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March 13, 2009

"Divided Affections" author to sign copies of Maria Cosway's biography at WILLIAMSBURG Booksellers March 28

Biographer Carol Burnell will sign copies of her new book, “Divided Affections, The Extraordinary Life of Maria Cosway: Celebrated Artist and Thomas Jefferson’s Impossible Love,” 2-6 p.m. Saturday, March 28 at Williamsburg Booksellers®, 101 Visitor Center Dr.

“Divided Affections” tells the story of Maria Hadfield Cosway, a beautiful and talented English artist, who accompanied her husband, the painter of miniature portraits, Richard Cosway, to Paris, in 1786, where she was introduced to Thomas Jefferson, then American Envoy to the Court of Versailles. The future president of the United States is said to have fallen in love with the young Mrs. Cosway the day they met.

Thomas Jefferson, portrayed by Colonial Williamsburg actor/interpreter Bill Barker, will appear from at 4-5 p.m. and reflect upon his relationship with Mrs. Cosway.

Burnell read English literature at Columbia University as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. After several years spent teaching, she entered government service, notably in the White House as an aide to the First Lady and later writing speeches for the American ambassador to France, while serving in the U.S. Embassy. In reading the papers of a former resident of the White House, Thomas Jefferson, and following the Paris footsteps of the second American envoy to France, the same Mr. Jefferson, Burnell discovered and became fascinated by the charming Mrs. Cosway.

Living in France for more than 20 years, where she worked as a speechwriter for a large international company, the author pursued her interest in Maria Cosway’s life, carrying out research in Italy, France, Britain and the United States.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121