You have to remember, he reminded me, that Harvard is older than the U.S. government. You have to remember because Harvard doesn't let you forget. 1969- the height of counterculture and the year universities would seek to curb the unruly spectacle of student protest; the winter that Harvard University would begin the tumultuous process of merging with Radcliffe, its all-female sister school; and the year that Jane Britton, an ambitious 23-year-old graduate student in Harvard's Anthropology Department and daughter of Radcliffe Vice President J. Boyd Britton, would be found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment.Forty years later, Becky Cooper, a curious undergrad, will hear the first whispers of the story. In the first telling the body was nameless. The story was this- a Harvard student had had an affair with her professor, and the professor had murdered her in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology because she'd threatened to talk about the affair. Though the rumour proves false, the story that unfolds, one that Cooper will follow for ten years, is even more complex- a tale of gender inequality in academia, a 'cowboy culture' among empowered male elites, the silencing effect of institutions, and our compulsion to rewrite the stories of female victims.WE KEEP THE DEAD CLOSE is a memoir of mirrors, misogyny and murder. It is at once a rumination on the violence and oppression that rules our revered institutions, a ghost story reflecting one young woman's past onto another's present, and a love story for a girl who was lost to history.
Becky Cooper is a former New Yorker writer, assistant to David Remnick, Adam Gopnik and D.T. Max, producer for the New Yorker Radio Hour . Currently, she is artist-in-residence at Harvard University, as well as Senior Fellow at Brandeis's Schuster Institute for Investigative Reporting. Her undergraduate thesis, a literary biography of David Foster Wallace, won Harvard's Hoopes Prize, the highest undergraduate award for research and writing. In 2013, she published Mapping Manhattan- A Love and Sometimes Hate Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers (Abrams), which is currently in its fifth printing.