Leading Ladies

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 3:22pm -- baglio

This reading list will celebrate something that should be admired and discussed daily; Women's History. Our world is full of leading ladies, from the beginning of time to today. Their history deserves to be read and enjoyed as anyone else's. This reading list crosses a broad spectrum of leading ladies, from one of the most well known names, to a simple woman who kept a diary in the early years of American colonization. Please celebrate Women's History Month by reading up on one of these leading ladies. 

This website is a great addendum to the reading list, and is beautifully designed:

https://womenshistorymonth.gov/

 

Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age

By, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart

When Consuelo Vanderbilt's grandfather died, he was the richest man in America. Her father soon started to spend the family fortune, enthusiastically supported by Consuelo's mother, Alva, who was determined to take the family to the top of New York society—forcing a heartbroken Consuelo into a marriage she did not want with the underfunded Duke of Marlborough. But the story of Consuelo and Alva is more than a tale of enterprising social ambition, Gilded Age glamour, and the emptiness of wealth. It is a fascinating account of two extraordinary women who struggled to break free from the world into which they were born—a world of materialistic concerns and shallow elitism in which females were voiceless and powerless—and of their lifelong dedication to noble and dangerous causes and the battle for women's rights.

 

The Keeper of Lime Rock : the Remarkable True Story of Ida Lewis, America's Most Celebrated Lighthouse Keeper

By, Lenore Skomal

The first woman to be awarded the American Cross of Honor for her heroic effort in saving lives, the 103-pound Lewis (1849-1911) repeatedly braved the waters to rescue the unfortunate souls 18 in all, plus one sheep who foundered off Narragansett Harbor, where her family kept the lighthouse. Connecticut Post columnist Skomal (Heroes) offers an intelligent and concise biography of the pioneering woman, whose work was commended by Ulysses S. Grant and Susan B. Anthony, among others. The lighthouse-keeping post was officially her father's, but after suffering a stroke he relinquished most of the duties to his wife, son and especially his daughter, whose rescues were widely reported across the country, making her a bona fide celebrity and drawing curious tourists to the lighthouse. The locals in her hometown celebrated Ida Lewis Day instead of Independence Day, much to the shy girl's chagrin. Filled with fascinating stories of Lewis's rescues, the book also places her work in historical context, focusing especially on the burgeoning women's rights movement that held up Lewis's work as an example of women's superior abilities. For her part, Lewis shied away from any comparisons between the genders and was ambivalent about the movement and the well-publicized visit she received from Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The book will appeal to readers who enjoy a good sea story as well as those who simply want to read about an unusual and brave woman. 

 

A WOMAN IN CHARGE: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton

By, Carl Bernstein

The nuanced, definitive biography of one of the most controversial and widely misunderstood figures of our time: the woman running a historic campaign as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee—Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

Drawing on hundreds of interviews with colleagues and friends and with unique access to campaign records, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Carl Bernstein has given us a book that enables us, at last, to address the questions Americans are insistently—even obsessively—asking: Who is she? What is her character? What is her political philosophy? And, what can we expect from Hillary if we elect her President of the United States?

 

Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment

By, Eleanor Clift

After seventy-two arduous years, the fate of the suffrage movement and its masterwork, the Nineteenth Amendment, rested not only on one state, Tennessee, but on the shoulders of a single man: twenty-four-year-old legislator Harry Burn. Burn had previously voted with the antisuffrage forces. If he did so again, the vote would be tied and the amendment would fall one state short of the thirty-six necessary for ratification. At the last minute, though, Harry Burn’s mother convinced him to vote in favor of the suffragist, and American history was forever changed.

In this riveting account, political analyst Eleanor Clift chronicles the many thrilling twists and turns of the suffrage struggle and shows how the issues and arguments that surrounded the movement still reverberate today. Beginning with the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention of 1848, Clift introduces the movement’s leaders, recounts the marches and demonstrations, and profiles the opposition–antisuffragists, both men and women, who would do anything to stop women from getting the vote.

 

Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words

By, Lynn Sherr

Juxtaposed with contemporary reports and biographical essays, the words of this legendary suffragist reveal Susan B. Anthony as a loyal, caring friend, and an eloquent, humorous crusader. "More than a collection of well-arranged quotations, the work informs, inspires, and gives historical perspective."

 

Sara and Eleanor: The Story of Sara Delano Roosevelt and Her Daughter-in-Law, Eleanor Roosevelt 

By, Jan Pottker

 We think we know the story of Eleanor Roosevelt--the shy, awkward girl who would redefine the role of First Lady, becoming a civil rights activist and an inspiration to generations of young women. As legend has it, the bane of Eleanor's life was her demanding and domineering mother-in-law, Sara Delano Roosevelt. Biographers have overlooked the complexity of a relationship that had, over the years, been reinterpreted and embellished by Eleanor herself.

Through diaries, letters, and interviews with Roosevelt family and friends, Jan Pottker uncovers a story never before told. The result is a triumphant blend of social history and psychological insight--a revealing look at Eleanor Roosevelt and the woman who made her historic achievements possible.

 

Founding Mothers and the Women Who Raised our Nation

By, Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts's number one New York Times bestseller, We Are Our Mothers' Daughters, examined the nature of women's roles throughout history and led USA Today to praise her as a "custodian of time-honored values." Her second bestseller, From This Day Forward, written with her husband, Steve Roberts, described American marriages throughout history, including the romance of John and Abigail Adams. Now Roberts returns with Founding Mothers, an intimate and illuminating look at the fervently patriotic and passionate women whose tireless pursuits on behalf of their families -- and their country -- proved just as crucial to the forging of a new nation as the rebellion that established it. While much has been written about the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, battled the British, and framed the Constitution, the wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters they left behind have been little noticed by history. Roberts brings us the women who fought the Revolution as valiantly as the men, often defending their very doorsteps. While the men went off to war or to Congress, the women managed their businesses, raised their children, provided them with political advice, and made it possible for the men to do what they did. The behind-the-scenes influence of these women -- and their sometimes very public activities -- was intelligent and pervasive. Drawing upon personal correspondence, private journals, and even favored recipes, Roberts reveals the often surprising stories of these fascinating women, bringing to life the everyday trials and extraordinary triumphs of individuals like Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Read Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Catherine Littlefield Green, Esther DeBerdt Reed, and Martha Washington -- proving that without our exemplary women, the new country might never have survived. Social history at its best, Founding Mothers unveils the drive, determination, creative insight, and passion of the other patriots, the women who raised our nation. Roberts proves beyond a doubt that like every generation of American women that has followed, the founding mothers used the unique gifts of their gender -- courage, pluck, sadness, joy, energy, grace, sensitivity, and humor -- to do what women do best, put one foot in front of the other in remarkable circumstances and carry on.


The Woman Who Smashed Codes 

By, Jason Fagone

Joining the ranks of Hidden Figures and In the Garden of Beasts, the incredible true story of the greatest codebreaking duo that ever lived, an American woman and her husband who invented the modern science of cryptology together and used it to confront the evils of their time, solving puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win World War II.

In 1916, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the U.S. government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code-breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the "Adam and Eve" of the NSA, Elizebeth’s story, incredibly, has never been told.

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation’s history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler’s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Fagone unveils America’s code-breaking history through the prism of Smith’s life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence. Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson’s bestsellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is page-turning popular history at its finest.

 

Wallis in Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, the Woman Who Changed the Monarchy

By, Andrew Morton

Before she became known as the woman who enticed a king from his throne and birthright, Bessie Wallis Warfield was a prudish and particular girl from Baltimore. At turns imaginative, ambitious, and spoiled, Wallis's first words as recalled by her family were "me, me." From that young age, she was in want of nothing but stability, status, and social acceptance as she fought to climb the social ladder and take her place in London society. As irony would have it, she would gain the love and devotion of a king, but only at the cost of his throne and her reputation.

In WALLIS IN LOVE, acclaimed biographer Andrew Morton offers a fresh portrait of Wallis Simpson in all her vibrancy and brazenness as she transformed from a hard-nosed gold-digger to charming chatelaine. Using diary entries, letters, and other never-before-seen records, Morton takes us through Wallis's romantic adventures in Washington, China, and her entrance into the strange wonderland that is London society. During her journey, we meet an extraordinary array of characters, many of whom smoothed the way for her dalliance with the king of England, Edward VIII.

WALLIS IN LOVE goes beyond Wallis's infamous persona and reveals a complex, domineering woman striving to determine her own fate and grapple with matters of the heart.

 

Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire

By, Julia Baird

When Victoria was born, in 1819, the world was a very different place. Revolution would threaten many of Europe’s monarchies in the coming decades. In Britain, a generation of royals had indulged their whims at the public’s expense, and republican sentiment was growing. The Industrial Revolution was transforming the landscape, and the British Empire was commanding ever larger tracts of the globe. In a world where women were often powerless, during a century roiling with change, Victoria went on to rule the most powerful country on earth with a decisive hand.

Fifth in line to the throne at the time of her birth, Victoria was an ordinary woman thrust into an extraordinary role. As a girl, she defied her mother’s meddling and an adviser’s bullying, forging an iron will of her own. As a teenage queen, she eagerly grasped the crown and relished the freedom it brought her. At twenty, she fell passionately in love with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, eventually giving birth to nine children. She loved sex and delighted in power. She was outspoken with her ministers, overstepping conventional boundaries and asserting her opinions. After the death of her adored Albert, she began a controversial, intimate relationship with her servant John Brown. She survived eight assassination attempts over the course of her lifetime. And as science, technology, and democracy were dramatically reshaping the world, Victoria was a symbol of steadfastness and security—queen of a quarter of the world’s population at the height of the British Empire’s reach.

Drawing on sources that include fresh revelations about Victoria’s relationship with John Brown, Julia Baird brings vividly to life the fascinating story of a woman who struggled with so many of the things we do today: balancing work and family, raising children, navigating marital strife, losing parents, combating anxiety and self-doubt, finding an identity, searching for meaning.

 
 
By, Alyssa Lozupone
 
Today, Newport is renowned as one of the most historically significant and architecturally intact cities in America. In the years following World War II, this heritage was under siege; the city’s rich collection of colonial buildings and Gilded Age mansions was threatened by demolition and redevelopment. Katherine Warren, California-born and New Orleans–bred, intervened by galvanizing her adopted community around the protection of its architectural heritage and, in doing so, contributed greatly to the city’s revitalization. Warren’s passion for preservation was complemented by an equally fervent interest in modernist art; her collection of works by such artists as Picasso and Mondrian rivaled that of the nation’s leading patrons of twentieth-century art. Warren’s story stretches far beyond her pivotal role in founding and leading The Preservation Society of Newport County; her pursuit of community engagement, creative adaptive uses for historic structures, and economic development through preservation proved avant-garde, earning Newport national recognition and revealing Warren as a thought leader in preservation nationwide.
 
 
By, Michelle Marchetti Coughlin
 
This book reconstructs the life of Mehetabel Chandler Coit (1673–1758), the author of what may be the earliest surviving diary by an American woman. A native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, who later moved to Connecticut, she began her diary at the age of fifteen and kept it intermittently until she was well into her seventies. A previously overlooked resource, the diary contains entries on a broad range of topics as well as poems, recipes, folk and herbal medical remedies, religious meditations, and financial accounts. An extensive collection of letters by Coit and her female relatives has also survived, shedding further light on her experiences. 
Michelle Marchetti Coughlin combs through these writings to create a vivid portrait of a colonial American woman and the world she inhabited. Coughlin documents the activities of daily life as well as dramas occasioned by war, epidemics, and political upheaval. Though Coit's opportunities were circumscribed by gender norms of the day, she led a rich and varied life, not only running a household and raising a family, but reading, writing, traveling, transacting business, and maintaining a widespread network of social and commercial connections. She also took a lively interest in the world around her and played an active role in her community. 
Coit's long life covered an eventful period in American history, and this book explores the numerous―and sometimes surprising―ways in which her personal history was linked to broader social and political developments. It also provides insight into the lives of countless other colonial American women whose history remains largely untold.
 
 
By, Linda Wagner-Martin
 
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was born at the dawn of the twentieth century, destined for celebrity as one half of the infamous darlings of the Jazz Age literary world. 
A southern belle from Montgomery, Alabama, Fitzgerald epitomized the “New Woman” of the modern era in New York and Paris, all the while living on the edge of a nervous breakdown. 
Linda Wagner-Martin has created a cultural biography, told from Zelda’s perspective instead of from her famous spouse, F Scott Fitzgerald. 
Using previously neglected information from the Princeton archives, Wagner-Martin vividly illustrates Zelda’s psychological landscape, from the roots of her alcoholism to her enviable artistic gifts and achievements: novels, essays, short stories, ballet and even painting. 
This is a riveting and provocative portrayal of a talented woman’s professional and emotional conflicts, as relevant today as half a century ago.
 
 
By, Donna M. Lucey
 
In this seductive, multilayered biography, based on original letters and diaries, Donna M. Lucey illuminates four extraordinary women painted by the iconic high-society portraitist John Singer Sargent. With uncanny intuition, Sargent hinted at the mysteries and passions that unfolded in his subjects’ lives.
Elsie Palmer traveled between her father’s Rocky Mountain castle and the medieval English manor house where her mother took refuge, surrounded by artists, writers, and actors. Elsie hid labyrinthine passions, including her love for a man who would betray her. As the veiled Sally Fairchild―beautiful and commanding―emerged on Sargent’s canvas, the power of his artistry lured her sister, Lucia, into a Bohemian life. The saintly Elizabeth Chanler embarked on a surreptitious love affair with her best friend’s husband. And the iron-willed Isabella Stewart Gardner scandalized Boston society and became Sargent’s greatest patron and friend.
Like characters in an Edith Wharton novel, these women challenged society’s restrictions, risking public shame and ostracism. All had forbidden love affairs; Lucia bravely supported her family despite illness, while Elsie explored Spiritualism, defying her overbearing father. Finally, the headstrong Isabella outmaneuvered the richest plutocrats on the planet to create her own magnificent art museum.
These compelling stories of female courage connect our past with our present―and remind us that while women live differently now, they still face obstacles to attaining full equality.
8 pages of color illustrations