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The Lee Girls

Mary P. Coulling

John F. Blair, Publisher
$16.95 paperback
6 x 9
242 pages
Published in 1987

The Lee Girls chronicles the lives of Robert E. Lee's four daughters from 1834 to the death of the last surviving daughter in 1918. Using diaries and letters, Coulling follows the women from their idyllic childhood at their ancestral Arlington home through the hardships of war and the turmoil after the war.



“Based on twenty years of research, Coulling's chronological recounting of the lives of Robert E. Lee's four daughters fills a historical gap that encompasses not only the Civil War but also the sociological spectrum of life for southern women in the nineteenth century . . . Coulling sheds light on Robert E. Lee's unwavering devotion to his daughters—including some psychologizing about his impact on the ladies' spinster status . . . Coulling's account is competently written . . . A welcome addition to active history collections.” —Booklist
“Coulling's thoroughly researched study of Robert E. Lee's four daughters is a splendid book . . . Coulling writes very well as the narrative flows smoothly throughout. She balances nicely the focus on the daughters and the historical context of the times. Scrupulously documented, her book may be read profitably by both general and academic reader.” —CHOICE
“Anyone interested in Robert E. Lee the man will be delighted with the insights into his family provided by author Coulling. Lee was an exceptional leader, but his role as a father was even more revealing of his loving nature and the nuances of his personality. In my opinion, this book does a lot to demystify Lee. I do not see him as such a complex and mysterious individual as some historians have labeled him. His consistency is especially evident in this chronicle of family life. Apart from Lee, the book focuses extensively on the lives of the daughters. Each daughter is portrayed as a complete person, and her individuality is celebrated. One can learn quite a bit about Mary Lee the mother, too, and even the grandparents who were so deeply loved by the girls. The sons are not ignored, either. There is an overcast of sadness about the story. At least I felt a little sad, because they did have a difficult life. It's true that the Lee family was prominent in society and certainly they can be seen as privileged, but these privileges carry their own burden. I highly recommend The Lee Girls to all those who want to escape to the past for awhile and enter into the Lee household.” —Amazon.com reviewer
“Robert E. Lee's daughters are the subject of this beautiful and poignant book. So touching is the correspondence between the General, his wife and daughters that you feel like an interloper. The lost art of letter writing as practiced by the Lee family gives a vivid picture of Antebellum, Civil War, and Recontruction-era social history.” —Amazon.com reviewer