Novel looks at ‘The Traitor’s Wife’

Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut-born Benedict Arnold may be hands down the most infamous traitor in U.S. history. But what if it was his wife who was pulling the strings?

Allison Pataki, a Yale graduate and daughter of former New York Governor George Pataki is exploring the woman behind the man in her new novel.

“Everybody more or less knows the name Benedict Arnold and knows that he was this infamous traitor in history,” Pataki said. “But what a lot of people didn’t know was that his wife was actually involved in the plot and was most likely the person who convinced him to become a traitor.”

In Allison Pataki’s debut novel ‘The Traitor’s Wife,’ she introduces us to Peggy Shippen Arnold, the woman who nearly changed the course of our country’s history.

Allison Pataki

Allison Pataki

“I think it’s fascinating to see a woman mingling with the likes of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benedict Arnold, and really running her own show,” she said.

In conducting research for her work of historical fiction Allison was lured back to New Haven, a city in which she and the infamous traitor have a history.

Benedict had three sons with his first wife, Margaret, who is now buried in the crypt beneath the Center Church on the New Haven Green.

Grave of first Mrs. Benedict Arnold under Center Church on the Green in New Haven.

Grave of first Mrs. Benedict Arnold under Center Church on the Green in New Haven.

“It’s very cool that the first 30 years of his life were spent in Connecticut and specifically right here in New Haven,” Pataki said. “This is where he got his start as a patriot, as a member of the local Sons of Liberty.”

“We have a lot of hidden treasures here in New Haven and this is one of them,” said Harold Peck, a tour guide at the church.

The grave is one of many treasures Allison discovered in her quest to bring the story of the woman behind America’s traitor to life.

“I obviously have a very close connection to the city because I lived here for 4 years while I was in college,” she said, “and so to be able to come back here to the beginning of his story at the beginning of my story of publishing this book is very, very special.”

‘The Traitor’s Wife’ comes out Feb. 11. To learn more visit allisonpataki.com.

If you’re interested in taking the tour of that crypt visit newhavencenterchurch.org.

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