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The Hidden Heart of Charm City:

Baltimore Letters and Lives

(AH/Loyola University Maryland/2019)

Baltimore County Public Library Book Club Selection/ January 2021


Praise for The Hidden Heart of Charm City:

Did you think that cartographers had already completed the map of Baltimore? Think again. With The Hidden Heart of Charm City: Baltimore Letters and Lives, Katherine Cottle sheds new light on the city through the examination of intimate letters by some of the city’s most prominent residents and visitors. From John Adams to Eleanor Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman, Mark Twain to Ralph Waldo Emerson, F. Scott Fitzgerald to Edgar Allan Poe, Cottle shows us Baltimore as it was to those who experienced it—in a way that only personal letters between friends and loved ones can.

                   Eric D. Goodman,

                   Author of Setting the Family Free, Womb: a novel in utero, and                         Tracks: A Novel in Stories

Baltimore has always been a crazy quilt kind of city, in Cottle's phrase, "messy, intersectional, layered, and incomplete." An accessible compendium of small and tasty surprises, this book adds and organizes layers to our knowledge of the place.

                   Madison Smartt Bell,

                   Critically acclaimed author of more than twenty novels, short                             fiction collections, and nonfiction texts, including All Souls' Rising,                     Toussaint Louverture: A Biography, Devil's Dream, and Charm City


(Photo: Washington Monument, Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore, Maryland, 1912, courtesy of the Library of Congress)

In lively and engaging prose, Cottle teases out the multiplicity of feelings privately expressed by public figures, showing that intimate letters are not antiquated documents, but vital signposts for understanding our current times.

MichelleTokarczyk, author of Working-Class Women in the Academy and Bronx Migrations


The Hidden Heart of Charm City produces an altogether new theoretical framework that promotes and innovates recently scholarly trends to expand the boundaries of what constitutes primary texts in literary and socio-historical scholarship.

Joy Myree-Mainor, author of Re-reading the Social Protest Tradition

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