Behind the Scenes
by Elizabeth Keckley
Behind the Scenes Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House is an autobiographical narrative by Elizabeth Keckley. In it she tells the story of her life as a slave and her time as a seamstress for Mrs. Lincoln in the White House.
Source: Keckley, E. (1868) Behind the Scenes London, England: Partridge and Oakey
- A preface by the author, giving some background about the book and her own life.
- Chapter 1: Where I Was Born
- The author discusses the place of her birth and her memories of her parents.
- Chapter 2: Girlhood and its Sorrows
- Elizabeth goes to live with her master's eldest son.
- Chapter 3: How I Gained My Freedom
- Elizabeth is given the opportunity to purchase the freedom of herself and her son.
- Chapter 4: In the Family of Senator Jefferson Davis
- Elizabeth goes to work for the Davis family as a free woman.
- Chapter 5: My Introduction to Mrs. Lincoln
- Now in Washington D.C., Elizabeth is introduced to Mrs. Lincoln.
- Chapter 6: Willie Lincoln's Death-bed
- Elizabeth is once again called to work at the White House. Willie Lincoln's health continues to worsen.
- Chapter 7: Washington in 1862-1863
- As the Civil War continues to escalate, the members of the Lincoln family begin to feel the strain of the conflict. Willie's death continues to affect Mrs. Lincoln.
- Chapter 8: Candid Opinions
- While working in the White House, Elizabeth overhears the private conversations of the President and Mrs. Lincoln.
- Chapter 9: Behind the Scenes
- Elizabeth describes her interactions with new freedmen and freedwomen in the White House. Mrs. Lincoln's debts continue to grow.
- Chapter 10: The Second Inauguration
- Mrs. Lincoln pays a visit to Elizabeth regarding a dress for the President's inauguration.
- Chapter 11: The Assassination of President Lincoln
- Elizabeth receives bad news regarding the President and his cabinet.
- Chapter 12: Mrs. Lincoln leaves the White House Behind the Scenes
- Following the death of President Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln prepares to leave the White House. Elizabeth's business continues to prosper.
- Chapter 13: The Origin of the Rivalry between Mr. Douglas and Mr. Lincoln
- Elizabeth recounts Mr. Douglas' attempted courting of Miss Mary Todd.
- Chapter 14: Old Friends
- Elizabeth reminisces about Mrs. Anne Garland and her family.
- Chapter 15: The Secret History of Mrs. Lincoln's Wardrobe in New York
- Mrs. Lincoln's debts force her to part with some of her wardrobe.
- Appendix—Letters from Mrs. Lincoln to Mrs. Keckley
- Various correspondence between Mrs. Lincoln and Elizabeth.
- Year Published: 1868
- Language: English
- Country of Origin: United States of America
- Flesch–Kincaid Level: 7.4
- Word Count: 60,930
- Genre: Memoir
- Keywords: 19th century literature, african american literature, american history, american literature, autobiography, behind the scenes, biography
Keckley, E. (1868). Behind the Scenes. (Lit2Go ed.). Retrieved March 30, 2023, from https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/87/behind-the-scenes/
Keckley, Elizabeth. Behind the Scenes. Lit2Go Edition. 1868. Web. <https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/87/behind-the-scenes/>. March 30, 2023.
Elizabeth Keckley, Behind the Scenes, Li2Go edition, (1868), accessed March 30, 2023, https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/87/behind-the-scenes/.