Dramaturg’s Program Notes: Questions on Context?

What has kept the world’s interest in the mysteries surrounding the Lindbergh kidnapping for over seventy-five years? The crime of the century, even after the trial and conviction of Bruno Richard Hauptmann— the supposed lone actor in the notorious kidnapping— remains in the spotlight still today. Many experts and laypersons alike still actively debate the circumstances surrounding that blustery March night in 1932. Violet Sharp provides an opportunity to explore the kidnapping through new lens— that of a Lindbergh family domestic servant.

The life of Violet Sharp was one of domestic service. Her family was from a small country town called Bradfield, England. She and her sister came to America to find work. Just days after arriving in New York, the high-spirited and outgoing Violet secured a place with one of the richest families in the country, the Morrows. The daughter of her employer happened to be Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the young and vibrant wife of the national hero, Colonel Charles Lindbergh.

Lindbergh was the first person to ever fly across the Atlantic Ocean, non-stop, and after this 1927 feat, America— and the rest of the world— embraced him. He was a much needed hero in those shaky times, a picture of the American dream ascended from the lowly position of college-dropout, daredevil stunt pilot to Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year.”

Sadly, Lindbergh’s fame and success would bring a terrible burden to his family when his first born son, Charles Jr., was kidnapped from the Lindbergh’s weekend home in Hopewell, New Jersey. Perhaps more than any previous trial, the media “sensationalized the tragedy.” Just hours after the kidnapping, the press— both reporters and photographers as well as hoards of “curious onlookers”— swarmed the Lindbergh estate. The Lindbergh and Morrow families, their employees, and the police were constantly hounded by media coverage and speculation.

In the midst of the madness, Colonel Schwarzkopf, the head of the New Jersey State Police, was running out of time to solve the crime— each day the reporters were bringing his career closer to ruin. The media was forcing Schwarzkopf to chase down every lead in a state-wide effort that was costing the government a small fortune.

Out of this unprecedented frenzy comes the little known story of a “carefree” serving girl, Violet Sharp.


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