Marie Boozer, also known as Mary (1846–1908), was a beautiful, brilliant, and notorious strawberry-blonde who lived a remarkable life. Above all, she was human—complete with foibles and attributes beyond the stereotypical perception held by the public. Bad Scarlett: The Extraordinary Life of the Notorious Southern Beauty Marie Boozer is her first full-length biography.
Author, historian, and professor emeritus at Emory University Bell Irvin Wiley deemed Marie Boozer “one of the four most famous southern women of the Civil War.” Popular southern historian Manly Wade Wellman wrote that she was the basis for the character of Scarlett O'Hara.
Bad Scarlett reveals the true, redemptive story of a young belle from Columbia, South Carolina, whose life changed dramatically during the Civil War, when she fell in love with a handsome, honorable Union officer (uncannily like Ashley Wilkes). Scorned by Southerners and forced to marry a wealthy New Yorker she didn't love, Marie then transformed into a scandalous divorcée in Manhattan and London, a Paris courtesan defying police authority, and ultimately the Countess de Pourtalès-Gorgier and world citizen—while her half-sisters raised families in pioneer Florida.
Finally, Marie Boozer's entire story is told. Legends about her, including the Kilpatrick myth, are demolished and her mother's letter to Abraham Lincoln as well as Union soldiers' diaries prove who burned Columbia, South Carolina.
Rave reviews for Bad Scarlett:
“A skilled historian and imaginative writer, Deborah C. Pollack has replaced half-truths and prejudices with a complete, exhaustively-researched biography of Marie Boozer’s life. Pollack also has rescued La Boozer from 150 years of calumny, smirking innuendos, and insipid scholarship at the hands of Lost Cause zealots, pot-boiler novelists, and pop culture historians. The real-life Marie Boozer had a character that was braver, more independent, and far grander than any of the legends about her.” --Alexander Moore, historian of South Carolina
"Bad Scarlett is a meticulously researched and engagingly written biography of Marie Boozer. Like the fictional Scarlett O'Hara, Marie was a stunning beauty whose good looks and vivacious personality charmed all the men who met her. Despite her beauty, charm, and noble marriage, not everyone admired Marie. ...Pollack finds the role that journalists, novelists, and historians of her native state played in denigrating Marie's character and perpetuating falsehoods about her actions and whereabouts especially intriguing." --Amy Thompson McCandless, Dean of the Graduate School, College of Charleston, from her review in South Carolina Historical Magazine, January 2018.
"The bibliography and notes show significant research in archival sources, and one of the stated goals of the biography is to address the many rumors, half-truths, and outright fabrications associated with Boozer's colorful life. One chapter in particular, titled "The Kilpatrick Myth," immediately grabbed my attention. As the stories go (and Pollack claims that 25 non-fiction titles published during the past 15 years perpetuate the legend), Boozer was one of the infamous ladies that accompanied General Kilpatrick during Sherman's 1865 march through the Carolinas, and she was sleeping with the general when his command was surprised and temporarily routed at the Battle of Monroe's Crossroads (the famous "Shirttail Skedaddle"). Pollack's research found no factual basis for these tales, noting that Boozer was never with Kilpatrick and instead traveled north with General Howard's column (that trip being documented in the following chapter)." --Andrew Wagenhoffer, Civil War Books and Authors
"One of the best biographies I've read in a long time. A vivid account of one woman's extraordinary life. A brave woman who rose above the gossip and innuendo surrounding her earlier life. Hurtful gossip which would continue to plague her throughout her life. Extraordinarily written and researched by Deborah Pollack who has set the record straight. A must read for anyone interested in history and especially 19th century social customs. A remarkable retelling of an almost forgotten story." --Barry Myers, Curator, Lightner Museum, Saint Augustine, Florida
"Marie Boozer was a liberated woman for her time and lived an interesting and exciting life with many trials and tribulations. In a well-written biography, Deborah Pollack's extensive research to right the wrong about Marie Boozer's life is extraordinary. I enjoyed the relationship between her sister Ethland Feaster Wilson and other family members at LaGrange, Florida.”
--Rosalie Foster, historian and president, North Brevard Heritage Foundation
"An excellent read." --Kihm Winship, copywriter, blogger, and author, New York