Available on Amazon.
In 1898, Ida M. Beard self-published My Own Life, the story of her failed marriage. By 1911, she had sold 20,000 copies. That year she published her second book, The Mississippi Lawyer or, Was It All a Dream?, a selection of love letters from William Maybin, a lawyer she met in 1904 while on a book tour. The Mississippi Lawyer also describes how she discovered the lawyer’s history of marital failure and drug abuse.
Ida’s eccentric arrangement of the letters and the lawyer’s crafty self-revelations make the story hard to follow. In his introduction and annotations, J. S. Absher explains Maybin’s troubled past and the course of their failed romance. A poet with a sensitive ear for language, Absher shows how profoundly the lovers relied on the literature of the day—including poetry, popular novels, Gospel songs, and more—to express their feelings, tell their stories, and impress their readers.