Fame and Anne Lindbergh

Posted: Friday, February 09, 2001

The following editorial appeared in today's Philadelphia Inquirer:

She lived out the fantasies of many a romantic schoolgirl: Meet and marry a gallant, handsome hero. Share with him soaring adventures, while still finding time to tend to your rich inner life.

She lived through some of the worst nightmares a woman could fear. Have your firstborn child stolen from you in the dark of night, then murdered. Endure years of emotional abuse from a husband who proved as flawed as he was charismatic. Feel the lash of public opinion as it turns from adulation to scorn.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh experienced all that in a life that ended Wednesday at the age of 94.

Through it all, she wrote about it all. She wrote of her rapt courtship and long, wounded marriage with famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. She wrote lyrically of what it was like to skim the clouds with him. She wrote of being victimized by the "Crime of the Century," the 1932 kidnapping and murder of 20-month-old Charles Jr. She wrote of the disdain that her husband's early coziness with the Third Reich earned the couple.

She was one of the first people to be swept into the vortex of worldwide celebrity spawned by the rise of modern media.

Fame proved a cruel bargain for this shy woman; in a sense, it even cost her a son. Yet through decades lived in a harsh spotlight with a harsh man, she held on to a spirited sense of self.

Though she lived a life like that of few women, her 1955 book, "A Gift from the Sea," seemed to speak to millions in its meditations on how modern life buffets the female spirit. Perhaps that was because, for all its high drama, Mrs. Lindbergh's life propelled her along an arc of opportunity and sacrifice, of joy and anguish, in which many women could see a hint of their own struggles.

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