The progeny of a South Carolina gentleman and his slave, the Harleston family rose from the ashes of the Civil War to create an American cultural dynasty and achieve an affluence that afforded them the comfort of chauffeurs, tailored clothes, and servants whose skin was darker than theirs. Their wealth also launched them into a generation of glory as painters, performers, and photographers in the “high yellow” society of America’s colored upper class. The Harleston’s remarkable 100-year journey spans from the waning days of Reconstruction to the precious art world of the early 1900s, down the back alleys of the Jazz Age, and to the dangers of the dawning Civil Rights movement.
Enhanced by the recollections of the family’s archivist, 84-year-old Edwina Harleston Whitlock, The Sweet Hell Inside draws characters rarely seen before: cultured, vain, imperfect, rich, and black, a family made up of eccentrics who defied social convention yet whose advantages could not protect them from segregation’s locked doors, a plague of early death, and the stigma of children born outside marriage.
This engrossing story raises the curtain on a unique family drama in the pageant of American life and uncovers a fascinating lost world.
- Author: Edward Ball
- Publisher: William Morrow & Company 2001-09-30
- Formats: Print – $7.00