Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All

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Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
Author Allan Gurganus
Country United States
Language English
Genre Fiction
Published 1989

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All is a 1989 first novel by Allan Gurganus[1] which was on the New York Times Best Seller list for eight months. It won the Sue Kaufman Prize from The American Academy of Arts and Letters,[2] was a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and sold over four million copies.

The novel is written as supposedly dictated to a visitor to the nursing home of ninety-nine-year-old Lucy Marsden, who was married around 1900 when she was 15 and her husband, Captain William Marsden, was 50.[1] Through this motif, the novel explores issues of race and personal relationships in the historical context of the American South. According to the author's web site,[3] "If Captain William Marsden was a veteran of the 'War for Southern Independence,' Lucy became a 'veteran of the veteran' with a unique perspective on Southern history and Southern manhood. Her story encompasses everything from the death of a Confederate boy soldier to the feisty narrator's daily battles in the Home — complete with visits from a mohawk-coiffed candy-striper."

Stage and television adaptions[edit]

The book was made into a television miniseries, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, broadcast on CBS in 1994.[4] Cicely Tyson won one of its four Emmy Awards as best supporting actress; other Emmy wins were for Hairstyling, Costume Design, and Art Direction for a Miniseries or special.[5]

The book was adapted by Martin Tahse into a one-woman play, which was developed by the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego. The play premiered there in January 2003, with Ellen Burstyn starring.[6] The play then opened on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre on November 17, 2003 and closed after one regular performance.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b Reed, Susan and Hutchings, David."He's 42, She's 99—Together They Make the South Rise Again" People Magazine, September 18, 1989
  2. ^ "Kaufman Prize Winners" artsandletters.org, accessed September 1, 2013
  3. ^ 'Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All' allangurganus.com
  4. ^ O'Connell, Patricia. "Review." Variety, May 2, 1994
  5. ^ Emmys emmys.com, accessed August 31, 2013
  6. ^ Ehren, Christine. "Ellen Burstyn Premieres 'Oldest Living Confederate Widow' at San Diego's Globe Jan. 26" playbill.com, Oct 25, 2002
  7. ^ Finkle, David. "Reviews. 'Oldest Living Confederate Widow'" theatermania.com, November 17, 2003
  8. ^ "'Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All'" ibdb.com, accessed August 31, 2013

External links[edit]