Selby returns to native W.Va. to discuss Lincoln

May 18, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - David Selby can't seem to get Abraham Lincoln out of his mind.

After writing a play in the late 1990s in which Lincoln comes to life and has a conversation with a black Vietnam veteran that works at the Lincoln Memorial, Selby has tweaked and expanded the story into a novel, "Lincoln's Better Angel."

Selby, 66, will discuss the book Thursday at Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library.

Selby is an author, poet, playwright and actor whose TV credits include "Dark Shadows" in the late 1960s and early 1970s and "Falcon Crest" in the 1980s. More recently, he was in the HBO series "Tell Me You Love Me," which was named one of the best TV programs of 2007 by the American Film Institute.

The Morgantown, W.Va., native was invited to speak this week at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College's graduation Friday at Musselman High School's auditorium.


Selby has visited Martinsburg occasionally to see friends and help out with various activities. He performed in "Love Letters" at Apollo Civic Theatre in 2003 and also portrayed Lincoln in his own play there.

"I'm a big fan of the history there and what they've tried to preserve," he said, mentioning the downtown area and the Apollo. He also likes to visit Antietam National Battlefield in nearby Sharpsburg.

While in Berkeley County this week, he will speak to the Rotary Club of Martinsburg and visit the library to talk about his novel that was released in November.

Ah, Lincoln.

During a recent visit to his childhood home, Selby went through some old school papers from his youth and encountered a ninth-grade scrapbook in which he had pasted a copy of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

"I thought there really is a circle to this thing," Selby says during a recent phone interview from his home in Los Osos, Calif. "We forget the relevance of (the Gettysburg Address) in our lives today."

The Gettysburg Address plays a large role in Selby's latest book, which is about race. The black veteran and Lincoln discuss race, their personal hardships and war, to which the veteran lost his son.

"These things I think Lincoln was talking about we're still struggling and fighting to obtain," he says.

While not saying whom he supports in the presidential election, Selby says he cannot help but think Lincoln would be pleased that Barack Obama is running for president. Obama, who has a mixed-race heritage, is an Illinois senator. Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for a Senate seat to represent Illinois.

Selby says he's done with the story of Lincoln and the veteran, but then added he might take the play version to the stage again. And he's still toying with adapting it for film.

"I'm not done with it. Probably never," he admits.

If you go ...

WHAT: Actor, author, playwright and poet David Selby will discuss and autograph his recent novel, "Lincoln's Better Angel."

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 22

WHERE: Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library, 101 W. King St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

COST: Free

MORE: For more information, call Bill Lucht at 304-260-4380 or call the library at 304-267-8933.

"Lincoln's Better Angel" was available this past week at for $18.96 and at for $24.95.

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