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Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Long-Lasting 'Gift'

Anne Morrow Lindbergh photographed at home in Darien, Conn., in 1956.
Leonard McCombe
Time-Life Pictures/Getty Images
Anne Morrow Lindbergh photographed at home in Darien, Conn., in 1956.

Writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the daughter of a respected U.S. diplomat, was vaulted into celebrity by her marriage to aviator Charles Lindbergh. The couple's travels in the early days of globe-trotting aviation drew breathless and often relentless attention from the media.

Putting her literary talents on display before an adoring public, Anne Lindbergh also produced a list of best-selling books.

Yet marriage to a vivid figure was not easy. The spotlight made Anne Lindbergh uneasy even before the 1932 kidnapping and murder of her first-born son. The infant was missing for more than two months, amid a hail of ransom notes, before his body was discovered near the couple's New Jersey home.

Newspapers covered the case as "the crime of the century" and were equally omnipresent at the 1935 trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was executed for the murder in 1936.

As World War II approached, coverage of the Lindberghs took another turn, as Charles Lindbergh offered generally admiring reports on Nazi Germany's development of the airplane. As the full import of Hitler's designs became clear, critics decried Lindbergh as a Nazi apologist.

On Florida's Captiva Island, Anne Lindbergh enjoyed a brief respite from the obligations of family and career. There, using the shells on the beach for inspiration, she reflected on the life of the American woman in the middle of the 20th century.

Anne Lindbergh died in 2001. Reeve Lindbergh, the couple's youngest child, talks with Debbie Elliott about what may be her mother's best-loved book: Gift from the Sea.

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NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.