Book Cover of The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Murray

The main character is Belle da Costa Greene, J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian in the early 1900s. In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J.P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection, to be shared with the world. But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white – her complexion is dark because she is African-American. Belle’s mom changes the family history and moves everyone to New York City to live life as a white family. Belle is an extraordinaire woman and she spends her life pretending to be a white female, working among some of the most powerful white men of that time period.