American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the “It” Girl and the Crime of the Century
Florence Evelyn Nesbit was born in the mid-1880s to a middle-class family, but her fortune took a turn upon the sudden death of her father. When a local artist asks a pre-teen Evelyn to pose for a portrait, the young beauty quickly becomes a sensation. Her career as a model takes her to New York City, playground of the wealthy, where she captures the attention of renowned architect Stanford White—and of profligate playboy Harry Thaw. Evelyn’s relationship with White and Thaw leads to a crime that shook the rich and talented of New York City and captivated the attention of everyday Americans.
Though Nesbit’s story takes place at the turn of the 20th century, the author could be describing the rise of any number of modern-day celebrities whose stars rise and fall before the age of twenty-five. Part cautionary tale about the perils of sudden and abrupt fame, part Gilded Age true crime story, Uruburu’s book reminds us that few stories are completely new, and that prurient interest in the lives of the wealthy and beautiful is not a product of contemporary popular culture.