The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century


In 1901 Evelyn Nesbit, a chorus girl in the musical Florodora,dined alone with the architect Stanford White in his townhouse on 24th Street in New York. Nesbit, just sixteen years old, had recently moved to the city. White was forty-seven and a principal in the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White. As the foremost architect of his day, he was a celebrity, responsible for designing countless landmark buildings in Manhattan. That evening, after drinking champagne, Nesbit lost consciousness and awoke to find herself naked in bed with White. Telltale spots of blood on the bed sheets told her that White had raped her.

She told no one about the rape until, several years later, she confided in Harry Thaw, the millionaire playboy who would later become her husband. Thaw, thirsting for revenge, shot and killed White in 1906 before hundreds of theatergoers during a performance in Madison Square Garden, a building that White had designed.

The trial was a sensation that gripped the nation. Most Americans agreed with Thaw that he had been justified in killing White, but the district attorney expected to send him to the electric chair. Evelyn Nesbit's testimony was so explicit and shocking that Theodore Roosevelt himself called on the newspapers not to print it verbatim. The murder of White cast a long shadow: Harry Thaw later attempted suicide, and Evelyn Nesbit struggled for many years to escape an addiction to cocaine. The Girl on the Velvet Swing, a tale of glamour, excess, and danger, is an immersive, fascinating look at an America dominated by men of outsize fortunes and by the the women who were their victims.


A true story that gripped the country in the early 1900’s, but this story would be headlined no matter what the year. The story begins about a young girl Evelyn Nesbit who by the age of 16 is an actress and because of her beauty and me am thinking age she is being wined and dined by wealthy men of New York. One of the men who actually become enamored with her is an architect, Stanford White. One day she goes to his home for lunch and after drinking some wine, alcohol and maybe adding something to her champagne she wakes up naked in bed with White next to her calming her down saying or actually telling her everything will be okay but don’t tell anyone. Another man became attracted to her as well and when White paid for Nesbit mother to travel with her to Europe. This trip is where she would meet her future husband Harry Thaw who would also become obsessed with her and her beauty, and were when the trial began that the district attorney would come back and use this as just one of the many ways as to try to discredit Nesbit story. Thaw would continue to follow her around and she finally agreed to his proposal of marriage, but she also told him about what had happened with Stanford White. Then a few years later when they were all at a perforce in Madison Square Garden which had been designed by White, Thaw walked up to him and shot him. Now the rest of the book is mostly the two trails of Henry Thaw. The author takes you through both but really the first one is the one that takes up most and where the young Nesbit because of her age and thinks people are in her corner and is thrown off when she is on the stand by the way the district attorney attacks her, and also her mother is no help by giving the impression that she thought her daughter was telling the truth. This goes back to the trip and the money that the mother took and that White paid the mother more money because she was poor. Thaw on the other hand and his family distanced themselves from her as well and by the time the second trail came Nesbit still stuck to her story but was not as naive, though she still would be taken advantage of by Thaw’s family attorney’s, not agreeing to the terms of the divorce. A very interesting story that had many different aspects to it. Money and power, and you must still remember women still did not have the right to vote yet, and when my grandmother graduated from college during this time she was not given a diploma like men were they, they were given certificates, women could not even sit on juries. Just things to think about. I believe Nesbit and her story and the end of the book goes into what happened to her life until her death. A very good book. I received this book from I gave it 4 stars. Follow us at

No comments:

Post a Comment

We ask that when you are leaving a comment that you are remebering that children may be reading this blog, without the knowledge of a consenting adult. We all put our disclaimers on to get into the sites but kids are smart. Please be aware when posting to use safe language and pics. Thanks :)

                                                                      Back to You #1 Hard Crush HARD CRUSH                                  ...