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Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All is a 1989 first novel by Allan Gurganus which was on the New York Times Best Seller list for eight months. It won the Sue Kaufman Prize from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, was a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and sold over four million copies. It was made into a television play on CBS with Cicely Tyson winning one of its four Emmy Awards as best supporting actress.
The book was adapted by Martin Tahse into a one-woman play on Broadway in 2003, starring Ellen Burstyn. The play opened at the Longacre Theatre November 17, 2003 and closed after one regular performance on November 18, 2003, earning the notoriety of having closed almost immediately after its opening night. The show held this record until May 6, 2008 when Glory Days closed immediately after its opening night.
The novel is written as supposedly dictated to a visitor to the nursing home of ninety-nine-year-old Lucy Marsden, who was married around 1900 when she was 15 and her husband, Colonel William Marsden, was 50. Through this motif, the novel explores issues of race and personal relationships in the historical context of the American South. According to the author's web site , "If Colonel William Marsden was a veteran of the 'War for Southern Independence,' Lucy became a 'veteran of the veteran' with a unique perspective on Southern history and Southern manhood. Her story encompasses everything from the death of a Confederate boy soldier to the feisty narrator's daily battles in the Home — complete with visits from a mohawk-coiffed candy-striper."