a substitute teacher in Wake County Public Schools. University of North Carolina, member of Public Fellows of College of Arts and Scientists, 1996-97, and member of Board of Visitors; member of board, Books for Kids. Cofounder, Vincent J. Anania Lacrosse Scholarship, 1992.


Named among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World.


Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers (memoir), Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2006.


Elizabeth Edwards was first introduced to the American public in 2004 as the wife of John Edwards, John F. Kerry's running mate in Kerry's failed bid for the U.S. presidency. She has kept her place in the public eye due to her passionate advocacy of social causes as well as for the strength of character she has shown in weathering tragedy in her personal life. A practicing attorney for much of her adult life, Edwards shares her husband's dedication to improving education, housing, and economic equality for all Americans, particularly for children and families. Her influence expanded to America's health when she learned, only a few days prior to the election that would signal the Kerry-Edwards ticket's defeat, that she had breast cancer. As interest in Edwards expanded, Americans learned that this was not the first tragedy to touch the North Carolina native; eight years before, in 1996, the Edwards's sixteen-year-old son, Wade, had died in a car accident. Elizabeth Edwards's memoir, Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers, reveals her emotional journey, and the life experiences that helped its author through these difficult times.

Edwards met her husband, a trial lawyer and former U.S. Senator from North Carolina, when both were students at the University of North Carolina Law School. Married only days after Elizabeth's graduation, the two embarked on legal careers, Elizabeth practicing under her maiden name, Elizabeth Anania. After a stint as a judicial clerk and another on staff at the office of the North Carolina Attorney General, she joined her husband in a move to a Raleigh firm, where she worked as an associate until retiring from the law in 1996, following the death of her son. By devoting herself to establishing and administering the Wade Ed- wards Foundation, Elizabeth was able to cope with her personal grief while also working to improve the opportunities available to young people in her community.

When her husband began his run for vice president, Edwards actively supported his campaign and frequently joined him in public appearances. Her cancer diagnosis, a dramatic point in the campaign, was ironically echoed two years later. During John Edwards's early efforts to secure the 2008 Democratic nomination for U.S. President in a campaign that began months earlier than normal, Elizabeth joined her husband in a press conference to make a sobering announcement: her cancer had returned. Noting that her Stage IV cancer, while incurable, was treatable, Elizabeth expressed her determination to live out her life as fully as possible, continuing her plan to raise her young children and actively support her husband's dreams of a political career. While optimistic, Edwards was also pragmatic, accepting the fact that, because her future now might last only a decade, the things she planned to do at age eighty should best be done now. As she told Jonathan Alter in an interview for Newsweek "There's going to be a day before each of us die, and you have to think a little bit about how you want that day filled…. I want that to be a productive day about which I am enormously proud, as opposed to a day where I had the covers pulled up over my head. That's unbelievably important to me."

In Saving Graces, Edwards focuses on the death of her son and her battle with breast cancer. Through stories that introduce her close-knit military family and its many relocations, as well as the many friends she has met while growing up, raising her family, working, and actively supporting her husband's political career, she shows how the human relationships she has kindled throughout her life help her deal with such tragedy. Calling Edwards "both an optimist and a realist with the ability to laugh at herself," a Publishers Weekly contributor praised Saving Graces as "disarmingly moving." In her review for the Raleigh-Durham Independent Weekly online, Christy Hardin Smith agreed with this assessment, although noting that Edwards's emotional sadness, "so close to the surface … is wrenching, and sometimes a very difficult read." But Smith added, the honest intimacy of Edwards's memoir "is also what makes Saving Graces such an unusually candid and engaging book."



Edwards, Elizabeth, Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2006.


American Spectator, December, 2006, Florence King, review of Saving Graces, p. 92.

National Review, April 15, 2007, Noemie Emery, "Reasons for Being: Elizabeth Edwards, Tony Snow, and Us," p. 22.

Newsweek, July 19, 2004, Melinda Henneberger, "The Spouse: A Woman of the People" (interview), p. 31; April 9, 2007, Jonathan Alter, interview with Edwards.

People, April 9, 2007, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, "Moving Forward," p. 54.

Publishers Weekly, July 31, 2006, review of Saving Graces, p. 68.

Time, October 2, 2006, Andrea Sachs, interview with Edwards.


Harry Walker Agency Web site,http://www.harrywalker.com/ (May 15, 2007), "Elizabeth Edwards."

Independent Weekly Online (Raleigh-Durham, NC), http://www.indyweek.com/ (December 6, 2006), Christy Hardin Smith, review of Saving Graces.

National Public Radio Web site,http://www.npr.org/ (November 24, 2006), Michele Norris, interview with Edwards.

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Edwards, Elizabeth 1949- (Elizabeth Anania, Mary Elizabeth Edwards)

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