Book descriptions

Wilma Rudolph, Groundbreaking Athlete for the Ages — in Pages

Wilma Rudolph (1940 – 1994) was a groundbreaking American Olympic champion in the field of running. As the most visible and famed Black female athlete of time, she inspired generations who came after her. Running was her passion, and she became an icon in the civil rights and women’s rights movements as well.

Books about Wilma Rudolph continue to tell her story, most aimed at younger readers who draw inspiration from her remarkable life. Here, we’ll take a look at some of them, starting with her own 1977 autobiography, Wilma.

In this slim but action-packed volume she told the story of how she, a Black woman athlete facing many obstacles, won both in life and in the toughest sports competitions in the world. She has the distinction of being the first American ever to take home three gold medals from a single Olympics. Read More→


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The Field House by Robin Clifford Wood — Rediscovering Rachel Field

A compelling blend of biography and memoir, The Field House: A Writer’s Life Lost and Found on an Island in Maine by Robin Clifford Wood recounts the remarkable life of writer Rachel Field (1894 – 1942). It’s told from the perspective of Wood, a writer who lived in Field’s old, neglected island home in Maine, sparking a unique sisterhood across time.

Born of illustrious New England stock, Rachel Field was a National Book Award-winning novelist, a Newbery Medal-winning children’s writer, a poet, playwright, and rising Hollywood success in the early twentieth century. Her light was abruptly extinguished at the age of forty-seven, when she died at the pinnacle of her personal happiness and professional acclaim. Read More→


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The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë by Daphne du Maurier

The three Brontë sisters — Charlotte, Emily, and Anne — cherished literary ambitions from an early age, and despite lives cut short by illness, earned a prominent place in the English literary canon. The same can’t be said for their brother, Branwell Brontë (1817 – 1848), whose dissipated life ended at age thirty-one, with little to show for his early talent other than thwarted ambition.

The children of Maria Branwell Brontë and Reverend Patrick Brontë, the Brontë siblings grew up in Haworth, England, located in Yorkshire. Maria Branwell Brontë died while the children were still very young, and the two oldest sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of illness before reaching adolescence. Read More→


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6 Classic Early- to Mid-20th Century Lesbian Novels

Though the classic lesbian novels surveyed here – published from the early through mid-twentieth century – seemed truly groundbreaking in their time, they certainly weren’t the first of this genre of literature. From the poetry of Sappho to the secret diaries of Anne Lister to queer re-evaluations of many classic women authors, the books listed here had plenty of forerunners.

The difference? Though some were more forthright than others, there was less of the thinly veiled allusions, and more overt same-sex love and romance. Though by no means the only fine examples of the genre, the six novels presented here were hugely impactful. Read More→


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Forgotten Suffragists for Younger Readers: The Voice of Liberty by Angelica Shirley Carpenter

Matilda Joslyn Gage was born in 1826 in Cicero, New York, near Syracuse. The important role she played in the women’s suffrage movement has been marginalized, overshadowed by figures like Susan B. Anthony and Eliabeth Cady Stanton.

“All of the crimes which I was not guilty of rushed through my mind,” Gage wrote later, “but I failed to remember that I was a born criminal—a woman.” Her crime: registering to vote. The verdict: guilty as charged.

Angelica Shirley Carpenter has a new picture book out for grades 2 – 6: The Voice of Liberty, with illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham, published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press (2020). The book tells how three suffragists, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Lillie Devereux Blake, and Lillie’s daughter, Katherine “Katie” Devereux Blake, led a protest at the 1886 dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Read More→


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