Captive of the Labyrinth and the movie, Winchester

The New York Times’ review of the new movie, Winchester, includes an interview with University of Missouri Press author Mary Jo Ignoffo on her book, Captive of the IgnoffoLabyrinth: Sarah L. Winchester, Heiress to the Rifle Fortune in which she discusses her research on Sarah Winchester and the ways that research differs from the horror movie.

The stairs to the ceiling and the doors that lead nowhere? The result of earthquake damage left unrepaired after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. All those rooms? A reflection of Ms. Winchester’s interest in architecture and interior design — she came from a long line of woodworkers — not her belief in spiritualists or the supernatural.”

Even though the film and book have different perspectives on the story, one focusing on the myths that surround Winchester and one focusing on the facts, there is one thing they do agree on, as the review points out:

“While the film and the biography couldn’t be less alike, both reach similar conclusions about Ms. Winchester: She was considerably more heroic, and considerably less nuts, than she has sometimes been painted. In Ms. Ignoffo’s book, Ms. Winchester is a savvy businesswoman; a beloved employer; and a generous sister, aunt and philanthropist. In “Winchester,” she’s a tough heroine out to protect her family and home from evil spirits and greedy company executives alike.”

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