A collection of biographies and autobiographies about women with strong, unique characters who followed their own inclinations and dreams.
Deborah Vivien Freeman-Mitford, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire takes us into the world of running one of England's most well-known stately homes, Chatsworth. Without any formal education but a keen business sense, she tranformed the house and grounds into a beautiful and profitable tourist sight.
This is a particularly charming and funny interview with the Duchess at the Frick Collection.
A brilliantly researched and beautifully written biography of the talented actress who fought the studio system and paid the price of stardom deferred. This book transcends most film biographies because of the exhaustive study of Ms. Dvorak’s personal and public life that unfolds in Christina Rice’s polished prose full of real affection for the subject. A must read for those interested in the star system and the life of one of Hollywood’s leading ladies who paid the price for being truly independent.
Hellé Nice was a girl from the countryside who hit Paris with a bang as a nude model, dancer and cabaret performer, but when she caught the eye of Ettore Bugatti, car designer, she became the fastest race car driver on the track.
Muriel Siebert was known as the first woman of finance, and this was not in the nineteenth century but the twentieth: the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock exchange; the first woman to head one of the New York Stock Exchange's member firms; the first woman Superintendent of Banking for the state of New York. In this autobiography she is candid, tough, and humorous about her own life and many of the people she worked with in the financial and political world.
Irish novelist, short story writer, and literary grande dame, Edna O'Brien looks back on her life. She is unsparing and unsentimental in reminscences about convent schooling, marriages, divorces, the wild sixties in London, the brouhaha, banning and burning of her first novel Country Girls which later became a modern classic. O'Brien may have been born in the country but she had precociously sophisticated yearnings which became realities.
Off-beat, elegant and original in dress, manner and speech, but with a very keen eye for new talent, Diana Vreeland was editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine during the 1960s and resuscitated its image and sales.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis were three American women who, in their youth, spent time studying and living in Paris Living in France would sustain, nourish, and confirm a sense of independence and uniqueness in each of their lives.
The very private writer Elena Ferrante presents one aspect of her life, as a writer. She does so in bits and pieces which is what frantumaglia means in Neapolitan dialect. In the current world with the need to know everything about everyone, there was conjecture about her true identity. As for this reader--I want more exceptional novels from Elena Ferrante, whoever she may be.
World War II opened up jobs for women and minorities, and for Mexican American women the opportunities caused a type of revolution in their personal lives, shaking up traditional customs and ideas about women going out into the world unprotected.
This is a series of vignettes about female scientists who deserve more recognition than they have received, but is not a recitation of wrongs. Rather, it shows 52 unique, indomitable, free spirits and free-thinkers who were moved to overcome any obstacle because they loved what they did, and they wanted to know more.
Not just another pretty actress, at one point she was called, “The most beautiful woman in the world.” Lamarr also had a brain and it was for the scientific and technical. She and composer George Antheil worked on a radio-controlled spread-spectrum communications system that included frequency hopping which later would prove important in cell phones and GPS technology. With Antheil she shared The Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Crammed with photos from back in the day, Honky Tonk Girl recounts, in Loretta’s unmistakable voice, the stories behind some of her most celebrated songs, from 1960's “Honky Tonk Girl” to 2004’s Grammy-winning “Van Lear Rose.” Over the course of her 50-year career, Loretta has worked with everyone from Buck Owens and Tammy Wynette to Pavarotti and Jack White. If you love to get your Loretta on, you will enjoy every page.
A late-bloomer who did not find her true art until she was forty years old. Prior to that she was the object of affection for both Marcel Duchamp and Henri-Pierre Roche who based his novel, Jules and Jim, on this real-life ménage à trois. And Francois Truffaut based his film, Jules and Jim, on the novel.
Ida M. Tarbell was one of the leading muckrackers, later known as investigative journalists. Her book, The history of the Standard Oil Company, is frequently ranked as one of the most important books of twentieth century journalism.
Betty Harbreich is well known for her book Secrets of a fashion therapist: what you can learn behind the dressing room door which offers practical fashion advice for every woman, gleaned from her years of experience at Bergdorf Goodman as a personal fashion advisor. Snappy, direct and funny she recounts her life and how she came to be known as the first personal shopper--a name she does not like at all. She is in Bergdorf's every day before the doors open, walking and looking for clothes for her clients, but Harbreich does have her limits and boundaries, "The door of my office is where I draw the line. I'm not part of the package--I don't go home with the pants. . . There is a cutoff period to my involvement, but with me at least one gets an hour or two."
Lynsey Addario is a driven international photojournalist who has traveled to the world's hotspots to document and present life during conflicts, revolutions and wars. She is candid in her writing and her photography.
Jacqueline Cochran pulled herself out of abject poverty to become the top female competitive racing pilot in the 1930s, organized the WASPS during World War II, tested jet aircraft, became the first female pilot to break the sound barrier, and became the successful owner of her own cosmetics firm.
Kay Thompson seemed to know just about everybody there was to know from the 1930s on until her death in 1998. She was an actress, singer, coach, writer,cabaret performer,first-class eccentric, godmother to Liza Minnelli and the creator of the stories about Eloise, the precocious wild-child who lived at The Plaza in New York City.
Geobiologist Jahren has created a memoir of a life in “big science” that started with a life as the daughter of a community college science professor in Minnesota. She worked her way up through academia in a world that is not often welcoming to women, but persevered and got her own lab. Her life story is woven between stories about the lives of trees, the plants that are Jahren’s specialty and her passion.
Misty Copeland overcame the odds of a dysfunctional home, racism, and a late start with ballet lessons to became a star and soloist with American Ballet Theatre. No matter what the odds, obstacles or pain, in life and in ballet, her autobiography conveys her indomitable spirit and passion for dance.
Francoise Gilot was a talented young artist when she met Pablo Picasso who was forty years her senior. She spent ten years with him, had two children and was the only woman to leave him.
In unsurprisingly poetic prose, both beautiful and personal, Patti Smith recounts memories plucked from various adventures in her life, from visiting a South American prison with her husband Fred "Sonic" Smith, to surveying a Coney Island devastated by a storm, to holing up in a European hotel to binge-watch detective shows.
The name Chanel is iconic and eponymous for a fragrance and a jacket, both created by a woman from a poor, socially undesirable background. Based on new research, this book analyzes the woman and her achievements within the context of the historical periods in which she lived. Heartbroken by a first great love, she became completely absorbed and driven to succeed on her own merits, and nothing, definitely not an ethical code, stood in her way.
John Norris portrays the life of journalist Mary McGrory, who broke ground in the male-dominated newsrooms of the 1950s and 1960s, with her guts, gumption, calm observation, and detailed honest writing. She came from a working class Irish Catholic family that had a strong work ethic, which served her well. Without being salacious, Norris also writes about McGrory's personal and professional encounters with numerous well-known politicians. And with discerning insight documents the toll her career took on her personal life.
In this engaging memoir, explore one woman’s life and learn how she overcame barriers of poverty, race, and illness to achieve great success.
She was an unofficial, unpaid promoter of jazz musicians, in particular Thelonius Monk. Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild Later Koenigswarter was a decorated WWII hero, a mother and the wife of a diplomat, but left it all for the world of American jazz in the 1950s. Charlie Parker died in her elegant Stanhope Hotel apartment. Other musicians referred to her simply as the Baroness.
What happens when two Smith graduates decide to set off in 1916 for, what was then, the wild west of Colorado? Well, adventure, and a good deal more of it than either they or their families could imagine. Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood wrote to their families back in New York, and it is from those letters that Woodruff's granddaughter has created this hearty tale.
In a style that is both scholarly and thoroughly enjoyable, Gerrmaine Greer presents a history, from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century, of women painters and the difficulties they confronted while pursuing their passion for art.
Over 50 years ago, in her book The silent spring, Rachel Carson warned about the dangers of widespread use of pesticide. This recent biography examines the life of this quiet, dedicated scientist.
Tapert chose eleven actresses from Hollywood's golden period of the 1930's and 1940's and shows how each of them developed their own unique style outside of the movie studios' machines. She examines their lives and personalities and how each woman found what suited her best, but never at the expense of her image which embodied glamour. As Tapert says,"They had the ability to change the temperature of a room when they entered it. . ." and therefore had what was ". . . akin to glamour's original meaning: witchcraft." Also check out Tapert's other book, The power of style: the women who defined the art of living well.
An engrossing and enlightening multi-layered history of Czechoslovakia, the Albright family, and World War II, through the eyes of the Czech girl who grew up to be the first female Secretary of State. A must-read for World War II history buffs or anyone wanting to gain a clear understanding of the events and decisions that led to the war.
In her latest memoir, actress/writer Carrie Fisher reflects on her complicated relationship with Princess Leia, the character she first brought to life four decades ago in the original Star Wars film. Also discussed at length is the three-month affair she had with co-star Harrison Ford during the location shoot. Drawing from journals Fisher kept at the time, the memoir is at times a painful yet relatable chronicle of a 19-year-old who, despite being on the verge of international fame, is consumed with the raw emotions of unrequited young love.
This book delves into the culture of women who worked as “human computers” at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory during the 1940s, 1950s, and beyond. The author conducted hundreds of hours of first-person interviews, and went deep into the JPL and NASA archives. The book offers a personal take on the accomplishments of these women who worked in the gendered discrimination reality of the American workplace. Despite the obstacles these women created a collaborative support network in order to advance American space exploration.
No mud-slinging here. The senior Senator from the great state of Minnesota recalls, with heart and humor, the path she took to public service. With election season heating up, it’s nice to be reminded that some politicians can be genuinely nice people. She is from Minnesota, doncha know?
Guardian columnist and founder of the Feministing blog, Jessica Valenti has written five other books, but this one is far more personal. She recounts her life growing up in New York, learning early on that her female body was treated differently from men’s bodies. Sometimes shocking, sometimes rousing, this memoir really brings home the need to continue the fight to get women on an equal footing with men.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe is well-known as the godmother of rock 'n roll who mixed religious and secular styles which angered gospel singers in more conservative churches. In the 1920s she sang at The Cotton Club and Café Society. Despite the efforts of singers like Eric Clapton, B. B. King, and Johnny Cash, she has yet to be inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. Here are some examples of her style from YouTube:
"That's All!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?
"Precious Memories" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BnIiXYz8oo
Part hilarious memoir, part no-holds-barred apologia on fatness, this is a stand out in the abundance of new third-wave feminist nonfiction. Not one to beat around the bush, West calls out, by name, the much-loved journalist Dan Savage for his crusade against obese people, and a who’s who of edgy male stand-up comics for their insistence that rape jokes are funny and everything is fair game.
Christine Granville was beautiful, intelligent, rebellious, daring and courageous, and left behind a slew of admirers and lovers. Not a fictitious character in a spy novel, she was one of the most successful World War II spies who was awarded the George Medal, the OBE, and the Croix de Guerre. She died, not on the war front, but as the result of a brutal murder in 1952. This well-researched book reveals all aspects of her life and offers reasons why such a complete biography may have been thwarted in the past.
A true diva is a distinguished female opera singer who strives for the best in her own work and expects the same from everyone with whom she works in order to create a marvelous experience for an audience. Jessye Norman is the full embodiment of a diva on stage and off, always striving for the best in life and art.
On May 15, 2014, Jessye Norman was a guest at Aloud, and you can hear the podcast.
Jenni Rivera was strong, determined, talented and very smart. This is her autobiography told her way, as she did everything else, including damaging choices in men. She toughed it out to succeed in the male-dominated world of banda and norteño music to become an international sensation.
They may not make war journalists, male or female, to match the likes of Marie Colvin who was one of the greats and valued as such by her colleagues. Colvin was not a thrill seeker, but was driven by the need to see first-hand what took place in war zones: East Timor, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Libya and Syria.
Esmeralda Santiago was one of eleven children who grew up in a tin-can of a house in Puerto Rico, surrounded by quarreling parents and poverty. While living in Brooklyn with her grandmother, Santiago's ambition and hard work resulted in a Harvard education, and a successful career as a writer and film producer.
Brazilian novelist, short story writer, and journalist, Clarice Lispector is well known for her innovative style of writing. Born in the Ukraine in 1920, she was brought to Brazil after World War I. Beautiful and brainy, her life was peripatetic and turbulent. This biography is based upon years of reserach and brings attention to a major writer.
Shattered at age 26 by her mother's death and the end of her marriage, Strayed did something way out of the realm of her experience--she took a solo 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.
A collection of essays about women artists by art historian, scholar and professor, Linda Nochlin, whose writing is scholarly, provocative, and fascinating. These essays are from the past, but not at all dated, and in many ways are answers to another Nochlin essay, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" which also is included.