Meet the Marlands

Lydie and E.W. Marland

Lydie and E.W. Marland

Ernest Whitworth Marland was the world's richest independent oilman; Marland Oil's holdings spanned one-tenth of the world's oil reserves. He used his wealth to commission an architectural marvel, the Marland Mansion in Ponca City. A man of towering ambition, E.W. longed to be richer than Rockefeller, and he tried to make his company bigger than Standard Oil.

He and his wife, Virginia, were childless, so they adopted her nephew, George, and her niece, Lydie Roberts. After Virginia died in 1926, Lydie became the center of his whirlwind life. When E.W., married Lydie, the scandal shocked America. Their relationship was the love story of the Roaring Twenties, and the extraordinary tragedy of the Uptight Forties.

In Gary Robert Pinnell's compelling, soon-to-be-published book, The Madness of E.W. and Lydie Marland, their captivating saga is recounted with a previously unseen level of detail and intimacy. Drawing from a treasure trove of newly discovered, unpublished letters, Pinnell delves into the turbulent undercurrents of the Marlands' lives, offering fresh insights into their notorious relationship, their dramatic rise and fall, and their tumultuous navigation through the 1929 stock market crash.

But more than just an historical recounting, this nonfiction biography journeys into desire, and the tragic consequences of broken taboos. The Marland saga unravels the impact of societal norms and pressures, examines the price of unbridled ambition, and follows the heartbreaking decisions of Oklahoma's beautiful first lady, who declines into a destitute street person. As readers traverse the emotional landscapes of E.W. and Lydie Marland's lives, they witness the seismic shifts between the liberal 1920s and the brutally stigmatized and misunderstood mental health climate.

The Madness of E.W. and Lydie Marland explores a period of the 20th century that still resonates today and leaves readers spellbound. It is a captivating read for history aficionados, biography lovers, and readers of intriguing tales well told.

Fame, Fortune, and Scandal

A Tale of Ambition, Love, and a Stunning Downfall

Dive into the captivating and complex story of Ernest Whitworth Marland, the oil magnate, and his adopted daughter turned wife, Lydie, in Gary Robert Pinnell's engrossing new book, The Madness of E.W. and Lydie Marland.

From humble beginnings in 1908, E.W.'s fortunes took a thrilling turn when he struck oil in 1911. His empire expanded and, within a decade, Marland Oil commanded one-tenth of the world's oil reserves. However, his ambition led him to excess and reckless financial decisions, constructing lavish homes and spending extravagantly on personal indulgences.

His personal life took an equally unconventional path. Following the death of his wife, rumors swirled about the unusually close relationship between E.W. and Lydie, culminating in their scandalous marriage. The press uproar about their union, the disapproval of family and friends, and a possible case of post partum depression began Lydie's own turbulent mental health journey into a New York City hospital and an Atlantic City asylum.

It was madness to borrow money from and to sell stock to corporate pirate J.P. Morgan Jr., who took over Marland Oil within five years and merged it with Continental Oil Company. The next year, E.W. lost the rest of his fortune in the stock market crash of 1929. But in the face of financial ruin, E.W. pivoted to politics, secured a seat in Congress, and was elected Oklahoma's 10th governor, despite his scandalous past.

However, personal tragedy followed closely behind his public success. Lydie's voice emerges from newly discovered letters to an intimate childhood friend, revealing struggles with relative poverty, her marriage, and a friend she called Casanova.

The final years of the Marlands were marked by financial and emotional hardships. After E.W.'s death, Lydie's life took a dramatic turn. From socialite to recluse, she descended into solitude, disappeared for 22 years, and became the subject of a search that captivated the nation.

After more than two decades, Oklahoma's most beautiful first lady resurfaces as a homeless bag lady in Washington, D.C. Despite her tragic end, her legacy lives on in Ponca City, a testament to the enduring impact of her life.

The Madness of E.W. and Lydie Marland is a deep investigation into wealth and power, love and loss. It reveals the human side of a scandal, the true cost of ambition and desire, and paints an unforgettable portrait of two of Oklahoma's most intriguing figures.


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