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Shelby Foote
Shelby Foote.jpg
Born Shelby Dade Foote Jr.
(1916-11-17)November 17, 1916
Greenville, Mississippi, United States
Died June 27, 2005(2005-06-27) (aged 88)
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Occupation novelist, historian
Notable works The Civil War: A Narrative
Tess Lavery
(m. 1944; div. 1946)

Marguerite "Peggy" Desommes
(m. 1948; div. 1952)

Gwyn Rainer
(m. 1956)
Children 2

Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. (November 17, 1916 – June 27, 2005) was an American historian and writer. He was an important person for Civil War documentaries. He wrote many books about the war and Abraham Lincoln. His most famous book about the war was The Civil War: A Narrative.

Early life

Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. was born on November 17, 1916 in Greenville, Mississippi. He studied at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Foote is of Jewish descent, but he was raised as an Episcopalian.


Foote began writing a three volume, 3000-page history, together called The Civil War: A Narrative. The separate volumes are Fort Sumter to Perryville (1958), Fredericksburg to Meridian (1963), and Red River to Appomattox (1974).

When The Civil War by Ken Burns was first broadcast, his telephone number was publicly listed. and He received many phone calls from people who had seen him on television. Foote never unlisted his number, and the volume of calls increased each time the series re-aired.

Personal life

He was married to Tess Lavery from 1944 until they divorced in 1946. Then he was married to Marguerite "Peggy" Desommes from 1948 until they divorced in 1952. They had one child. Then he was married to Gwyn Rainer from 1956 until his death in 2005. They had one child.


Foote died on June 27, 2005 at a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee from heart failure caused by a heart attack and pulmonary embolism. He was 88 years old. Foote is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.

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