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Dedman to discuss 'Empty Mansions' at library

Published 10:28 am, Wednesday, October 2, 2013
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In 2009, while searching the Internet for a property in Connecticut, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman went a bit off course and stumbled upon the subject for his book "Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune."

Dedman will speak about his book and the story behind it when he appears at New Canaan Library, 151 Main St., at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, in the Adrian Lamb Room. "Empty Mansions" is the story of heiress Huguette Clark and the 12,000-square-foot New Canaan mansion she never inhabited.

The event, part of the library's Authors on Stage series, is co-sponsored by the New Canaan Historical Society and Elm Street Books.

Written in collaboration with Huguette's cousin, Paul Clark Newell Jr., Dedman reveals much more than the story behind the mysterious French chateau-style mansion sitting abandoned on 52 acres.Through careful research, some of which was done through the New Canaan Historical Society, Dedman creates a multi-layered portrait of the mysterious Huguette Clark; her closest confidants, including her French boyfriend; and her complex family.

The daughter of self-made copper industrialist W.A. Clark, Huguette grew up surrounded by extraordinary wealth and privilege, in the splendor of a New York City mansion. A lover of art and music, bright and talented, Huguette, at an early age, began to secret herself away from the public eye. Though she was reclusive, she did keep contact with select family members and friends, and, despite owning palatial homes all over the country, Huguette spent more than 20 years living in one room in a New York hospital.

Dedman also details the legal battles for her fortune that her remaining extended family had been waging since her death.

Dedman is an investigative reporter for NBC. In 1989, he received the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting for his work for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He got his start in journalism at 16 as a copy boy at the Chattanooga Times, and has written for the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and The New York Times.

All library programs are freec but registration is required. To register or for information, visit newcanaanlibrary.org or call 203-594-5040.