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Composition in Black and White - The Life of Philippa Schuyler

  • $37.95 GST included
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Title: Composition in Black and White - The Life of Philippa Schuyler
Author: Talalay, Kathryn M.
Price: $37.95

During the 1930s and 40s she graced the pages of Time and Look magazines, the New York Herald Tribune, and The New Yorker. Philippa grew up under the adoring and inquisitive eyes of an entire nation and soon became the role model and inspiration for a generation of African-American children. But as an adult she mysteriously dropped out of sight, leaving America to wonder what had happened to the "little Harlem genius."

Suffering the double sting of racism and gender bias, Philippa had been rejected by the elite classical music milieu in the United States and forced to find an audience abroad, where she flourished as a world-class performer and composer. She traveled throughout South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia performing for kings, queens, and presidents.

By then Philippa had added a second career as an author and foreign correspondent reporting on events around the globe - from Albert Schweitzer's leper colony in Lamberene to the turbulent Asian theater of the 1960s. She would give a command performance for Queen Elisabeth of Belgium one day, and hide from the Viet Cong among the ancient graves of the Annam kings another. But behind the scrim of adventure, glamour, and intrigue was an American outcast, a woman constantly searching for home and self. "I am a beauty - but I'm half I'm always destined to be an outsider," she wrote in her diary.

Philippa tried to define herself through love affairs, but found only disappointment and scandal. In a last attempt to reclaim an identity, she began to "pass" as Caucasian. Adopting an Iberian-American heritage, she reinvented herself as Felipa Monterro, an ultra-right conservative who wrote and lectured for the John Birch Society. Her experiment failed, as had her parents' dream of smashing America's racial barriers.

But at the age of thirty five, Philippa finally began to embark on a racial catharsis: She was just beginning to find herself when on May 9, 1967, while on an unauthorized mission of mercy, her life was cut short in a helicopter crash over the waters of war-torn Vietnam.

The first authorized biography of Philippa Schuyler, Composition in Black and White draws on previously unpublished letters and diaries to reveal an extraordinary and complex personality. Extensive research and personal interviews from around the world make this book not only the definitive chronicle of Schuyler's restless and haunting life, but also a vivid history of the tumultuous times she lived through, from the Great Depression, through the Civil Rights movement, to the Vietnam war. Talalay has created a highly perceptive and provocative portrait of a fascinating woman.

"The first critical and authorized biography ever published of this extraordinary woman whose life was exemplified by a continuing struggle with racism as well as with issues of her own bi-racial identity." - Black History

"This enthralling, heartbreaking book restores to attention Philippa Schuyler....Thanks to Kathryn Talalay...for focusing on the Schuyler's story, researching it so energetically and telling it so sensitively." - The New York Times Book Review

"[This] is as compelling as the best fiction." - The Dallas Morning News

"Weaving a rich tapestry of sources Talalay skillfully brings Philippa Duke Schuyler's life into sharply edged, finely detailed focus in a story full of unusual event, mythic drama and enduring social issues....This is a story of our times not to be missed." - San Francisco Chronicle

"One of the most vivid and artfully constructed biographies yet written about any contemporary African American woman." - The Women's Review of Books

Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 02/06/1997
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780195113938
Publishing status: AU Print-on-demand
Composition in Black and White - The Life of Philippa Schuyler