Victoria Woodhull: Fearless Feminist

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Victoria Woodhull (1838—1927) was a woman before her time: a popular lecturer, a broker on Wall Street, a would-be politician, but above all a woman who used and gloried in her gender. For better or worse, flamboyance marked her career path and scandals followed. Woodhull's is one of the most fascinating of nineteenth-century American lives. She came from a family of Ohio ne'er-do-wells, married badly, and made her first fortune in Spiritualism. She was the classic scam artist. Havelin has recounted the particulars, alas with all the latest p.c. euphemisms. Victoria's firstborn is described as "developmentally delayed," although poor Byron was so very severely retarded that caring for him would affect the remainder of Woodhull's life. Neither does Havelin grasp the context and scale of the Spiritualism movement. One illustration actually describes a fortune-telling gypsy as a "medium," when mediums only functioned within theatrical seances—a true depiction of which might further sully Woodhull's reputation, but would certainly be fascinating to readers. The bones of Victoria Woodhull lie here, and it's a start. But her flesh was so much more provocative!
VOYA - Brenna Shanks
This biography details the controversial and tumultuous life of Victoria Woodhull, a girl born to a poor family in Ohio, who through hard work, clever schemes, and sheer nerve, eventually became the first woman in the United States to own a brokerage on Wall Street, operate a weekly paper, and run for the U.S. presidency. Havelin does a good job of relating Woodhull's mercurial nature. An advocate of fair labor practices, women's rights, and public education, Woodhull also believed in spiritualism and spent her early years performing as a medium and clairvoyant in schemes that to the modern reader might seem like pure fraud. She supported free love and birth control when both ideas were rarely spoken of in public. Her newspaper was part political platform and part scandal sheet that eventually brought her to the attention of Anthony Comstock and made her a target of obscenity charges. Contemporary pictures and illustrations are spaced throughout. Source notes, a selected bibliography, a resource list, and an index are included at the end. Interesting and workmanlike, it is a fine biography for public libraries or middle school and high school libraries that need material on suffragists or nineteenth-century figures. Others profiled in the series include piano player Blind Boone, explorer Ernest Shackleton, and Leonardo da Vinci.
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-A well-researched, well-organized biography. The "fearless feminist" was born in Ohio in 1838 into a troubled family. What money they had was sometimes obtained through nefarious means. Woodhull often worked as a medium and healer; one of her customers was Cornelius Vanderbilt, who gave her and her sister the funds to open their own Wall Street brokerage business. At about the same time, Woodhull became active in the suffrage movement, and she ran for U.S. president in 1872. Her fascinating and full life is expertly detailed in this narrative. What could have been confusing and dense, especially the descriptions of the many scandals surrounding her, is instead clearly explained and logically presented. The book is full of crisp black-and-white illustrations and photos that capture the times. This entry fills the gap between picture books and adult materials and is useful for reports.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822559863
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Series: Trailblazer Biographies Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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