Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson

Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson

by Barbara Ransby
Pub. Date:
Yale University Press
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Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson

Eslanda "Essie" Cardozo Goode Robeson lived a colorful and amazing life. Her career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin's Russia, and China two months after Mao's revolution. She was a woman of unusual accomplishment—an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women's rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker. Yet historians for the most part have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband. In this masterful book, biographer Barbara Ransby refocuses attention on Essie, one of the most important and fascinating black women of the twentieth century.

Chronicling Essie's eventful life, the book explores her influence on her husband's early career and how she later achieved her own unique political voice. Essie's friendships with a host of literary icons and world leaders, her renown as a fierce defender of justice, her defiant testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy's infamous anti-communist committee, and her unconventional open marriage that endured for over 40 years—all are brought to light in the pages of this inspiring biography. Essie's indomitable personality shines through, as do her contributions to United States and twentieth-century world history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300124347
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 01/08/2013
Pages: 424
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Growing Up along the Color Line, 1895-1918 13

2 A Harlem Love Story, 1919-1927 27

3 Onto the World Stage, 1920s 46

4 Remapping a Marriage, Career, and Worldview, 1927-1933 59

5 Becoming a Writer and Anthropologist, 1930s 81

6 Africa at Last, 1936 102

7 Madrid to Moscow, Political Commitments Deepen, 1936-1939 122

8 Returning Home and Finding a New Voice, 1939-1945 137

9 Into the Congo, 1946 159

10 American Arguments, 1946-1950 179

11 The United Nations and a World Political Family, 1950-1956 205

12 Standing Tall: The Cold War and Politics of Repression, 1950s 223

13 A Failing Body and a Hopeful Heart, 1958-1961 239

14 Always the Fighter: A Pen as Her Weapon, 1961-1965 256

Epilogue 277

Chronology 281

List of Abbreviations to the Notes 291

Notes 293

Bibliography of Select Writings Eslanda Robeson 345

Index 349

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