Sunday, March 20, 2011

Heroine of the Weekend

This weekend's Heroine is Matilda Gage, suffragist, Native America rights activist, abolitionist and author, who died on March 18, 1898. She's not as well-known as some of the early suffragists, but was a tireless worker for human rights.

Matilda was born March 24, 1826, the daughter of abolitionist Hezekiah Joslyn, and grew up in a house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad, which established her concern for the rights of others. She lived most of her life in Fayettesville, New York, eventually marrying Henry Gage and having 5 children with him (one of her daughters, Maud, married Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum).

Her women's rights career was launched when she spoke at the National Women's Rights Convention at Syracuse, NY in 1852 and joined forces with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (though she came to be considered much more radical than them!). She went on to serve as president of the National Women's Suffrage Association 1875-77, holding other positions within the organization for 20 years. Eventually she and her supporters split off into the more extreme Women's National Liberal Union in 1890.

She became a Theosophist, who opposed the Christian church and it's opposition to a change in women's traditional roles, strongly supportingt the separation of church and state (a debate still ongoing) and publishing such works as Woman Church and State to lay out her position. She was the owner and editor of the feminist The National Citizen, and was arrested for attempting to vote in 1871. She supported Victoria Woodhull in the 1872 presidential election.

Matilda Gage died in 1898 of a stroke. She was cremated, but a memorial stone in her family plot is carved with her lifelong motto: "There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home, or Heaven. That word is Liberty."

A couple of sources on her fascinating life:
Sally Roesch Wagner, Matilda Joslyn Gage: She Whol Holds The Sky (1998)
Leila R. Brammer, Excluded from Suffrage History: Matilda Joslyn Gage, 19th Century American Feminist (2000)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

I just realized I haven't done a Things I Love Thursday post in a while! I need to start that again--I think I need some gratitude in my life. But this Thursday I love--St. Patrick's Day!! What's not to love? Guinness, the Chieftains, my favorite green scarf, and all things Irish. (For a brief look at St. Patrick and the history of his day, you can look here...)

And if you happen to be on Twitter, Grand Central Publishing is having a giveaway today, including my two "Daughters of Erin" books, Countess of Scandal and Duchess of Sin! Look for #4EvrStPatty. Erin Go Bragh!

(also, I'm at H&H today talking about Irish romance...)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Heroine of the Weekend

Our heroine this weekend is Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, who was born on this day in 1637, and until Lady Diana Spencer was the only non-royal royal bride. (See how it flows into yesterday's post about the new Kate Middleton doll???)

Anne was born at Cranbourne Lodge, Windsor, but spent most of her youth in exile with the court of Charles II--her father, Sir Edward Hyde (later made an earl) was one of the king's most trusted advisers, and Anne served as a lady-in-waiting to Charles's sister Mary, Princess of Orange. On a visit to Paris with the princess, she met James, Duke of York, and the two embarked on an affair that ended in pregnancy and a secret marriage in the Netherlands in 1659. (They were "officially" remarried the next year in London, following the Restoration).

Anne was not considered beautiful, but she more than made up for it with great intelligence and energy, and a famous virtue that made her not very popular with Charles's court. She was a patron of the arts, and involved in politics and current events in a way that never interested her husband. Though the marriage was not happy (James was flagrantly unfaithful) they worked well together. The French ambassador declared Anne had "courage, cleverness, and energy almost worthy of a king's blood," while Pepys wrote "the duke, in all things but his amours, was led by the nose by his wife."

The royal couple had several children, but only two, the future queens Mary and Anne, survived. Anne Hyde died young, probably of breast cancer, soon after having her 8th child on April10, 1671, and was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey. Like her husband, she converted to Catholicism late in her life, an action that would have dire consequences when he later became king...

I wasn't able to find a biography only of her, but here are a few sources on her life:
Antonia Fraser, King Charles II
Barbara Softly, The Queens of England
The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kate Middleton Doll

I love royal wedding memorabilia as much as the next crazy Anglophile, but I am just not sure I would want this tiny Kate Middleton standing on the shelf staring at me all the time.... (though I confess I do have a Princess Di bride doll, my very best childhood Christmas present EVER!)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Heroine of the Weekend

Happy weekend, everyone! Our Heroine this week (now that I have my computer woes somewhat straightened out) is French author Marie d'Agoult (who wrote under the name Daniel Stern, and is perhaps best known today for leaving her husband to run off with Franz Liszt!). She died on this day in 1876.

She was born Marie Catherine Sophie de Flavigny on December 31, 1805, to a Frenchman in exile in Germany and a wealthy German banker's daughter. After spending her childhood in Frankfurt, she was sent to be educated in a French convent after the royal family was restored to the throne, and married the comte d'Agoult in 1827. The couple had 3 daughters, but were eventually divorced in 1835 after she eloped with Liszt. Marie escaped her unhappy marriage by becoming a leading artistic hostess in Paris (attendees at her salon included Hugo, Chopin, and Rossini, among many others, and they remained her friends after she was ostracized by high society).

The notorious couple lived together from 1835 to 1839 and broke up for good in 1844, but they spent their time having children (2 daughters, including Cosima who married Richard Wagner, and one son who died young of tuberculosis) and traveling on Liszt's performance tours. Marie also became involved in writing for the liberal press of the day and starting a career in fiction. Her most sensational work was Nelida, considered to be a fictionalized memoir of her affair with Liszt, but her Essai sur la liberte (1847) was very well-received and gave her a place among such feminist philosophers as Mary Wollstonecraft and Madame de Stael.

Her Lettres Republicanes, written during the 1848 uprising, was a sensation, and she stayed involved in politics during the rest of her life. Though she is overshadowed now by her contemporary George Sand, her contributions to progressive thought, feminism, and literature shoudl not be overlooked.

She died in 1876 and was buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery.

For more information on her very eventful life, look for Phyllis Stock-Morton's The Life of Marie d'Agoult, alias Daniel Stern (2000)