Thirteen first ladies of the United States have written a total of twenty-two memoirs. The first lady is the hostess of the White House, and the position is traditionally filled by the wife of the president of the United States, with some historical exceptions. Every memoir by a first lady published in the 20th and 21st centuries has been a bestseller, at times outselling those of their presidential husbands. In the early 1800s, Abigail Adams had her correspondence published as Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams, and Louisa Adams “made several attempts at an autobiography”, although she never sought to publish them. Julia Grant was the first to write and attempt to publish her memoirs, writing The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant in the 1890s after the death of her husband, Ulysses S. Grant, but she never found a suitable publisher for them before her death in 1902. Helen Taft was the first to have memoirs published during her lifetime, in 1914. Memoirs by presidential spouses were uncommon until the 1970s; most first ladies have written and published at least one memoir about their life since Betty Ford’s publication of her first memoir in the late 1970s. (Full list…)
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