The Girl on the Velvet Swing

Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century


By Simon Baatz

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From New York Times bestselling author Simon Baatz, the first comprehensive account of the murder that shocked the world.

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 women who were their victims.




EDNA GOODRICH SETTLED INTO HER SEAT AS THE HORSE PULLED away from the curb. The coachman flicked his whip, pulling gently on the reins to steer the chestnut-brown mare into the street. The lunch hour traffic had dispersed, and Thirty-eighth Street was now almost deserted. The horse cantered eastward, toward Broadway.

Goodrich glanced at the young girl seated beside her. Evelyn Nesbit was leaning forward slightly, looking straight ahead, clutching the hat on her head with her right hand and holding the handrail with her left. Edna Goodrich, smugly satisfied at her success, settled herself more comfortably in her seat as the hansom slowed at the approach to Broadway.1

The carriage, suddenly stuck in the congestion of wagons and carts that crawled south along Broadway, almost came to a stop. The girl released the grip on her hat and turned to interrogate her companion.

Who was Stanford White? she asked. Why had Edna pestered her so insistently to accept his invitation? Since Evelyn’s first appearance on the stage, six weeks previously, dozens of men had tried to attract her attention. They sent her flowers; they shouted her name from the stalls; some waited for her at the stage door. What, she inquired, was so special about Stanford White that they should spend an afternoon fighting the traffic to get across town to visit him?

Edna Goodrich, amused that Evelyn remained unaware of Stanford White’s existence, patted the girl’s hand reassuringly. White, she replied, was a great man, perhaps the greatest man in New York. He was the architect who had designed so many of the city’s most famous buildings, the man responsible for Madison Square Garden on Twenty-sixth Street, the man who had built the Washington Square Arch on Fifth Avenue. He knew everyone, and everyone knew Stanford White. And because he was friendly with so many actors and directors—he had designed the Players’ Club on Gramercy Park—Stanford White was influential among theater folk. “He can make you,” Edna confided to Evelyn, her voice full of meaning, “anything you wish to be on the stage.”2

Edna Goodrich was feeling pleased with herself. Stanford White had mentioned to her, several weeks earlier, the photographs of Evelyn that he had seen in the New York World. Who was this new girl? he asked. How could he meet her? Goodrich, one of the singers in the Florodora sextet, had become acquainted with Evelyn at the end of June after the manager of the company, John Fisher, hired Evelyn as a chorus girl.3

The carriage left Broadway, turning onto Twenty-fourth Street, finally coming to a halt before a brownstone house set back from the sidewalk. Evelyn Nesbit looked up in surprise, disappointed that their rendezvous would occur in such a nondescript building. She had thought she might meet Stanford White at the Waldorf Hotel; but they had arrived instead at a large four-story house distinguished from its neighbors only by its shabby, unkempt appearance. The building seemed forbidding, even menacing, as it sat silently in the afternoon sunshine. There was no sign of life within the house, and Evelyn, as she glanced upward, scanning each floor, saw that heavy curtains covered all the windows. She felt a sudden chill—should she enter this gloomy place?—as she imagined the tomb-like silence inside.4

Edna Goodrich paid the driver his fare and was now ascending the steps to ring the bell. The door opened inward automatically at her touch, without that familiar click that would indicate the release of a lock, and she began climbing a flight of rickety wooden steps to the second floor.

Evelyn Nesbit stood in the doorway, looking up into the darkened stairwell.

“Where on earth are we going?” she asked anxiously.

“It’s all right,” Edna answered, pausing to reassure her friend. “Come right along. Go on up,” she added cheerfully.

Evelyn began to follow her companion, and as she started up the steps, a door opened at the top of the stairwell. A light appeared, casting its rays on the topmost steps. A man’s voice, deep and resonant, a welcoming voice, boomed out a sudden greeting—“Hello”—and as she reached the top of the stairs, Evelyn could see Edna Goodrich leaning into Stanford White, embracing him and kissing him on the cheek.5

White stepped backward as Evelyn entered the room. He gazed at her, admiring her figure, his eyes lingering over Evelyn as she stepped shyly forward. She was just as beautiful as he had anticipated from her photographs in the newspapers; indeed, now that he had met her, Stanford White realized that she was one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. Her cream-colored leghorn hat, trimmed with artificial flowers above the brim, was tilted slightly to one side. A taffeta ribbon circled the crown of the hat and fell away behind her, down her back, entwining itself around the long curls of her copper-red hair. Her cream-white blouse and her frock, an ankle-length summer dress of white mull, gave Evelyn a trim, youthful look, making her appear even younger than her sixteen years, an effect exaggerated by the timorous expression that crossed her face as she entered the apartment. White studied her carefully, noticing her large hazel eyes and her full lips. He saw that her nose had a slight upward tilt; her chin was precise, chiseled to perfection; and her forehead was clear and radiant.6

He glanced momentarily at Edna Goodrich, giving her a look of appreciation that she had introduced him to this marvelous vision. A second man, Reginald Ronalds, approached, and both men listened attentively as Edna Goodrich introduced Evelyn, telling them that Evelyn had recently joined the chorus in the musical Florodora playing at the Casino Theatre. Evelyn was a newcomer to the city, having moved with her mother and younger brother to New York only eight months before, in December 1900.

Stanford White introduced his friend to Edna Goodrich and Evelyn Nesbit. Reginald Ronalds, thirty-five years old, had graduated from Yale University in 1886 and had fought with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Despite his claim that he worked on Wall Street, no one, not even his closest friends, had any precise idea how Ronalds made his living; but since he always appeared to have plenty of money, it hardly seemed to matter. In truth, Ronalds lived an indolent existence, dining at his clubs, appearing at the fashionable dances, mingling with the city’s aristocracy, and generally enjoying the leisurely life of a man-about-town. Everybody liked him—he was one of the wittiest men in New York—and he was rarely absent from any of the more important events on the social calendar.7

The dining table had been set for four people. The two men fussed over Evelyn during the luncheon, teasing her for her girlish appearance, bantering with her, and peppering her with questions. Did she find New York as glamorous as she had imagined? How did she like her role in the Florodora chorus? Where did she dine? Whose invitations had she accepted? Did she prefer Delmonico’s or Rector’s for supper? Evelyn gave her attention more to Reginald Ronalds than to Stanford White—Ronalds was the younger, better-looking man, six feet tall with blue eyes and blond hair—and he joked and flirted with her, appearing all the while solicitous for her welfare, forbidding her to drink more than a single glass of champagne.

Evelyn relaxed; her shyness had left her; the champagne had washed away her inhibitions and she had forgotten her initial apprehension. She felt a slight disappointment that Reginald Ronalds had to leave early—he had to go to his office, he explained—but Stanford White invited his other guests to stay a little longer. And neither Edna Goodrich nor Evelyn Nesbit was in a hurry to depart; both women were in Florodora, and the evening performance did not begin until seven o’clock.

Stanford White suggested a tour of the house. They ascended the stairs, bypassing the rooms on the third floor, climbing to the topmost level. A large studio with a high ceiling ran the entire length of the fourth floor. This room, like the dining room, was elaborately decorated: artificial light illuminated the red velvet curtains that shut out the sunlight; antique divans and couches, covered with velvet cushions, lined the four sides of the room; and a card table and four chairs stood near the windows at the front of the building.

A swing, attached to the high ceiling by two velvet cords, hung in the center of the room. A large circular paper screen, stretched taut in a thin wire frame, was attached to a pulley suspended from the ceiling. This screen, decorated with a Japanese motif, could be raised above eye level so that it hung directly over the swing.

Stanford White took Evelyn by the hand, helping her to sit on the padded velvet seat of the swing. Edna Goodrich stood a few feet in front of her, pulling slightly on the rope to raise the Japanese screen. Evelyn could feel White’s hands on her back, pushing her higher and higher so that her outstretched feet came closer and closer to the screen. Edna, holding the rope in her hands, began to laugh as she watched Evelyn’s futile attempts to touch the screen with her feet, and Evelyn also started to laugh at her own helplessness. No matter how hard she strained in her seat, no matter how she urged herself forward, her feet could not pierce the screen that hung invitingly a few inches in front of her.

Evelyn realized that White was controlling her movement with his hands, pushing her just so much, so that despite her efforts, she could not break the paper. But finally, with a single strong push of his hands on her back, Evelyn soared higher than before and her feet split the screen in two.

White replaced the torn screen and Edna Goodrich now took her turn, climbing onto the seat of the swing. Evelyn held the rope, lifting the screen into the air, laughing in her turn as Edna also eventually pierced the paper.8

It was all great fun and it had been so unexpected; and they continued to amuse themselves until almost four o’clock. Reluctantly the party disbanded. White announced that he had to go to his office on Fifth Avenue. Edna and Evelyn, meanwhile, had to go uptown to the Casino Theatre to prepare for that evening’s performance.

Evelyn Nesbit’s encounter with Stanford White seemed to epitomize the sudden good fortune that had accompanied the family’s move to New York. Evelyn, along with her mother and brother, had scraped and struggled, often in desperate poverty, for years. Now, it seemed, everything had changed. Two years earlier Evelyn Nesbit was holding a menial job in a Philadelphia department store; now she was on the Broadway stage.

She had been born on Christmas Day in 1884 in Tarentum, a village outside Pittsburgh. Her father, Winfield Scott Nesbit, was a Pittsburgh lawyer, commuting each day to his office on Diamond Street. Many years later Evelyn would recall her early childhood with fondness. She remembered the affection that had existed between her father and her mother, Florence, an affection that included her and her brother, Howard.

But Winfield Scott Nesbit had died unexpectedly in 1893, and his death proved traumatic for his widow. Florence Nesbit was singularly ill-prepared for her loss: she had no formal education and little practical experience outside the home. She had lived in her husband’s shadow, and his death left her suddenly bereft.

Nothing was now more painful to Florence Nesbit than the daily humiliation of her impoverishment. Her former acquaintances and friends soon dropped away, and eventually she sold the house in Tarentum, moving the family to Cedar Avenue in the East End, one of the least desirable neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. She rented out rooms to lodgers, took in laundry, and tried her hand at dressmaking, all the while struggling with melancholy and depression, but her efforts were never enough, and gradually the family slipped into poverty.9

Her decision in 1899 to move the family to Philadelphia, a larger, more cosmopolitan city, proved to be a turning point. Florence Nesbit secured a position as a saleswoman in Wanamaker’s, the largest department store in the city.

She grew to dislike the work there—it required stamina and self-discipline to stand at the counter all day talking to customers—but Florence quickly found new friends among the other lodgers at the boardinghouse on Arch Street where she and her children lived. Everybody made a great fuss over her fourteen-year-old daughter. Evelyn Nesbit was such a pretty girl, so adorable and sweet, and everyone who saw her immediately remarked on her beauty.

An artist, John Storm, visiting his sister at the Arch Street boardinghouse, noticed Evelyn and asked Florence Nesbit if her daughter would pose for him. Soon other artists also were using Evelyn as their model. Violet Oakley designed stained-glass windows for several Philadelphia churches, and Evelyn was one of the models immortalized in glass as a celestial angel. Philadelphia, then the publishing capital of the United States, had many book and magazine illustrators working for such firms as Curtis Publishing and J. B. Lippincott, and Evelyn was soon in demand as an artist’s model. She had worked briefly with her mother as a stock girl at Wanamaker’s, a job she disliked, and she was thrilled that she could now earn money posing in costume for artists and illustrators.10

If Philadelphia had provided such opportunities for Evelyn, would New York City not prove even more profitable? Her daughter’s triumph in Philadelphia as an artist’s model encouraged Florence Nesbit to imagine that Evelyn might achieve even greater success; and so, in 1900, she moved with her two children to New York, taking rooms in a boardinghouse on West Twenty-second Street.

Florence, who had been initially reluctant to allow her daughter to pose as a model, had long since shed her inhibitions on the matter and now acted as Evelyn’s agent in New York. One painter, Carroll Beckwith, hired Evelyn immediately, paying her five dollars to pose for two afternoons each week in his studio in the Sherwood Building on West Fifty-seventh Street. Beckwith was an important figure in New York’s artistic community, and soon other artists, hearing of Evelyn’s beauty, contacted Florence Nesbit for permission to employ her daughter.11

That permission was rarely denied. Frederick Stuart Church, then fifty-nine years old, hired Evelyn to pose for him each week in his studio on Forty-fourth Street. The sculptor George Grey Barnard used her as the model for his marble figure Innocence, and Charles Dana Gibson, a well-known sketch artist, portrayed Evelyn in several of his classic illustrations of the American girl.12

Evelyn could command a fee of five dollars for each sitting—the customary amount for an artist’s model in 1901—and the money she made supported the family during the first year in New York. But she could obtain more than twice that amount posing for the photographers who supplied the New York magazines with illustrations for the fashion pages. Very soon her picture was ubiquitous.13

It was inevitable that her image, widely reproduced in the pages of such newspapers as the New York World and the New York Journal, should attract the attention of theatrical agents looking for new talent to put on the stage. Ted Marks, one of the first agents to contact Florence Nesbit about her daughter, promised that he could get Evelyn a role in the musical Florodora, then playing at the Casino Theatre.

But the manager, John Fisher, had been reluctant to hire Evelyn Nesbit. She was young, too young to go on the stage, and he knew that he might invite an investigation by the authorities if he employed her. But one of his chorines was leaving Florodora the next week. Evelyn was very pretty and could dance passably well, and so, in June 1901, she joined the company as a chorus girl with a weekly salary of fifteen dollars.14

The Casino Theatre stood at Thirty-ninth Street and Broadway from 1882 until it was demolished in 1930. The Casino, designed in a style best described as Moorish Revival, included a tower that resembled a minaret. The musical comedy Florodora played at the Casino from November 1900 until it moved uptown in October 1901 to the New York Theatre. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-det-4a08580)

Florodora had had a two-year run on the London stage, at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, before moving to Broadway in November 1900. The first act, set on an island, Florodora, in the Philippines, tells how Cyrus Gilfain, the owner of a perfume factory, expects his daughter Angela to marry his manager, Frank Abercoed. But Frank has fallen in love with Dolores, a girl who works in the factory.

The second act of the play moves to Wales, where Gilfain has bought a castle. A ghost haunts the castle, eventually forcing Gilfain to confess that he stole the title to the perfume factory: Dolores is the rightful owner. Everything ends happily: Frank Abercoed marries Dolores; Angela Gilfain marries an army officer; and Cyrus Gilfain marries Lady Holyrood, an aristocratic widow.15

Florodora, despite its improbable plot, was popular beyond all expectations, playing to acclaim in both London and New York. Its catchy tunes, attractive girls, and extravagant costumes all conspired to make the play, a comic opera, an immediate success in New York, and it eventually ran for more than five hundred performances on Broadway.16

The Florodora sextet—some of the most beautiful women in New York—was the centerpiece of the show, the fulcrum on which Florodora pivoted. These dancers were the stars of the Broadway stage, celebrities whose talents and beauty had earned them fame. Evelyn Nesbit, never more than a mere chorus girl, a bit player on the stage, would watch from the wings, admiring their poise and grace, aspiring to become a member of the famous ensemble. All six women—Frances Belmont, Susan Drake, Daisy Green, Edna Goodrich, Katherine Sears, and Clarita Vidal—knew Stanford White well, and it was one of them, Goodrich, who would first introduce Evelyn Nesbit to the architect.17

The musical comedy Florodora played at the Casino Theatre from 1900 to 1901. The members of the Florodora sextet—reputedly six of the most beautiful women in New York—are shown here in a scene from the second act. This illustration originally appeared in a 1900 souvenir album. (Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts)

Evelyn had given little thought to her first encounter with Stanford White. It had been amusing to spend the afternoon in his apartment, playing on the velvet swing; but it was just one novel experience among the many that she had had since her arrival in New York. Stanford White, moreover, had not impressed her; his friend Reginald Ronalds had been better-looking, younger certainly, and more amusing. White, then forty-seven, had seemed somehow remote, more distant, less a companion than a vaguely avuncular presence.

It came as a surprise, therefore, that she should receive a second invitation from White a few days later. White had also asked Elsie Ferguson, an actress then appearing in The Strollers at the Knickerbocker Theatre, along with her companion, Thomas Clarke, a dealer in porcelain and antique furniture. The second occasion was not dissimilar from the first: White and his three guests had luncheon in the dining room on the second floor, later ascending to the fourth-floor studio to play on the velvet swing.18

White, on this occasion, was less reserved, more carefree, more relaxed, and altogether better company. He was not handsome in a conventional sense, Evelyn thought; but there was a warmth in his manner that seemed to invite intimacy even with those acquaintances who had known him for only a short time. He was tall and imposing, six feet two inches, long-limbed, with gray-green eyes and a shock of spiky red hair. He seemed at first sight slightly awkward in his movements, almost as if he were self-conscious about his appearance. He had been good-looking as a young man, twenty years before, but he was now middle-aged, slightly overweight, and he was no longer as dashing as he believed himself to be.19

There was something almost childlike about his exuberant enthusiasm, a quality that could be simultaneously endearing and exasperating. He was generous, charitable toward those less fortunate than he, but too often he acted spontaneously, always on some whim, rarely paying heed to the consequences, rarely thinking too far into the future.20

Evelyn gave as little thought to her second encounter with White as she had given to her first. White had impressed her as a man who seemed more considerate and thoughtful than the majority of men she had met since her arrival in New York, but there was little else in their encounters that captured her interest. Evelyn had long been aware that she attracted attention on account of her beauty, but it had never occurred to her that Stanford White had any intentions toward her.

It was so unexpected, therefore, that less than a week after the second meeting, her mother should receive a letter from Stanford White inviting her to visit him in his office on Fifth Avenue. Who was this man, Florence asked her daughter, who had asked to see her? Would it be proper, she wondered, for her to accept an invitation from someone to whom she had not yet been introduced? Evelyn had told her mother about her two encounters with Stanford White; she had described her adventures on the velvet swing; and she had portrayed White as sympathetic and kind, slightly eccentric perhaps, but surprisingly extroverted for someone so eminent. Evelyn had spent two afternoons in his company, yet, she confessed to her mother, she still knew almost nothing about him. He was an architect, she knew—and he was involved in some way with the theater—but otherwise she could provide her mother with very little specific information.

Florence Nesbit accepted White’s invitation to visit him at his office, and she returned singing his praises. He was the perfect gentleman, she told her daughter. His interest in Evelyn was, according to White, simply a consequence of his benevolent regard for those girls struggling to gain a foothold on the Broadway stage. He had significant investments in several New York theaters; he knew many actors and actresses; and his connection with the stage provided him with an agreeable diversion from his sometimes stressful architectural practice. He regarded himself, he had told Florence, as a patron of the arts, and there was no better way for him to promote the cultural life of New York than by supporting the theater.

Life had treated Florence Nesbit cruelly in the eight years since the death of her husband, yet she had remained untouched by the cynicism that typically accompanies misfortune. She was an innocent abroad, an ingénue who could never perceive the hidden motives that often undergird the actions of others. She accepted Stanford White’s kind words at face value, not suspecting that he might, in claiming the role of guardian over her daughter, be prompted by self-interest. She, Florence, had been tossed from one misfortune to the next, humiliated by her poverty, crushed by her failure to live as a respectable woman, and obliged to hire her daughter out as an artist’s model; and suddenly the skies had cleared with the arrival into her life of this considerate, thoughtful, generous man. Who was she to turn away such a philanthropist as Stanford White? Who was she to deny him the opportunity to take her daughter under his watchful guardianship? And the more she learned about Stanford White, the more fortunate she considered herself that such a distinguished man should take an interest in her daughter.21

By 1901 White’s career as an architect had traced a triumphal arc of accomplishment that extended over three decades. His father, Richard Grant White, had never succeeded in his attempts at a literary career—the family had lived always in genteel poverty—and he had never been able to afford to send his two sons to college. Stanford White, the elder of the two boys, had been fortunate, therefore, to begin an apprenticeship in 1872 at the age of nineteen as a protégé of Henry Hobson Richardson, the leading exponent of the Romanesque style in the United States and one of the principal partners in the New York firm Gambrill & Richardson.

Stanny, as he was known to his friends, soon realized his luck in gaining such a mentor as Richardson, who, for his part, came to appreciate that he could trust Stanford White to faithfully execute even the most complex tasks associated with the firm’s many commissions. White drafted the perspective drawings for the tower of Trinity Church in Boston in 1874 and hired the artists to design the murals for the church’s interior; he assumed responsibility for the decorative detail on Oakes Ames Memorial Hall in Easton, Massachusetts; he contributed to the interior decoration of the senate chamber of the New York State Capitol at Albany; and he worked closely with Richardson on several lucrative commissions for private houses in Newport, Rhode Island.22

In 1877 White, having served his apprenticeship and now employed as a draftsman at Gambrill & Richardson, joined with a few close friends in establishing the Tile Club, an informal group of artists and writers who met weekly for social conversation in one another’s homes. The Tile Club lasted only a decade, disappearing in 1887, yet it was an important institution, drawing together members of the city’s cultural avant-garde. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of the most celebrated sculptors of his generation, was a member, as were Louis Comfort Tiffany, Winslow Homer, and William Merritt Chase. Stanford White faithfully attended the weekly meetings, designing the studio on Tenth Street that subsequently served as the club’s meeting place after 1882.23

Stanford White served an apprenticeship with Henry Hobson Richardson before entering a partnership with Charles McKim and William Rutherford Mead in September 1879. White designed countless landmark structures in New York, most notably the Washington Square Arch, Madison Square Garden, the Herald Building, and the Judson Memorial Baptist Church. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ds-10592)

In August 1878 White journeyed through France on an architectural tour with Saint-Gaudens and a second acquaintance, Charles McKim. They traveled from Paris as far south as Marseille, making sketches of some of the buildings that they encountered on their way. McKim returned to the United States later that year, but White remained in Europe, staying with Saint-Gaudens in Paris, traveling through France, Belgium, and Italy, and returning to the United States in September 1879.

Charles McKim, following his return to New York, had joined with William Rutherford Mead, a draftsman working for the architect Russell Sturgis, in establishing a new firm. Stanford White had worked alongside McKim at Gambrill & Richardson in the early 1870s, and White also knew Mead; and so, on White’s return to New York, the three men established the firm of McKim, Mead & White, hiring draftsmen and renting office space on lower Broadway.24


  • "A terrifically entertaining work of popular history: swiftly paced, richly evocative, engrossing from the first page. . . . This vivid retelling of the 1906 murder of Stanford White couldn't be timelier. . . . The murder of Stanford White has been the subject of many other books [but] Baatz's gripping, deeply researched retelling is certain to stand as the definitive version."—Harold Schechter, Wall Street Journal
  • "Baatz has resurrected a forgotten saga of lust, lucre and lunacy that would seem improbable if it were merely fiction. . . . This true-life theater is packed with action [and] surprises."—David Holahan, USA Today (3 out of 4 stars)
  • "A gripping book that is nearly impossible to put down . . . Baatz has crafted a book that reads more like a novel than a historical tome. Peppered with historical photos and with prose that paints a wonderful picture of New York City at the dawn of the 20th century, The Girl on the Velvet Swing brings the characters to life again."—Under the Radar
  • "Readers will appreciate Baatz's exciting, novel-like approach, and those interested in early twentieth-century law especially will enjoy the courtroom scenes."—Booklist
  • "Simon Baatz has written a wickedly enjoyable book that enthralled me from start to finish. This multifaceted tale, rendered with an expert's touch, encompasses the aspirations and vices of an entire era."—Laurence Bergreen, author of Capone
  • "Simon Baatz, the absolute master of the true crime genre, has written another page-turner. This book has everything, bad behavior in high places, a spectacularly public murder, courtroom drama, a daring escape, even a mother-in-law from hell. It reads like fiction, but it's all real. A wonderful book."—John Steele Gordon, author of An Empire of Wealth
  • "Simon Baatz takes readers on the strange and sensational legal odyssey of Harry Thaw, the Pittsburgh millionaire who murdered famed architect Stanford White in 1906. . . Baatz offers a detailed and assiduously researched account of the shocking crime and its aftermath, with a focus on the legal wrangling that dominated two trials."—Paula Uruburu, author of American Eve
  • "In his absorbing, well-written, and meticulously researched account of the murder of Stanford White, Simon Baatz delves deeper than ever before into the event's judicial, popular, and psychiatric dimensions and ramifications."—Mike Wallace, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Gotham
  • "The Girl on the Velvet Swing is a must-read, a book that is ceaselessly engaging, one surprise following another, even to the author's final assessment of Stanford White and his relationship to Evelyn Nesbit."—Leland Roth, author of American Architecture and the critical study "McKim, Mead & White"

On Sale
Jan 16, 2018
Page Count
400 pages
Mulholland Books

Simon Baatz

About the Author

Simon Baatz is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning historian. He has graduate degrees in history from the University of Pennsylvania and Imperial College London, and he currently teaches United States history and American legal history at John Jay College, City University of New York. Simon grew up in London and has lived in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Learn more about this author