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More recently, Walker’s monumental joie de vivre inspired author Ben Neihart, whose new book, "Rough Amusements," a short fictional work in Bloomsbury’s Urban Historical series, mingles fact with speculation and merges Walker’s story with that of Jennie June, a tragic drag queen who penned her memoirs during the era. Neihart details one night in 1930 that might have been with Walker and her dandyish friends joining June at a raucous Harlem drag ball.
"A combination of tangents lead me to A’Lelia Walker," says Neihart. "I had been approached about writing a book that explored the city’s sexual underworld and I made her the protagonist for that exploration. She touched that world, but wasn’t a part of it."
Hughes wrote of waking at Walker’s Westchester estate to the sound of her massive pipe organ, which was played progressively louder until guests were lulled from sleep in the most gentle way, but Neihart also sought out some of Walker’s telegrams and letters and spent his time at the New York Library reading through seven years of uncataloged issues of the Interstate Tattler.
"Walker was a regular feature in the gossip columns. There was a lot of testimony of her love of the best champagne," he says. "She would have been a very good friend to Bridget Jones."
Of course, A’Lelia Bundles, the diva’s great-granddaughter and the author of the critically acclaimed biography, "On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker," sees things differently.