We’ve all heard the saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Talented biographer Flora Fraser has made a career of delving into the lives of these quietly powerful women in history. Her research led to her book “The Washingtons: George and Martha, “Join’d by Friendship, Crown’d by Love.” And that book led to her being honored with the 2016 George Washington Prize.
Fraser was awarded the prize, which came complete with $50,000, at a black-tie gala at the Mount Vernon estate. The award is one of the largest in the nation and strives to honor the best new works on the United States’ founding era, especially those that engage a broad public audience.
“The Washingtons” was published in 2015 to the tune of critics and scholars alike singing its praises in unison. Covering our first president’s public life and accomplishments is common, and has been presented in many literary pieces throughout history, but the thoroughness with which Fraser examined the marriage bonds between Washington and his Mrs. is unrivaled.
“Flora Fraser’s book The Washingtons opens a whole new vista on Martha and George Washington’s married life,” said James Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute. “Through Fraser’s stylish prose, this iconic couple becomes more human and accessible. The result is a wonderful read.”
Fraser is not a first-time author, nor is she a stranger to success (her mother is Antonia Fraser). She has written at least four other books (“Beloved Emma: The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton”; “The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline”; “Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III”; and “Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire”) and she also established and chairs the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography. All of the London resident’s accomplishments haven’t diminished the honor of this award, though.
“I feel greatly the honor that has been accorded The Washingtons,” Fraser said. “George and Martha’s marriage was an inspiring partnership to chart. The George Washington Prize, fruit of another partnership among three distinguished homes of learning, Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, is an accolade which I shall long treasure.”