April 24, 1919, Philadelphia Inquirer

BOOK OF THE DAY
"The Soul of Ann Rutledge," by Bernie Babcock, is something new in American literature and it is amazing that it is a genuine contribution to the biography of Abraham Lincoln. By this time it had been supposed that almost every possible angle of the life of the Great Emancipator had been considered in literature, but Mrs. Babcock was happy in taking up the subject of Lincoln's earliest love and one which some assert was his only love. The matter is of especial interest because many think that the peculiar mental characteristics of Lincoln were largely developed through the death of Ann Rutledge and that his early married life, while normally happy, was of such an unusual character that this drove him into politics as a sort of relief.

The story before us is based on a careful study not only of all that is known of the two young people most concerned but of the environment and the social conditions of the period in the West. As told the narrative is fiction, although it is as close to history as any such work can be at this distance of time. While it may seem difficult for some to believe that his little prairie flower was such an unusual young woman it is fortunate that abundant evidence exists as to the general veracity of what this narrative discloses.

Life in Central Illinois eighty years ago was so different from anything which exists now that it is hard to get back to that environment unless one is personally familiar with some of the conditions in other though later primitive communities. In his day Abraham Lincoln was as well off as the average young man. It is ridiculous to think that his rise was spectacular because of obstacles of poverty and station. Also Ann Rutledge was a young woman who might have married the richest man in the section without comment. It is because we learn not only of Lincoln and his lost love but of the time and place and historical atmosphere that this book is so interesting and instructive. As a story of a lovely girl of long ago it is charming. Published by the J.B. Lippincott Company.

Contributed by Kristin Vaughn

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