I, like many other readers of Elizabeth Keckley's Behind the Scenes or, Thirty years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, have given her "autobiography" another look. My dog-eared copy of the 1868 book republished in 1988 has long provided me with a perspective on women's work, professional dressmaking and the Lincoln presidency, the last of which is called increasingly into question.
To summarize: In 1868 Elizabeth Keckley published the book with the New York publishing house of G.W. Carleton & Company (note spelling of Keckley with two E's) . The book is available online at various sites (See links at the bottom here.) One source is Documenting the American South, which tells us:
"Though the verifiable facts in Behind the Scenes have affirmed the text's authenticity, there is speculation about the level of involvement of Keckley's editor, James Redpath. Lincoln scholars have relied on the autobiography for information about White House domestic life, anecdotes about President Lincoln, and Mary Lincoln's experiences and opinions during the 1860s. Lincoln biographers have quoted extensively from Keckley's text." (And many of the domestic scenes in the Stephen Spielberg 2012 film Lincoln are drawn from the book.)
The spelling error is minor compared to other injuries from the book but it is interesting that she seems so far removed from the publication process that she had no say in proofreading her own name. And ever after there is an extra E.
“Mrs. Swizzlem, the colored authoress of Mrs. Keckley's book, was in the diplomatic gallery with one of Mrs. Lincoln's dresses on, counting through an opera glass the pimples on the face of one of the Senators. She hates his wife, Alonzo says, and means to worry her.”
Mrs. B., not a reliable source.
How reliable is Mrs. K?
Two links to read Behind the Scenes: