Tag Archives: #FridayFeminism

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, poet plus

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a well renowned Victorian poet was born on March 6, 1806 in Durham, England, the eldest of 12 siblings, to a wealthy family. She is well known for many of her works, not the least of which being Sonnet 43, How do I love thee.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

At the age of twenty, she published the volume entitled An Essay on Mind, with Other Poems anonymously which led to her friendship with Hugh Stuart Boyd, a middle aged dilettante scholar, affording her access to extensive reading materials and friendship. Though it was in 1838 on the publication of The Seraphim and Other Poems that she established herself within literary circles.

Shortly after she suffered a series of health complications and personal tragedy that result in a hiatus from her writings for several years. When she eventually returned to life with her family and resumed her writing. In 1844 she contributed anonymously to A New Spirit of the Age, written in collaboration with the playwright Richard Hengist Horne.

Her works eventually found their way to Robert Browning and in January 1845 he began corresponding with her. Their courtship continued despite the objections of Elizabeth’s father and they were married in secret on September 12, 1846 at St Marylebone Parish Church.

During the early years of their marriage, her literary reputation far exceeded that of her husband’s and remained high throughout her life and after. A portrait of her was even hanging in the home of Emily Dickinson.

She passed away on June 29, 1861, leaving behind a legacy far too great for such a short piece. If you would like to know more about her, take your pick of sources. If you are looking for something a little deeper but still short, check to her biography on PoetryFoundation.org.

Andrée Raymonde Borrel, female agent extraordinaire

Andrée Raymonde Borrel was born on November 18, 1919 into a working-class family in the Parisian suburb of Bécon-les-Bruères.  Her father passed away when she was 11 which led her to quit school in order to work for a dress designer at the age of 14.  Through a series of moves, she and her family came to Toulon on the Mediterranean coast in October 1929.

When World War II broke out, she volunteered to work with the Red Cross.  She finished a crash course in nursing on January 20, 1940, which qualified her to serve as a nurse in the Association des Dames Françaises.  Fifteen days after arrive at Hôpital Complémentaire in Nîmes she was sent back following a decree requiring nurses working in hospitals to be at least 21.  A few days later the decree was revoked and she was sent to the Hôpital de Beaucaire.  It was here she met Lieutenant Maurice Dufour.  Upon the closing of the Hôpital de Beaucaire, the two were sent to the Hôpital Complémentaire.  Around the end of July, this hospital was also closed and, at the request of Dufour, she was allowed to resign after which she went to work for an underground organisation with which Dufour was involved.

At the beginning of August 1941, Dufour and Borrel established the Villa Rene-Therese in Canet-plage, which became the last safe house before the dangerous route over the Pyrénées on the “Pat O’Leary Line”, an escape network establish by Albert Guérisse with the support of MI9.  Their work in helping British airmen shot down over France, SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents, Jewish and other refugees trying to escape from France was so successful, they had to purchase a larger villa, Villa Anita.  By the end of December the escape network had been compromised, eventually forcing Dufour and Borrel to escape themselves over the Pyrénes.  The two eventually were flown to England, Dufour on March 29,1942 with Borrel on April 24, 1942.  On May 15, 1942, Andrée was recruited by the Special Operations Executive.

On the night of September 24, 1942, Andrée became the first female SOE agent to be parachuted into occupied France as part of operation “Whitebeam”, whose primary goal was to set up resistance networks in Paris and Northern France eventually transferring to the “Prosper” circuit.

On the night of June 23-24, 1943, Andrée was arrested by the Gastapo along with several other members of the Prosper circuit.  During her captivity at Fresnes Prison, she smuggled out notes to her mother written on cigarette paper hidden in lingerie sent to her sister for washing.

On May 13, 1944, along with F section agents Yolnade Beekman, Madeleine Damerment, Eliane Plewman, Odette Sansom as well as fellow SOE agents Vera Leigh, Sonia Olschaneszky and Diana Rowden , she was transferred to separate cells in Karlsruhe (Justizvollzugsantstalt Karlsruhe) prison.  On July 6, 1944, Borrel, Leigh, Olschanezky and Rowden were to the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in France.  While awaiting their execution, the four women were held in separate cells.  Through her window, Borrel was able to communicate with other prisoners, including a Belgian army physician who had headed the Pat O’Leary escape line, who testified in the post-war trial of the men charged with the execution of the four women where he stated “I saw the four women going to the crematorium, one after the other.  One went, and two or three minutes later another went.”

According to testimony, the four women were given a 10cc dose of phenol, which the doctor believed to be a lethal dose.  Three of the women were, one by one, placed into the crematorium and burned.  As the fourth woman’s body was being inserted feet first, she came to and began fighting back.  The guards were eventually able to force her into the crematorium and burn her alive, but not before she was able to scratch the face of her executioner Peter Straub, which was later used as evidence at his trial.

Following her captivity, the SEO awarded her the following citation:

This officer was parachuted into France in November 1942 as an assistant to an organiser in the Paris area. She proved herself an able and devoted lieutenant, and was appointed second in command of the organisation. Owing to her cool judgment she was always chosen for the most delicate and dangerous work such as recruiting and arranging rendezvous, and she acted as “cut-out” for her commanding officer.

  Lt. Borrel was also given the task of organizing parachute dropping operations, and took part in several coups de mains, notably an operation against the Chevilly power station in March 1943. She distinguished herself by her coolness and efficiency and always volunteered for the most dangerous tasks. Her commanding officer paid tribute to her great qualities, describing her as “a perfect lieutenant, an excellent organiser who shares all the dangers”.

Lt Borrel was arrested by the Gestapo in July 1943. For her great bravery and devotion to duty during nine months of active underground work in France, it is recommended that she be appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (civil division). 

Major-General C.Me V. Gubbins.  HS-9 – Special Operations Executive:  Personal Files

Posthumously, France award her the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance.  Britain awarded her the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct (KCBC).  The concentration campe where she was executed is now a French government historical site.  She is also listed on the “Roll of Honor” on the Valençay SOE Memorial in Valençay.  

Sally Hemings, one of the many things about slavery…

The article “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, A Brief Account“, available on the official website for the Monticello Estate in Charlottesville, Virginia, begins “Years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson fathered at least six of Sally Heming’s children.” and ends with “Questions remain about the nature of the relationship that existed between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings…”. In that framework, the schizophrenia of the evolution of the American story of slavery is clear.

Sally’s story is too complex, too clouded by bad guardians of history, and too shrouded in a romantic idea of the choice a slave could have to do it justice in such a small piece, but too important not to bring into the light of day by anyone who can boost the signal. If you are unfamiliar with her story, I encourage you to continue your research. Her connection to the very founding of this country so clearly still in turmoil, among so many other reasons, merits our concentrated attention.

Sally Hemings, born in 1773, was the daughter of Elizabeth Hemings (1735-1807), an enslaved African woman, and John Wayles, Thomas Jefferson’s father-in-law. There are no known images of her, with only four known descriptions of her appearance and personality. There are no known existing examples of her writing. Today it is astonishingly unknown if she was literate.

Sally came to Monticello as a toddler with her enslaved family as part of Jefferson’s inheritance upon the death of his father-in-law. At the age of 14, she was selected by Jefferson’s sister-in-law to accompany his daughter Maria to Paris, France, as a household servant in the Jefferson household, where she was re-united with her older brother James who had previously been transported to France by Jefferson to study French cooking. During her time in France it is known that she learned French, though it is also unclear if she could read and write it. According to Madison Heming’s account, it was here that she became Mr. Jefferson’s concubine.

At the age of 16, according to the Monticello estate, Sally “refused to come back, and only did so upon negotiate ‘extraordinary privileges’ for herself and freedom for her future children.” She was pregnant with a child that lived “but a short time” upon arriving in Virginia. There is no additional record of this child. From here, she served as an enslaved household servant, including taking care of Jefferson’s chamber and wardrobe.

During this period, Sally gave birth to six additional children, four of which survived:

  • 1795, a daughter, Harriet Hemings who passed 2 years later
  • 1798, a son, Beverly who survived to adulthood becoming a carpenter and fiddler
  • 1799, an unnamed daughter was born and passed
  • 1801, Harriet, their only surviving daughter, was born. She was a spinner in Jefferson’s textile factory.
  • 1805, their son Madison was born. He became a carpenter and joiner.
  • 1808, their son Eston was born. He was a carpenter and musician. It is his lineage that was used to establish the DNA connection back to his father in 1998.

In 1822, Sally’s children Beverly and Harriet Hemings were permitted to leave Monticello without being freed. It is reported that the two passed into white society without discovery of their connection to Monticello nor their African bloodline.

Upon Jefferson’s death in 1826, Sally was unofficially freed, a practice known as “giving their time” by Jefferson’s daughter Martha. His will freed Sally’s younger children, Madison and Eston.

In 1830, Sally Hemings and her sons Madison and Eston are listed as free white people in the 1830 census. In a subsequent census (1833) following the Nat Turner Rebellion of 1831, Sally described herself as a free mulatto who had lived in Charlottesville since 1826.

Madison Hemings reported that his mother lived with he and Eston until her death in 1835. There is no record of where she is buried.

As of the writing of the very meager post, 185 years after her death, Sally’s story is a sad reminder of how easily powerful people, alone or in group, can remove any inconvenient detail from history. It reminds us that in addition to historians, the family stories, the fiction stories, our shared human stories serve as a counter-balance to this all to familiar practice. Without this counter-balance, it is doubtful that the mother of six of one of the founding father’s children would be remembered apart from four vague and insignificant mentions from other privileged members of her contemporary society.

Sally Hemings, an enslaved girl servant who became an enslaved woman servant who performed critical household tasks in arguably one of the richest and most prestigious American households, who learned French while working and living in Paris, at least today, has been relegated to history as:

  • the longtime concubine to her OWNER, beginning in her EARLY TEENS and his MID-FORTIES.
  • the mother of six of said OWNER’S children, which is undisputed by the estate and includes DNA evidence, but remains somehow shrouded in questions.
  • a woman who could have stayed in Paris as a free woman, but chose to negotiate the lives of future children to be born of her 44+ year old OWNER.
  • The personal slave, officially of Mr. Jefferson’s daughter Maria, but known to be of Mr Jefferson himself in a great many intimate capacities.
  • Never officially freed
  • Physically lost to history, leaving behind no images, no writings by or about her, and no known grave to visit.

The interest in her life lends hope that we will one day know more about this elusive piece of the American puzzle. A piece, like so many other like hers, that must be faced, even if it confuses before it heals.

Maggie Lena Walker, banker/activist extraordinaire!

Maggie Lena Walker was born Maggie Lena Draper in Richmond, Virginia on July 15, 1864 to Elizabeth Draper, a former slave and assistant cook for Elizabeth Van Lew, an abolitionist, and Eccles Cuthbert, an Irish American who had met her mother on the Van Lew estate.  Her parents were never married.  Her mother married William Mitchell, the butler of the Van Lew estate in 1870 and shortly after the family moved away from the estate to a small house of their own.  

In 1876 William drown in a river.  His death, ruled a suicide by police but contested in the mind of Maggie, left the family in severe poverty.  Her mother began a laundry business where Maggie assisted with cleaning the laundry for their white patrons.  During this time she became increasingly aware of the disparity between the quality of life for people of color vs whites, an awareness that would eventually lead to her devoting her life to narrowing that gap.

Maggie was educated, attending both Lancaster School and the Richmond Colored Normal School, both institutions dedicated to the education of African Americans.  While attending the Richmond Colored Normal School, she joined the fraternal order dedicated to the advancement of the social and financial standing of African Americans known as the Independent Order of St. Luke.

In 1883, she completed her training as a teacher and returned to Lancaster School to teach where she remained until 1886 when she was forced to quit after marrying Armstead Walker, Jr. as the school had a strict policy against married teachers.

For the next decade, she continued her work for the Order of St-Luke and focused on her family.  During this period she gave birth to her first son, Russell (1890) as well as her second, Armstead, who tragically passed at the age of 7.  In 1895 she became the grand deputy matron in the Order and established a youth branch of the order with the goal of inspiring social consciousness in young African Americans.  In 1897 she gave birth to her second son, Melvin.

In 1899, she became the Grand Secretary of the Order of St. Luke’s.  As she assumed control of the organization, the Order was on the verge of bankruptcy.  In 1901 she revealed her plan to save the order, with which she was able to follow through on each item.  In 1902 she founded the St. Luke Herald, a news organization dedicated to distributing the Order’s news to local chapters and assisting with it’s educational work.

In 1902, she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, the first known bank dedicated to the cause of the African American community, making her the first woman to become the president of a bank.  Additionally, in 1905, she opened the a department store, St. Luke’s Emporium, which offered African-American women work opportunities as well as giving black communities access to cheaper goods.

In 1915, Russell Walker mistook his father for an intruder and shot him, killing him.  Around this time, Maggie also developed diabetes.

Maggie Lena Walker with the Staff of St-Luke’s 1917

Undeterred, in 1921, she unsuccessfully ran for the superintendent of public instruction seat on the Republican ticket.  She continued her work with St-Luke’s, which was continuing to have favorable results.  By 1924, the bank served a membership of more than 50,000 people in 1,500 local chapters, and surviving the Great Depression as many other banks failed by merging it with two other banks.

In 1929 she resigned from the position of President of the bank, ending a 27 year successful tenure and leaving a legacy that continues to this day under the name of Consolidated Bank & Trust Co., making it the oldest black owned bank in the United States.

Through the course of her impressive life, she also served on the board of trustees for several women’s groups, including the National Association of Colored Women and the Virginia Industrial School for Girls, though she did not limit herself to women’s causes.  She served locally as vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization for which she also served on the board.  She additional served a s a member of the Virginia Interracial Commission.

During the last few years of her life she was confined to a wheelchair.  She passed away December 15, 1934 at the age of 70 from complications related to her diabetes.  

Her residence, located at 110 1/2 East Leigh Street Richmond, Virginia, a section of town that was known as the “Harlem of the South”, was purchased by the National Parks Services and turned into a National Historic site in 1979.  The furnishing in her home, built in 1883, are original family pieces.

Phillis Wheatley, first female black poet

Phillis Wheatley, the first known published female black poet in the United States, was born 1753 in West Africa.  In 1761, against her will she brought to New England and sold to John Wheatley of Boston.  The Wheatley’s, taking an interest in her education and her precocious nature, allowed her to learn to read and write, in which she became proficient by the age of nine. 

Modelling her works after John Milton, Thomas Gray, and Alexander Pope, she began writing poetry at the age of thirteen.  Her first published poem “On the Death the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield” was published in many major cities including Boston, New York, Philadelphia and London.  Over the course of the next few years, she continued to print a number of such broadsides elegizing prominent British and colonial leaders.

In 1771, at the suggestion of her doctor, she accompanied Nathalie Wheatley to London where she was well received.  Two years later, in 1773, she published thirty-nine of her poems in London as Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.  The book included some of her elegies, but also poems treating race such as “On Being Brought from Africa to America”.

She returned to America later the same year, where she was emancipated shortly after*.  In 1776, she wrote a letter and a poem in support of George Washington to which he responded with an invitation to visit him at Cambridge, stating that he would be “happy to see a person so favoured by the muses.”

In 1778, she married John Peters, a grocer, and had three children, all of whom died young.  She continued to write, producing a second volume that would include thirty-three new poems and thirteen letters, but was unable to raise enough money to publish them.  Many of the poems for this volume have been lost to time.

She died alone in a boarding house on December 5, 1784 at the age of thirty-one.

* There is some debate as to the exact timing of her emancipation.  Scholars believe it to be somewhere between 1774-78, corresponding to the passing of Mrs. Wheatley (1774) and Mr. Wheatley (1778).

Nobel laureate Selma Lagerlöf

Selma Lagerlöf was born November 20, 1858 in Mårbacka, Sweden.  Apart from a period of lameness in her youth, her childhood was uneventful.  She was home schooled, but eventually trained in Stockholm as a teacher and became a schoolmistress in Lnadskrona in 1885.

She wrote first novel, Gösta Berlings saga, 2 volumes, which was published in 1891 followed in 1894 by a collection of short stories entitled Osynliga länkar (Invisible Links).

In 1895 she won a traveling scholarship and quit teaching to devote herself full time to writing.  After visiting Italy, she wrote Antikrists mirakler (1897; The Miracles of Antichrist).  In 1901-02 she published Jerusalem, which was inspired by a winter spent in Egypt and Palestine (1899-1900).  The popularity of this work established her as the foremost Swedish novelist of the time.

WWI having disturbed her deeply, she stopped writing for a while.  Eventually returned to her hometown where some years later she wrote and published several more signifiant works including Ett barns memoarer (1930; Memories of My Childhood), and Dagbok för Selma Lagerlöf (1932; The Diary of Selma Lagerlöf ), a Värmland trilogy: Löwensköldska ringen (1925; The Ring of the Löwenskölds), Charlotte Löwensköld (1925); and Anna Svärd (1928).

In 1909  she became the first women, and first Swedish person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings.”  She used some of her Nobel Prize money to buy back their family manor home which had had to be sold upon her fathers death.

She passed way on Saturday, March 16, 1940 in Mårbacka, Sweden.

She drove them crazy

1914 born Nov 28, 1914 in Urbana Arkansas.  In 1934, instead of attending Fisk University as planned, she eloped to New York City with Prizefighter Joe Jeannette II, who was also president of a Harlem Dusters motorcycle club.  A year later, Gertrude became the first woman to obtain a license to drive a motorcycle in New York City.  In 1942, she also became the first woman to pass the cab driver’s test.  On this subjet she is said to have said at a ceremony at the Dwyer Cultural Center in Harlem in 2011:

“In those days, they didn’t allow black drivers to work downtown; you had to work uptown. They said, ‘Say, buddy, you know you’re not supposed to be on this line.”  

As the story goes, on her first day of driving a cab, she had waited patiently in line in front of Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan for her turn for a fare.  When she was advanced to the front of the line, another driver cut her off.  To which she responded by running into his car.   When the other driver got a good look at her, he is said to have screamed: “A woman driver! A woman driver!” clearly having only noticed her skin color and not her gender.

During this same period of her life, wanting to overcome a speech impediment, she used the money from driving a cab to enroll herself in a speech class at the American Negro Theater, where she studied beside Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, ultimately leading to her Broadway debut shortly after.

It was not long after this that, after seeing what she described as a lack of authentic black characters on the stage, she began writing plays in 1950.

Over the course of her life, she extended her artistic endeavours into film and television as well as stage.  She continued to act into her 80s, finally retiring from directing at 98.

She outlived her husband, who died in 1956 and her child who died at the age of five in 1940.  She passed away on April 4, 2018.  She is survived by 10 nephews and 6 nieces.

Want to learn more about this amazing woman?

Not before and not since (1925 in Texas)

In 1925 in Texas, USA, the case W. T. Johnson et al. v. J. M. Darr et al was brought before the Supreme Court of Texas, bringing with it a particular problem for then governor Pat M. Neff. The gist of the case was to establish if the trustees of the fraternal organization Woodmen of the World (Darr et al.) were entitled to two tracts of land in El Paso. The gist of Mr. Neff’s problem was that the case was directly connected to one of the most powerful organisation in Texas, the Woodsmen, whose members included the vast majority of the male members of the Texas board.

Mr. Neff made multiple failed attempts to populate a three member special Supreme Court before he made the decision to instead nominate women to the temporary position. As the Woodsmen did not allow women to join, the women could not be considered in conflict of interest because of an affiliation with the organisation.

1925 all female Texas Special Supreme Court in session

Neff initially submitted Nellie Robertson of Granbury for the Chief Justice position with Edith Wilmans of Dallas, and Hortense Ward of Houston as Associate Justices, though the final make-up of the court was with Hortense Ward as Chief Justice with Ruth V. Brazzil of Galveston and Hattie L. Henenberg of Dallas as Associate Justices.

I’ll concede that this is only technically the first all female Supreme Court in the US, in the sense that the three women sitting on the court were there only for this case and did not replace the existing all male court, but it is still noteworthy, particularly given the time (women had only just obtained the right to vote in the US) and the place (in the famously conservative Texas).

Source

For those of you interested in context, the first woman was seated on the US Supreme Court in 1981 (Sandra Day O’Connor), more than 50 years later. The first woman to serve full time on the Texas Supreme Court was in 1982 (Ruby Kless Sondock).

At the time of this writing, there is no record of any other all female state Supreme Court to date, provisional or otherwise.

Katie Mulcahey and the whim of an insecure man

It is important in our search for our female heroes lost to history that we do not ignore the “working class” heroes; those beautiful souls, having little to no resources (comparatively speaking), who encounter oppression and refuse to bend to its momentum.

Katie Mulcahey is one such hero. Although we do not know much of her life, court records tells us she had character and brains.

Her claim to fame? She beat back a new oppression on women’s liberties simply by being unaware of a law, breaking said law, and ultimately vindicating the women of New York City when she beat the charges.

On January 21, 1908, “Little Tim”, New York City Alderman Timothy Sullivan, saw his Sullivan’s Act put into place which restricted women from smoking in public, which he deemed to be a sign of immorality and loose character in women, but notably not in men.

The following day, unaware of this new law, Katie Mulcahey lit her inadvertently defiant cigarette as she leaned against the stone wall of a Bowery District building. A nearby police officer tells her she mustn’t do this, adding “…what would Alderman Sullivan say?”, the ensuing exchange resulted in her arrest for public smoking.

When she appeared before the court, she told the judge, “I’ve got as much right to smoke as you have. I never heard of this new law and I don’t want to hear about it. No man shall dictate to me.”

The district judge fined Katie $5 for her offense and released her, but Katie refused to pay.

After reviewing the wording of the Sullivan’s Law, lawyers noted that there was no mention of any fine and no punishment had been defined. She was eventually released without mention of the arrest on her record.

The grander consequences of the arrest of Katie Mulcahey were likely unexpected by Mr. Sullivan. In spite of the ardent support for the law and subsequent arrest of Katie by The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (also known for their mounting pressure for the prohibition of alcohol), the majority of New York City inhabitants were on the side of Katie.

The subsequent public debate on the subject resulted in the final veto of the law by the mayor of New York City, George B. McClellan, Jr., thus ending the first ban of women smoking in the U.S.

photograph is NOT of Katie Mulcahey. There are no known existing images of her.

Zona Gale, the basics

Zona Gale was the American writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1921 for her play “Miss Lulu Bett”. Apart from being the first woman to win this prize, she also lived a generally impressive life full of liberty, creativity and social consciousness.

She was born on August 26, 1874 in Portage, Wisconsin. At the age of seven (~1881) she is purported to have written her first book (unpublished and apparently lost to time) with her first attempt at getting published at the ripe old age of 13 (~1887).

Undaunted by this early rejection, she went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin in 1895 with a Bachelors in Literature. Upon graduation she began working for the Evening Wisconsin and Milwaukee Journal where she worked as she continued her studies, eventually graduating with a Masters in Literature in 1899, again from the University of Wisconsin.

In 1901 she moved to New York City to work at Evening World until she became a freelance writer in 1903, selling her first short story to Success magazine [titles pending].

After a productive period in New York, she returned to Portage to live.

From here, she seems to find a a groove that suits her and she begins her creative work in earnest. She also begins to be more substantially involved in various liberal civic causes, among which include :

  • participation in the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) and the American Civic Association
  • helping to write the Wisconsin Equal Rights law (1921), which prohibited discrimination against women,
  • sitting on the board of regents of the University of Wisconsin (1923-1929.

She did marry, though later in life at the age of 54 (1928) to William L Breese. She died of pneumonia in a Chicago hospital on December 27, 1938. One additional novel was published posthumously, Magna (1939).

Zona Gale’s Timeline in context

  • 1874, Zona Gale is born (as is Harry Houdini, Herbert Hoover, Winston Churchill, amongst others)
  • 1877, US troops are withdrawn from Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana, marking the end of Reconstruction. Zona is three.
  • 1895, Zona Gale graduates with a Bachelors in Literature from the University of Wisconsin. Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is first shown at St-James’ Theatre in London. The first gas bus route is started in Germany.
  • 1899, Zona Gale graduates from the University of Wisconsin with a Masters in Literature. The Paris Treaty (ending the Spanish-American war) is ratified by the U.S. Senate and gives the U.S. the Philippines, Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
  • 1901, Zona moves to New York. The Commonwealth of Australia is formed. President Theodore Roosevelt becomes 26th president of the U.S. after President William McKinley is shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.
  • 1903, Zona publishes 2 short stories in Success magazine and becomes a freelance writer. The U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor is formed. Ford Motors is officially incorporated.
  • 1904, Zona returns to Portage, Wisconsin. Elizabeth “Lizzie” J. Phillips nee Magie is granted a patent for “Landlords Game”, later to become the game Monopoly.
  • 1906, Romance Island, Zona’s first novel, is published. San Francisco is hit by its famously devastating earthquake.
  • 1907, Zona publishes “The Loves of Pellets and Etarre”. Adolf Hilter’s mother dies. Frida Kahlo is born. Oklahoma becomes the 46th State to be admitted to the union (U.S.).
  • 1908, Zona’s short story “Friendship Village” is published. The famous New Year’s ball drops for the first time in New York City. Converse Rubber Shoe company is founded.
  • 1909, Zona publishes “Friendship Village Love Stories”. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is formed. The first National Woman’s Day is observed in the United States.
  • 1911, Zona publishes “Mothers to Men”. Zona wins an award from Delineator magazine. The Portuguese expel the Jesuits. Hiram Bingham discovers the lost city of Machu Picchu. Ronald Reagan, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, and Tennessee Williams.
  • 1912, Zona’s novel Christmas: A Story is published. The Titanic sinks. New Mexico becomes the 47th state (U.S.).
  • 1913, Zona publishes “When I Was a Little Girl”. Zona releases her pamphlet “Civic Improvement in the Little Towns”. Ford implements the world’s first moving assembly line for it’s Model T.
  • 1914, Zona publishes “Neighborhood Stories” as well as the play The Neighbors. Charlie Chaplin makes his film début in Making a Living. World War I begins.
  • 1915, Zona’s novel Heart’s Kindred is published. U.S. House of Representatives rejects a bill giving women the right to vote. Alexander Graham Bell makes his famous cross-country call to Watson.
  • 1917, Zona’s novel A Daughter of Morning is published. The U.S. enters WWI. The “Silent Sentinels” (suffragettes) first protest outside The White House. Mata Hari is arrested.
  • 1919, Zona’s novel Birth is published. Zona publishes “Peace in Friendship Village”. The 19th amendment to the U.S. constitution (women’s right to vote) is ratified by congress. The 18th amendment to the U.S. constitution (prohibition of alcohol) is ratified by a majority of states thus becoming part of the constitution.
  • 1920, Zona’s novel Miss Lulu Bett is published and transformed to her Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name this same year. Zona publishes “The Neighbors”. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is formed. Walt Disney begins to work as an artist (for KC Slide Co.).
  • 1921, Zona becomes the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Miss Lulu Bett. Zona publishes her book of poetry The Secret Way. The Wisconsin Equal Rights Law is passed into law, becoming the first equal rights bill passed into law in the U.S. Agatha Christie published her first novel. The Communist Party of China is established. Adolph Hitler becomes leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party.
  • 1922, Zona releases her play Uncle Jimmy. Zona releases her pamphlet “What Women Won in Wisconsin”. Zona’s essay “The Novel of Tomorrow” is published in The Novel of Tomorrow and the Scope of Fiction by Twelve American Novelists. The U.S.S.R. is created. The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated. The BBC is formed.
  • 1923, Zona’s novel Faint Perfume is published. Last U.S. troops leave Rhineland (Germany). Hitler stages a demonstration of 5000 storm troopers denouncing the “November Crime”. Fascist volunteer militia forms under Mussolini.
  • 1925, Zona releases her play Mr. Pitt. Mussolini dissolves the Italian parliament. First all female Supreme Court formed in Texas. First issue of New Yorker magazine published. Tennessee makes it illegal to teach evolution (the Butler Act).
  • 1926, Zona’s novel Preface to Life is published. John Logie Baird gives the first demonstration of television in his laboratory in London (TV is invented). Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio becomes Walt Disney Studios. Atlanta, Georgia makes teaching evolution in schools illegal.
  • 1927, Zona publishes “Yellow Gentians and Blue” and “Bill”. Harlem Globe Trotters play their first game. Alfred Hitchcock has his directorial début. First Volvo car produced. Actress May West found guilty of “obscenity and corrupting the morals of youth” in a New York stage play entitled “Sex”, ultimately leading to the launch of her film career.
  • 1928, Zona publishes Portage, Wisconsin and Other Essays. Zona marries William L. Breese. The first U.S. air conditioned office space opens in San Antonio. Scotch tape first marketed by 3-M. Mussolini ends women’s rights in Italy. Sliced bread sold for the first time by the Chillicothe Baking Company, Missouri.
  • 1929, Zona’s novel Borgia is published. President Hoover approves building of Boulder Dam (now known as Hoover dam). Fascist government in Italy bans foreign words. We have the first manned rocket fuelled flight by auto maker Fritz von Opel. Women are considered “persons” under Canadian law. The great stock market crash (U.S.) marks the beginning of the Great Depression.
  • 1930, Zona publishes Bridal Pond, a collection of short stories. The cartoon character Betty Boop makes her début. Pluto is discovered.
  • 1932, Zona releases her plays The Clouds and Evening Clothes. Wisconsin enacts the first U.S. unemployment insurance program. James Markham receives the first patent for a tree (it was a peach tree). Austrian immigrant Adolph Hitler gets his German citizenship. U.S. President Herbert Hoover suggests a 5-day work week. Al Capone starts his sentence for tax evasion.
  • 1933, Zona’s novel Papa La Fleur is published. Zona publishes “Old-Fashioned Tales”. Adolph Hitler forms government with Franz von Papen. The German parliament is dissolved. Ghandi participates in hunger strikes (resulting in jail time) in protest against British oppression in India. German Secret State Police (Gestapo – Geheime Staats Polizei) is established. Albert Einstein arrives in the U.S. as a refugee.
  • 1934, Zona releases her play Faint Perfume, a dramatization of the novel by the same name. Shirley Temple performs in her first film. Leo Szilard patents the chain-reaction design for the atomic bomb.
  • 1937, Zona’s novel Light Woman is published. First state (U.S.) contraception clinic opens in Raleigh, NC. First U.S. social security payment is received. Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappear while flying over the Pacific Ocean. Marihuana tax passed in U.S. essentially rendering the drug illegal. Appalachian Trail is formally completed.
  • 1938, Zona publishes Frank Miller of the Mission Inn (a biography of Frank Miller). Zona Gale dies of pneumonia in Chicago, Il. We have the first use of a “seeing eye dog”. Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia. Germany begins persecution of Jews. The March of Dimes is founded in the U.S. Superman appears for the first time in U.S. comic.
  • 1939, Zona’s novel Magna is published posthumously. WWII begins.

In the year of her birth (1874) in the U.S., the average work week was around 60 hours and paid roughly $1.60 per day.

In the year of her death (1938) in the U.S. the average cost of a new house was $3,900.00. The average wages per year were $1,730.00/year. The average cost of a gallon of gas was 10 cents. The average cost for rent was $27.00/month. A loaf of bread cost 9 cents. The average price for new car was $763.00.