National Book Award Finalist From one of our most accomplished and widely admired historians, a revelatory portrait of Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister and a history of history itself. Like her brother, Jane Franklin was a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator. Unlike him, she was a mother of twelve. Benjamin Franklin, who wrote more letters to his sister than he wrote to anyone else, was the original American self-made man; his sister spent her life caring for her children. They left very different traces behind. Making use of an amazing cache of little-studied material, including documents, objects, and portraits only just discovered, Jill Lepore brings Jane Franklin to life in a way that illuminates not only this one woman but an entire world--a world usually lost to history. Lepore's life of Jane Franklin, with its strikingly original vantage on her remarkable brother, is at once a wholly different account of the founding of the United States and one of the great untold stories of American history and letters: a life unknown.
"By restoring Jane so vividly to the historical record, Lepore provides a fresh, personal perspective on Benjamin. And so extraordinarily demanding was her research, even the appendixes in Lepore's vibrantly enlightening biography are dramatic....Lepore's stature grows with each book, and this first telling of a remarkable American story, supported by a national tour and generous print run, is destined for an even greater readership." --Donna Seaman, "Booklist "(starred review) "New Yorker writer Lepore masterfully formulates the story of Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister, who will be virtually unknown to many readers, using only a few of her letters and a small archive of births and deaths....Jane Franklin was an amazing woman who raised her children and grandchildren while still having the time to read and think for herself. We can only see into her mind because her correspondent was famous and because a vastly talented biographer reassembled her for us." --"Kirkus "(starred review) "This book is an important, inspiring portrait of a determined and faith-filled woman who just happened to be the sister of a big shot. It will be enjoyed by all." --"Library Journal" (starred review) ""Book of Ages" is the name of Lepore's extraordinary new book about Jane Franklin, but to call it simply a biography would be like calling Ben's experiments with electricity mere kite flying....The end product is thrilling--an example of how a gifted scholar and writer can lift the obscure out of silence. In so doing, Lepore enriches our sense of everyday life and relationships and conversational styles in Colonial America....The brilliance of Lepore's book is that plain Jane's story becomes every bit as gripping--and, in its own way, important--as Big Ben's public triumphs." --Maureen Corrigan, NPR "In this beautifully written double biography, Lepore brings into focus not just the life of Jane Franklin Mecom, alongside that of her brother, but illuminates
Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at "The New Yorker. "Her books include "New York Burning, " a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; "The Name of War, " winner of the Bancroft Prize; and "The Mansion of Happiness, "which was short-listed for the 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.