Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years by Margaret Mead
During her exceptional life Margaret Mead represented many things to the American public; sage, scientist, noncomformist, crusader for world peace, and archetypal grandmother. An enduring cultural icon for our century, she came to symbolize a new kind of woman, one who successfully combined marriage and motherhood with a career, and serious scholarship with a singular concern for its role in the lives of ordinary people.
Even today, when memoirs of successful women scientists and scholars remain scarce, Blackberry Winter, which was first published in 1972, provides a rare glimpse of a pioneering woman's formative journey. In her chapters "On Being a Granddaughter" and "The Pattern My Family Made Me," Mead examines the wisdom she gained from her maternal grandmother as well as the inheritance she recieved from all her ancestors, and how her upbringing fueled her desire for a fulfilling career that would reflect her own emerging values. We are treated to captivating portraits of bohemian life in New York City in the 1920s; her early days at the American Museum of Natural History, where she met her longtime mentor, Franz Boas, and close friend, Ruth Benedict; and first field trip to study adolescent girls in Samoa. Near the book's end, in "On Being a Grandmother," Mead reflects on the legacy she leaves her descendants, indeed, all of humanity. This classic autobiography, reissued for a new generation of readers, will appeal to anyone eager to discover a woman of our century who made her way in a world seldom hospitable to the dreams and accomplishments of women.