Rosenberg LibraryRoenberg Library
2310 Sealy Street, Galveston, TX 77550-2220
(409) 763-8854
fax (409) 763-0275
Rosenberg Library Announces Museum Book Club Fall Selection

Cover image of Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Cover image of Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell's
Empty Mansions

Rosenberg Library is pleased to announce its selection for the Fall 2014 Museum Book Club Series: Empty Mansions – The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.

The first meeting of the Fall 2014 Museum Book Club will take place on Wednesday, September 24th from 12 noon – 1:30 pm. A second session will be held on Thursday, November 13th from 12 noon – 1:30 pm. Empty Mansions co-author Bill Dedman will participate in a live video chat during both programs.

The Museum Book Club meets in the McCullough Room on the library’s second floor. Light refreshments are provided at all sessions.

Empty Mansions explores the mystery surrounding reclusive American heiress Huguette Clark. Born at the turn of the twentieth century, Ms. Clark was the daughter of copper magnate William Andrews Clark and his second wife Anna LaChapelle who was nearly forty years his junior. Though their name is largely forgotten, the Clarks were at one time among the wealthiest and most powerful families in the country.

Born in her mother’s native France in 1906, Huguette lived the first four years of her life in Paris. After moving back to America with her parents and her older sister, she lived a very privileged life in New York City. Her father built the family of four a lavish 120-room mansion along Fifth Avenue which overlooked Central Park. Huguette attended the city’s most prestigious schools and as an adult became an accomplished artist and a passionate collector. She owned fine jewelry, antiques, and paintings (including works by Degas, Cezanne, and Monet) worth millions of dollars. Despite her social status, the highly private Huguette shied away from publicity throughout her lifetime. Until she died in 2011, no photographs of her had been published since the 1920s.

In her later years, Huguette voluntarily chose to live in a modest hospital room rather than in one of her luxury properties. From there, she corresponded with friends and pursued her hobbies which included arranging dolls in custom-made dollhouses. She also gave away staggering sums of money to her staff and caregivers.

With information gathered from interviews, personal correspondence, and legal testimony, Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Bill Dedman examines the unconventional life led by Huguette Clark and the subsequent battle over her $300 million estate after her death at age 104.

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Bill Dedman is an investigative reporter for NBC News and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book Empty Mansions – The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.

For Empty Mansions, Dedman collaborated with Paul Clark Newell, a cousin of Huguette Clark. Newell communicated regularly with Ms. Clark via telephone over the course of nine years. During these conversations, Clark relayed many stories about her life and the family. Excerpts of these memories are included in the book.

Rosenberg Library’s Museum Book Club offers participants the chance to experience art and literature in a more interactive way. Members have the opportunity to view rarely exhibited art and historical artifacts from the library’s permanent collection as they discuss related books.

Book Club participants will experience an up-close look at items similar to those owned by Huguette Clark and her father, W.A. Clark, which are part of the Rosenberg Library’s permanent collection. Among these are antique Japanese dolls, delftware, a tapestry shuttle from the legendary Gobelin factory, and a large oil painting by Adolphe Monticelli which was damaged during the Great Fire of 1885 in Galveston.

Registration is required for all Museum Book Club meetings. Established book clubs are encouraged to participate. Groups of over 10 people are asked to call the Reference Desk in advance to arrange accommodations.

Empty Mansions is available for checkout at the Rosenberg Library and is available for download as an e-book through Overdrive. Visit or call 409-763-8854 ext. 115 for additional information or to register.