The Silver Swan: In Search of Doris Duke

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By Sallie Bingham.

Inspired by the unique swan centerpiece at Rough Point Museum, Sallie Bingham’s biography explores the life and legacy of heiress, philanthropist, and preservationist Doris Duke.

In 2012, when eight hundred linear feet of her personal papers were made available, Bingham set out to better understand Doris Duke. She found an alluring woman whose life was forged in the Jazz Age, who was not only an early war correspondent but also an environmentalist, a surfer, a collector of Islamic art, a savvy businesswoman who tripled her father’s fortune, and a major philanthropist with wide-ranging passions from dance to historic preservation to human rights.

While Doris was a private woman—and there is a lot about her that is unknowable—we think that this book introduces Doris as a privileged, generous, complex, and inspiring person.


"Men who inherit great wealth are respected, but women who do the same are ridiculed. In The Silver Swan, Sallie Bingham rescues Doris Duke from this gendered prison and shows us just how brave, rebellious, and creative this unique woman really was, and how her generosity benefits us to this day.” —Gloria Steinem, Activist & Journalist

336 pages


Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2020). ISBN: 9781250787330