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tv   Book Discussion on The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe  CSPAN  May 29, 2016 7:00am-8:16am EDT

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was not litigated or interpreted as a religion case. the consequences today of a speaking up and being punished can also be dire. many students enter the school to prison pipeline as a result of being expended-- next belt or sent to an alternative school for troubled students after they engage in protected speech, so just like that jehovah's witnesses in 1943, the consequences are stark. burnett held people including young students could not be forced to say what was not in their mind, if concept we today called the role of compelled speech. the court and besides the constitutional limits on the states course of powers, whether exercised by quote village tyrants or by the federal government's and it underscored the first amendment was designed
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to protect nonconformists of all stripes. the core particularly focused on schools because the case involved a two elementary school girls. said because schools are educating the young for citizenship, they must scrupulously protect individual rights if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and to teach youths to discount important principles of government as mere-- mere platitudes that you can watch this and other programs on my netbook tv.org. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> at evening, everyone.
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thank you all so much for coming out tonight for this event. i one of the co-owners of politics and prose. my husband and co-owner, business partner brad graham is floating around in the back somewhere and on behalf of our staff we welcome you to the event tonight. a few housekeeping matters before we get started and i think most of you have been to events here, but for anyone who hasn't, our guest will speak about her book and then we will take questions at the end. we do record these event and we also have c-span here tonight. if you can possibly make it to the microphone next to this pillar we would be grateful because that makes the audio more enjoyable for those tried to listen. also, if you have a photo or other noisemaking device on your person and you could possibly silence it or make it so it won't make noise, we would be grateful for that and lastly at the end of the event if you
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would not mind a folded up your chairs and putting them to the side. elaine will sign books appear. we have plenty of copies up front. i think you will note it looks like and she would be happy to signed at the end appeared the table. i also want to point out that we are coming to the end of women's history month. it's been a great month for us here at the store with a terrific events and i think for me this one is the highlight. we have a whole table dedicated to brooks about women, by women, related to women's history. it's up towards the front of the store and we are very very happy to be able to celebrate this month with such terrific authors and terrific books. with akamai just want to say what a privilege it is to host elaine showalter tonight. she will be talking to her new book, i think it's her 10th book called "the civil wars of julia ward howe: a biography". i'm sure many of you sought was
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the leader of you in the sunday "new york times" a few weeks ago, so congratulations on that. [applause]. >> well deserved. zero get to the book a minute, but i wanted to mention several of elaine's family members are here tonight, also. it's frankly not fair that so much talent resides in one family's gene pool. elaine's daughter was the one handed out the beautiful little m&ms. she is a friend and former colleague of mine from the clinton white house and i have to say she is too humble to say this, but she is one of the finest speechwriters in the country. was then, has been since and still is now. her brother in elaine's son michael, it is not here, but you may know of him. he's getting traffic reviews right now as a director of a new film. and writer, correct. deborah is correcting me.
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lastly, as i was happy that politics and prose, someone always knows a bit more, so thank you. elaine's husband is a professor for many years and scholars-- where did you go cracks there you are. scholar of 18th century french who is a devoted partner in champion as any spouse could possibly be. this sort of sets out spouse sadly that julia ward howe herself never how'd-- had, but anyway, welcome to you family members. most of us know julia ward howe for having written the battle hymn of the republic and if we are slightly more studious students of history we might also know she was a poet and later an advocate for women's suffrage, but we likely don't know the depth of her misery and marriage, her secret writings on a brighter note the company she with, cultural political elite of her day work in this wonderful biography we become deeply immersed in their public
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and private world and as the title of the book suggests we've become witnesses of her civil wars, her gallant, but tenuous attempts to match up her opinions against the challenges and expectations placed on the women in 19th century america. i just love this book and i'm not going to be shy about a. i love this book and not simply because it's a great biography, not simple because it's a great work of historical scholarship, but it is those, just narrative nonfiction at its best. incredible story, a story that tells a much bigger story and in such a way it of deeply and on so many levels that if you pick this book up you'll not to put it down. should be no surprise given the author. elaine is a professor emeritus of english at preston and the most respected feminist literary critic of her nation and her previous book contest to her impact on the academy as she
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reship scholarship about american women. for melo actuals that would surprise career, schmidt, but she's not any scholar. who daughter told me she has never been content to put yourself in an ivory tower and is after all at hardy teacher. luckily, for these princeton students several generations of them have gotten to know that firsthand and i might also say here we know this and i frankly cannot believe we are so lucky because elaine is teaching classes here now and not surprisingly is one of our most popular instructors. i found out a few minutes before the event started that there are only two spots left in her upcoming class on great short stories by american women, so if you have interest, sign up right away. thank you for coming and teaching here. be on her teaching a book writing she is enthusiastic popular culture and has written tv reviews for people magazine. she's a regular on twitter and she is also confessed in france
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to a passion for shopping. describing herself as a woman and a feminist quote who never saw nearing i didn't like, who has many back copies of vogue as victorian studies, whose idea of bliss is an afternoon in the makeup department at saks. i'm thinking about her latest book and write resonates so deeply with me and i think with semi- others i think its because in many parts of elaine, scholar, teacher, intellectual, feminist, popular culture and easiest come together so fully in her writing and storytelling and this is an important book, but more poorly it's a marvelous book. thank you so much for being here. [applause]. clec thank you. >> i love the introduction. i'm going to start out with a bit of what we know.
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>> please stand and sing this song with a. the battle hymn of the republic. you know these words. i know you do. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> all rights. [applause]. >> thank you for setting that up for me. that's whitney houston and its 1991, and in her performance she was at the naval air station welcoming home our troops from the gulf war. if you see the video on youtube she is singing to about 3000 military personnel and by the
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end of this and she does a motion and everyone is rocking out and it's amazing. it's my favorite diversion of the battle hymn and everyone has recorded it, elvis did it, johnny cash, joan baez and of coarse the morbid-- mormon tabernacle choir. this is the one i really like the best and it also kind of brings together the elements of the military and spiritual and rousing that i think has made it such a classic lyric. wing julia ward was growing up in new york, she was a studious redhead living in manhattan, just slightly over 5 feet tall and she dreams as a teenager of becoming an important american writer. she says throughout those years i had the vision of some great work, which i myself would get to the world. i would write that novel the play of the age.
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that did not work out. first of all, her father who was a very rich bakery new york, he owned what is now have a midtown manhattan. he censored her reading, so she actually read very very few novels as a girl. although, she did sneak off to read. she was not allowed to go to the theater and when she wrote this she had actually never seen a play. so, this kind of vision of her future was unrealistic, but like many gifted young women in the 19th century, she turned it to poetry as a safe outlet, a feminine outlet for young women and her mother who had died at the age of 27 also bearing the six children as julia would, managed within her 27 years to publish a few pollens herself in the newspapers and in the lady's annual, fancy volumes published every year.
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they were gifts to give women at christmas. in the end, julie did-- julia did publish books of poetry and even wrote a you extremely unsuccessful place, but the battle hymn of the republic was the real contribution to the age and as she knew when she wrote her memoirs in 1899, i have written one poem, which although composed in the strain of the civil war is now sound south and north by the champions of a free governments. okay, so one poem of the 19th century, but that's a lot more than many poets get and assuming more than than men-- most 19th century american poets and she deserves her place in history and her place on the postage stamp since it for that. over 154 years since she wrote it has become a part of not only the american, but international whopper for of music about heroism, war, justice, spiritual
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missions and was performed at the national cathedral in washington after 911 and one said about it that the battle hymn becomes the closer. is the music that accompanies the great american life and was played at the funeral of bobby kennedy. ronald reagan and recently nancy reagan, also. that was extraordinary. notice that because very few women are included in the list of those who had a plate at their funerals because very few women have state funerals and you don't really know about that and although the vet-- battle hymn was played at the funeral of winston churchill, it was not paid for margaret thatcher, so it's kind of interesting. is identified with merit-- male heroism and on the other hand it has become kind of a meme, a reference points for determined women and you think of the battle hymn of the-- also the
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battle hymn of sarah palin. if you don't know the battle hymn of sarah palin and you have a couple of free minutes i recommend you google it because it's unbelievable. [laughter] >> of course, it's also inspired the title of a number of great american novels-- novels. most famously the grapes of wrath. she wrote it in washington probably another legend and she wrote in november, 1861, with a trip to washington with her son. and also friends from boston. that-- they were staying in the willard hotel, which incident-- incidentally has a plaque. that winter she sent it into the atlantic monthly and in february the atlantic monthly printed it on that cover and paid her $5. within a short time, it was the anthem of the union armies and in 1864, it was performed before
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president lincoln. then, in december 2012, the original manuscript of the song signed by how this is the script she wroteat of the willard hotel was auctioned by christie's for $782,000. that's quite appreciation over time. i don't know who bought it. maybe someone will find out. i would love to know who bought it, that malcolm forbes is the one who sold it. julia ward howe story is not a new and and in fact the first biography of julia ward howe was published exactly a century ago in march 1916 and that was very much in my mind in writing this book. i wanted it to come out to mark 100 years of that biography. it was in two volumes. it's really a big book and was written by her three daughters and i am pretty sure, i can't
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guarantee, but i'm pretty sure that it was the first substantial biography of an american woman. before the 20th century, biographies of women were collected. you would get a volume that said celebrated women of maryland or great women of the american revolution. but, a biography of one woman, two volumes long was really remarkable. year after came out in 1917, it one the first pulitzer prize for biography and that was in fact the first year the pulitzer prize was given, so was the first prize for a biography in virtually the first one given for biography in english. when it was done, colombian university was running the awards-- excuse me. nicholas butler who was the
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president of columbia said that it was the best american biography teaching patriotic and unmet self fish service to the people. this is not the term we would ordinarily used to describe our great american hero's. we don't think of jfk the unselfish precedence. test out what we're looking to reward and the house daughters definitely edited the stories of their matters like to smooth over any selfish moments and particularly they presented their parents turbulent marriage as the union of two noble souls. on the other hand, this biography is not as didactic as you might think from that description. it is very hard to make julia ward howe sound old. in fact, when it came out apart from the-- here we go apart from
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the pulitzer prize, a critic in the north american review was kind of puzzled by that biography because he said he had never-- he could not quite get that a portrait of such a distinguished american, distinguished woman somehow failed to develop that unity, that epic quality, which distinguish the greatest biography and i think i unity he met a consistent personality of the central figure and julius personality, was not totally consistent with what people thought of as heroic. the reviewer went on to say her life was a blending of saintliness and frisky this. the study love of virtue and the recurrent bond or jewelry. the deepest intellectual interest in the capacity for joy is nonsense. julia loved shopping and fashion and parties.
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you get why i was very attracted to her as a subject for a biography. now, shaping the lives of women who lived a kind of public life, to display at the quality was a real challenge for the 20th century and it wasn't until 1989, that another biography of a woman by woman won the pulitzer prize for biography. it took long whopper number one to turn up and in the middle of the century of how mostly appeared in a series of popular books about the childhood of famous americans, some of you may remember they had orange covers. they were sort of all lined up in the library and julia appeared as a gullible new york in a story mostly invented, but very inspiring. in the 1940s, she was also hailed in the wonder woman comics as a 19th century amazon figure.
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finally, in 1979, there was a vermont historian, a distant relative of the family published the first modern biography, my eyes have seen the glory. clifford was the first one who looked at the howe family archives and they are massive. i mean, there are huge and she was the first car to look at them and she revealed some of the facts about this really disastrous marriage. then, in the 1970s the whole concept of women's bar to be changed is the women's movement developed and carolyn in a book she wrote called writing a woman's life posted a lot of questions and said this is very little of what a woman's biography should look like. do you begin with her disappointment she was not a boy how does she cope with the fact that her value is determined by how attractive than fighter? if she marriage-- mary's, does she have a successful marriage?
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and what is a successful marriage look like from a woman's point of view, so i went i went to do with this book was bring julia ward howe a lot for a new generation of it-- readers and consider these questions and embrace the contradictions that made her saintly frisky. i especially wanted to think about her marriage as a domestic civil war, a battle for imaginative dominance going on between two strong people. in my pattern about her life, she was fighting for her independence from the bonds of matrimony at the same time that she was fighting slavery and her liberation coincided with the end of the civil war. now something a bit about the marriage, she married doctor samuel how when she was 22 and it seems like the ideal match. he was said to be the handsomest man of austin. he was a foot taller than she was. he was 18 years old or.
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and after medical school, he had followed his hero-- sorry, i'm going to have to cough again. i've had a terrible cold all week. he followed by rain to greece, and he became a hero of the greek revolution for independence against the turks. in the 1830s he went back to boston and immediately became the first director of the perkins institution for the blind. a world famous pioneer of education for the blind and deaf and later he became really a champion in the abolitionist movement, but unfortunately, although he was a champion of the oppressed, in every area from the handicapped to the
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slave, chef, which is what she called him, after he came back from greece and it's ironic that after this six years of revolution greece ended up with a prussian king. the king bestowed upon him an honorary try to-- title, so she always called him shove. he insisted married men should be totally fulfilled by their homes in children and they should not be-- speak in public. he was quite a brilliant man in many ways. use a difficult husband. he decided where they would live and you adopt an especially when he wanted to punish her said they had to live in the perkins institution, which was a big drafty marble formal hotel in south boston 2 miles from the center of the city. kick took control of her income from her brother and uncles and lost almost all of it in real
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estate-- real estate. more seriously for her he forbade her to publish her poetry or teach to lecture or preach or otherwise act in the public sphere. it was his idea to have six children and he would have insisted on eight children except that their youngest son died and broke their hearts, so they decided to stop at six. shev was a bossy men, strange man and makes a wonderful villain and one of my challenges was to imagine the marriage from his perspective. i didn't want to make it just a classic million and it really is a challenge for biographers because julia was close to her two sisters annie at and louisa and she wrote to them enormous letters about her feelings and what was going on in the marriage. shev had varies close male friends especially charles sumner who is famously being up on the floor of the senate, but
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he did not discuss his marriage except in generic terms and we don't know too much and hers were developers going on and i was talking last week in a boston bookstore about this and i met for the first time jim trent who is the biographer of shev. it was interesting to me. we were not like attorneys in a divorce case, i have to tell you. i have learned a lot from his biography. it's a terrific book. it was interesting as the biographer of the white-- wife to meet the biographer of the husband and i noticed differences between us kirk first of all in life story of a prominent man the wife often lays a small part. there are only a handful of references to julia in jim trent biography of shev. on the other hand, the husband of a prominent woman is central to her life story and i wrote a lot about him in my book and the second difference i noticed is
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that jim's biography is called the manliest man, which is what -- how he was described by his friends. the way he was seen by his contemporaries and the way he saw himself and for a while i thought about calling my auger feet below manliest woman, but i gave up on that because first of all i think it's a very diminishing title for a woman. really, julie did not see herself as a paragon of femininity at all and as a child a nano lesson justice carolyn said she often wished she had been a boy and was envious of her brothers and in the first decade of her marriage she actually tried to write a book about a creature of both sexes who was experiencing life as a man as a woman. this extraordinary manuscript that she never showed to anyone is at the library at harvard and
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we know about it because of the high road scholarship of a small number of house specialists, mainly gary williams who edited it and publish it. there's gary. gary williams is the first house colorado format. we met in london some years ago and he is one of the most generous and i'm delighted he's here tonight. this is the book, the hermaphrodite published by the university of nebraska and has a very sexy cover and we really go everything we know about it to gary. and thinking about that marriage of the house i was also influenced by a wonderful book called parallel lives, which some of you may know which looked at the political dynamics of five victorian marriages. rose argues that marriage is a political negotiation. it's a story with two points of view, often deeply in conflict,
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sometimes luckily conflict and i tried to see the howe as writing and living to separate parallel stories and tried best i could to figure out what was going on in shev's head at the time julia was writing to her sister's. he held most of the cards, but julia and i went to be clear about this, she's not totally evict them and was capable of fighting back and in fact, a woman who can write always has a weapon against a domineering husband. first book of poems, passion flowers, i think our her personal battle him and a revenge broke. i want to read this little bit for my book. this was about julia when she was working on passion flowers in the fall of 1853. she decided to write this book
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with the advice of longfellow, who was one of shev's best friend who also kept a secret and many of the poems were about the marriage. they were very strong. so, all of that fall she was thinking she would keep it a secret from shev and not tell him she was writing this book and not publishing it. as she rode to annie: i have a great mind to keep the whole matter entirely from him and not let him know any thing until the morning the volume comes out. then, he can do nothing to prevent this sale and proffer form. could one do this? he has known all summer i intended publishing and has made no objection and not much comments. now, shev, disapproved of the women publishing, married women publishing and he had the power to prevent her from making the work public, but he also knew she had little sympathy with poetry.
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she thought he really did not understand poetry and he would not get with the problems were about. so, his lack of interest made her feel it was safer to go ahead with publication. in any case, it was very important for her pride not to seek his permission to write her to publish. towards the end of the-- december, the proofs arrived and checking them was unexpectedly taxing and she complained to annie about it. the endless of looking over these proof sheets, rhymes and expressions, tomorrow i my last proof in a fortnight must be allowed for drying and binding, then i shall be out fairly all, do you hear. so far my secret has been pretty well-kept. my book is to very simple title, passion flowers. without my name, according to
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longfellow's advice, longfellow has been reading a part of the volume and says it will make a sensation. shev knows nothing as of yet. i feel much excited, quite unsettled even a little frantic. if i succeed i shall be humbled by my happiness and now i will not write any more about it. that was some christmas at the house. [laughter] passion flowers change the balance of how marriage in both directions really and changed julie's ideas. it tells this whole story in the book, but it was pretty intense and then the civil war also changed 19th century ideals of the ideals of many women and
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changed the assumption. it propels women out of domestic defined and public lives and careers and at the end of the civil war in 1865, juliet made up her mind she would no longer follow were shibley behind shevitz, but debit-- dedicated her life as she had dedicated his to the highest needs of humanity. in fact, on their 22nd anniversary in 1865, she decided to go and speak to the women prisoners at the penitentiary instead of celebrating that event. a pretty strong gesture. as she approached her 50th birthday in 1869, she had a vision of a new world of womanhood. during the first two thirds of my life, she recalled, i looked at the masculine ideal of character as the only true one and in an unexpected hour a new
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light came to me, the world of womanhood. this discovery was like the addition of a new continent to the map of the world. her true mission became woman suffrage. she went on the road with the suffragist. she never stopped traveling, writing, speaking and working for women's rights. in her pretty lace designed by one of her son-in-law's, she became known as the dearest old lady in america. but, that is not how she saw herself at all. she refused to be stuck in the 19th century. on her 91st birthday, she told an interviewer that her advice to american women was, the up-to-date. [laughter] >> that's on the m&ms, i think, maybe. readily, she was up to date herself and took very readily to the telephone, the typewriter, the phonograph, the automobile
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and especially the elevator including when the children had installed in her house so she could send divinely to the upper story. she entertained to the horror of the boston brahmin's who wrote about in newspaper she wrote back i will as to dinner anyone i like. she took two walks a day until she was 91. she ate what she damn please, including fried food, mince pie and champagne and two weeks before she died she would have to get an honorary degree from smith. of course, there is everywhere she went they sang the battle hymn of the republic. julia ward howe never achieved the level of unity of relentless cheerfulness, unselfishness, piety and austerity that society still demands from its female worthies. she remained an unsettling mixture of saintliness and frisky with, but she did not mind.
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as she declared, i do not desire ecstatic disembodied sainthood. i do not wish to advocate any one of the attributes of my humanity. i cherish even that infirmity that bind me to my kind. i would be human and american and a woman. these are words, i think, for a biographer to live by and glory glory hallelujah for that. [applause]. >> if anyone has questions, i would love to hear them. >> if you could make your way to a microphone, that would be great, if you are trapped in middle i can hand to this microphone. >> how long did she live after her husband died? >> they were married for 33 years and she lived 34 years
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after his death scene and how did her life train-- change? >> tremendously, one of the first thing that happened-- while he was dying they seemed like they had a reconciliation and she says in her journal, she said i had my double bed moved into his room. that separate rooms for i don't know how long and she moved the double bed in the room with his double bed and in the last few days they shared confidences and she thought it was wonderful ending, but a few days after she died they read the wheel and he left her nothing in the will and not only did he leave her nothing in the will, but he said in the will: to my wife i leave nothing because she is so capable of taking care of herself. of course, he had spent all of her inheritance. she came here she had inherited a six of this will show the father that owned all of midtown manhattan, so when she married him she was really a harris and
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he lost it all, so she had tiny little income left and basically from the moment she had to support herself pretty much until the end of her life and eventually her son helped out her daughters helped out, so she was not only on the road for women's suffrage, she lectured everywhere and wrote for money and you did not get much money for lecturing or writing. she was pretty active. on the other hand, she liked it. she was unable to do things she had always dreamed of being and we used to say in the women's movement, she became the man she married or to put it another way you marry the man you want to be and after his death she became a public figure as he had been. he was a famous speaker and traveler, sushi in some ways took his life on. she was very happy. she traveled all of the world.
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in the age before jets, i mean, doing this on steamships, everywhere. she went around the world twice. she went to england like we go to new york, supreme a's in. thanks for the question. >> hello. i'm really looking forward to reading your book because i know very little about her. i just kind of glanced. on italian-american, and i found you had something on italian immigrants that aside from being a suffrage and an abolitionist, on page 236 she said she became involved with new social issues including the abolition of the death penalty, protection of italian immigrants, indian affairs, comite harris strikes and the rebellion of the armenian against the turks. she took these positions, but how-- i mean, did she take these positions and publicize them
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through writing? did anyone listen to her? >> yes, they did especially in boston, where she became really eight great public citizen. mostly towards the end of her life. she wrote a lot and traveled late in life. she was making national tours and did a lot of speaking on the west coast. she used to go to the massachusetts state house regularly when the legislature was in session and it should address them. she was very busy. she opposed lynching. she really was committed to all social issues at the turn-of-the-century and there were a lot. >> my second question since no one is behind me is did you access the houghton materials at harvard for this book? >> yes, but not all of them. i could not have done it except that many other scholars had been there by that time before me and published.
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it is enormous. really. i don't know how long it would take any single scholar no matter how dedicated because it is so fast. the howe family was a big family work if the whole family. samuel isn't it, also picked the sisters and brothers and aunts and relatives, but i did read it and of course she had terrible handwriting. stacy shift said there were a couple things you should keep in mind when you decide whose biography to write and the first is that penmanship. julia did not win them penmanship prize, let me tell you. that was my big mistake, but i did look at them and my husband came with a. i couldn't and then it without him and and we sat in library and i read juliet and he read shev and we exchanged back and forth. >> did she adhere to any particular religion?
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>> yes. she went to several-- she was very very very adjusted in religion. i would say more than devoutly religious. she was interested theology and was a lifelong fascination of hers. she was brought up in the calvinist household and she really rebelled against a that. but, her salvation was that she came of age during the great age of transcendentalism. she very quickly through them became interested in the unitarian church and she was really a unitarian for most of her life. she wed rightly in all religious traditions and is said that the reason for her conversion is she was reading something, i think in an essay and she said she was
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suddenly struck by the fact that the goddess she was worshiping must be the same as the god of the japanese and this is the sort of cultural religious comparison. she had never thought of that before when that i did hit her and her whole idea religion changed, but she preached often, also. especially when she was traveling and she traveled a lot in central america in the caribbean and when she was there she would often take the opportunity to preach in a local church. so, her religious writings are extensive, but i did not really deal with it in this book. >> following up on that,-- i'm over here. >> yes. >> i forgot this until you start talking about this, but there is an interesting mention in the book of her when she is in rome studying or meeting with a rather and learning hebrew,
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which was interesting, i thought >> she was a great linguist. she learned greek when she was 50. her idea of a real great afternoon was to read greek. [laughter] >> she knew six leverages and when she was in rome she found a rabbi and the gato, she said he was in the ghetto in the 1850s and he came to tutor her in hebrew, very remarkable. she was very interested in religion, generally. she was not at all anti- somatic and there was no trace of it. on the other hand, she spent quite a lot of time in rome and did not like the catholic church , did not like what she saw. it was not a particularly good period of the catholic church and was just after the revolution, the failed revolutions in italy and she was externally cynical, but everywhere she went she was fascinated and she traveled a lot in the middle east. she went to harems and was
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interested in islam, everything was intellectually fascinating with her. >> you have to read the book, though, to know what else she founded rome. i won't comment. >> did she have anti--- any interactions at all with emily dickinson? >> none. as far as i can tell, she never read a word by emily dickinson, but emily dickinson only published seven poems during her lifetime took emily dickinson's poems were not published until close to the end of the 19th century and as far as i can tell julia never read any of them. she did read whitman which is interesting because she was exactly the same age as whitman and in the book i talk about the way that the odds were so much against a 19th century american women poets. she is the same age as whitman
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and they both go up in new york and the same age at teenagers he was running around totally free. he said going to the theater every day and every night, taking everything in and she was not allowed out of the house without an enormous number of chaperones. she was not even allowed to go to the theater. so different. i mean, the range experience he was able to draw on and when she -- women towards the end of 19th century got interested in reading this and she do not like it very much. she did read more experimental european portrait in for life and she took to that. i don't know what she would have made of emily dickinson. fascinating to think of. emily dickinson is the one really important woman, american woman poet of the 19th century work which meant i think is the one important mail poetry of 19th century. not a good century for poetry because they were so restricted by piety and their sense that
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poetry was a serious business and you had to use a certain kind of vocabulary and she uses often though-- vocabulary me thinks, that no one ever talks. she could write in that the nokia layers at her best poems are like that and the battle him , i think and the reason it's such a good poem is because she was writing to music, the rhythm forced her to use a more forthright direct vocabulary and much more emphatic and the only real archaism in the battle him is mine eyes and that's biblical. there's a lot of biblical language, but there isn't this weird semi- medievalism as in other things and if she had read dickinson so direct and inaccurate it would have changed , you only wish it could happen. but, no. >> how did her children view her and how did she view her children?
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>> she really adored her children and they adored her. she had not planned to have six children and she's pretty outspoken about this to her sisters. every pregnancy when she finds out she is pregnant and she has names for the children while she is pregnant. i will call this one dolores and stuff like that. when they were born, she adored them, of the course and they adored her. they said she was a wonderful mother, very playful and imaginative and engaged in their games and he was, also. they were good parents and made a good parenting team, so when the children grow up and wrote the biography and they actually read her diaries and they read the letters and they found out what she said-- they could not really believe this they had to smooth it out in the biography, but they really did not believe
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in any way. they had their own image and the think it could have been true picked a really adored each other. maybe a little trouble here and there. they said it was the marriage of two very turbulent people, but they really adored each other. interestingly, they grew up in one of the sons died as a young child. one of the daughters died, so she had three surviving daughters and one son and the son became a very distinguished scientist and when they grew up it was the daughter she was close to. the sun, in some ways is really a lot like shev. he had a career a lot like shev and was always getting honors from international bodies or something, but he was-- the relationship was not that close. very very close to the daughters
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and the daughters were all wonderful writers. laura, the oldest wrote 90 books. amazing. in those days they could really turn them out. florence, the second one not as much, but quite prolific and very entertaining writer and mod, that youngest also wrote a number of books. they always-- look down on mod because they thought she was spoiled and frivolous and eventually she became a art historian and moved to newport, shirt-- where she was quite a revered citizen of the town. >> you said that her plays were disasters. >> yes. >> was that deservedly so i wish you had her time or was the subject matter not one--
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>> it's interesting. i don't think the plays are that good, but i'm not sure. they were into categories. some of them were just so cerebral you could not imagine making a play out of them. when she was a young girl she was trying to make a play out of the rise and fall of the roman empire and stuff like that. [laughter] >> she did write a play after passion flowers during a time where in principle she was not supposed to publish anything, but she did. she wrote this play, which was actually produced in new york, which was the kind of melodrama set in italy and i have to say i have lost the title of it right now, but it opened in new york and ran for about a week. the new york critics hated it and thought it was the most scandalous and kind of
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incoherent. there are scholars now who disagree and think it's actually an interesting play. her brother, sam ward, who was able lobbyist in washington, the king of the lobby that they called him was her greatest supporter and he thought it was terrific. not very many other people did. then, she was trying to write a play and she worked on it for a long time in her dream was to have edwin booth play and then there was that assassination and then there was another incredible thing. they were very close friends to edwin booth who went to boston and they went to most all of his performances and when they found out john wilkes booth had killed lincoln, i mean, they were in double morning, the whole town. edwin booth stayed off the stage for a long time and that kind of fell apart.
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>> how many of her works either place or poetry had her name on it at the time of their publication? >> that's an interesting question. i think by the end of her life, probably several did because a lot of them were reprints and collected poems and so on. in the early part of her life, the first two were anonymous. then, they would be published by the author of, sort of thing. by the end of her life they did have her name on them. sadly, and i think inevitably, the poetry really decline towards the end because after passion flowers, shev really cracked down and any kind of
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growth that she was developing as a poet and i think she was really talented and gifted as a poet, but i don't she had any chance to develop that gift. he really cracked down in terms of subject matter. she really didn't know any poets. i mean, if she had known emily dickinson, can you imagine what might have happened next the poets she knew in boston were very genteel poets and no one really reads them anymore either. she didn't know anyone who was challenging her and she certainly did know any other women who were writing poetry and by the end of her life these books were coming out with her name on them and they were still getting reviewed, but even the critics were saying, she has become the-- one review i just read, she has become the average poet. someone who started out incredibly unconventional and exciting and new and it's not there anymore. .com. i think what also happened is that when after the end of the
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civil war she decided she was going to go out and have a public life. poetry became less interesting to her. a lot of women in the 19th century both in england and america and other places, also, turned to writing, sometimes fiction, sometimes poetry because they were barred from all the other professions. i think julia ward howe would have made a great professor. she was a intellectual. she would've been great professor at harvard or something like that, but it was totally impossible. harvard did not give women tenure until the 1970s. so, that was out. a lawyer, a politician, anything like that, administer, which she was attracted to but none of those things were opened-- to her, so poetry was the channel into which they pour their anger and creativity and intellect and i think she herself realized it
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and in fact she said at a certain point i will never be a great poets. this is not the way i'm going to fulfill myself, but i think i'm a good speaker and she went on the road and a she worked hard at it and she said she got the other suffrages to teach her how to talk to a room of angry people, which she encountered often. how to deal with roughnecks insulting them and throwing things at them, i mean, all these kinds of things. she got very good at this as a speaker and that was really fulfilling to her. so, the end of her life, think she thought she really found her rotation doing that and she never stopped and the poetry really trailed on. she continued to write comment poetry and i think some of it is really very funny, but none of those were published during her lifetime. >> this suspicion that she was the author or people just did not know who wrote these? >> i should've said that, yeah, the book came out and it was
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published anonymously, but it was boston. boston was a pretty small town. everyone knew like in a week who it was. she told shev and if there is no record in her letters or his of that conversation, which must have been really something, but everyone in boston new. it's created an incredible sensation. some people were very shocked. hawthorne, who was in england at the time, he was a consult in liverpool, but he got the book from his publisher and hawthorne said i think it is one of the most outstanding american books of the time. she said it along with walden, the rose walden. this is one of the tube books i would recommend to someone wanted to read american literature, but he said she should be ripped for writing it.
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[laughter] >> that was kind of the general opinion, so it was really scandalous. particularly, women she knew and her women friends were hostile to it, also. >> any other questions? one more question. here you go. >> you have talked a lot about her closeness and writing to her sisters, could you say if he thinks quickly about her more intimate circle of female friendships? >> well, that is interesting. when she was growing up, she didn't have any really close female friends until she was almost 20 years old. that was because her father who was very much of a strict calvinist, he felt that society was a temptation to sin and since they had some a brothers and and cousins they should only
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makes within the family and they lived in a kind of family compound in new york. the house they lived in eventually was sold became brooks brothers, which i thought was appropriate. they lived in a fabulous mansion she was not able to mix with other girls socially and she never knew any other young women she felt a great loss and then in her 20s after her father died she made her first woman friend who remained her friend for the rest of her life and who lived in boston and they met in newport in the summer. that was a tremendous boom to her. they shared so much and it was mary boone who introduced her to -- gray who introduced her to that transcendentalist and who supported her at every juncture
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in her life. so, that was tremendous. she really didn't have that many close friends. she had a lot of women friends in boston, but they were not close. she found boston a very chilly town socially. ..
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and how wonderful it was to her, how enriching and how enabling them how much fun and how to break it. no matter how bad the weather and how terrible the suit, whatever it was, traveling with mary made it okay. >> we have time for one more question. if there's no takers i will ask it, but i'm happy to have somebody from the audience raised a hand. i feel like an action near. my question then again i don't want to give away too much of the book because there's so many new one isn't interested to the relationships in the book, which is one of the things i love so much about it, but the relationship and this kind effort priced sexuality and romance and i wonder if you would dare speculate if they lived in a more tolerant time or they could be that they really were, who would they have been?
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he met the idea what it had elizabeth browning and robert browning who she knew. she was very jealous about the plan. that was the model for her. she knew a lot of women in an who in principle had very companion as marriages. but as it turned out i don't know how much she knew at the time other than the spirit lucy stone, for example, she thought that's a wonderful marriage. it was not such a great marriage. but the problems really have to marry she wanted and he totally supported her and it was very romantic and he was very done and it seems like the perfect match. it could've been very interesting. he was certainly the most exciting man who came across her path. she was about 22 to marry him
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but was quite old for that. beard he was definitely the most suitable person. they should have been perfect. the beginning of the honeymoon, although they run a steamship, sounded like it started pretty well. i think it has to be blamed mainly on him. she was so much younger, so inexperienced to certain ways and he was such a workaholic. and then she started having all these babies. it is impossible to know potentially what could have been between them is they are inept electric. you imagine a parallel life, and other plays, and other time but they could then. they could have been one of great romantic couples of history. >> it was the reason he was still a bachelor at 42, right?
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he goes off to greece and it's not really -- >> there's a lot of speculation about their sexuality. he was very attached to his male friends and notably i'm interested in women. he was in greece for six years and passed up on the temptations are pretty much all of them. it was not even interested particularly. and there's some speculation that most of this emotional feelings were directed towards men and especially charles shoffner and kerry has written about that. it's hard to be sure. i think charles sumner was much more likely to have been sunday. he didn't get married until he was in his 50s.
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they used to say he isn't going to get married because he doesn't want to make any woman a slave. his marriage lasted a very short time. his wife ran off with somebody else. but i think at the used if anything. they didn't feel these feelings or wishes they had a lock on the web. his letters to sumner are very passionate and emotional and intimate and they were very, very close. he doesn't write like that to julia at all. it's not fair for him with women. i don't think he was incapable of it. through the end of his life, people think he told her he had been having affairs.
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i'm not sure about that either. it sounds like a day but you don't really know. the letters were all destroyed so you don't know what happened. if they were affairs, they must've been pretty limited. his sexuality i think women to his work. >> you can tell this is an incredibly fascinating story. very fascinating momentum very fascinating people around her. we have copies of the book. the land will be happy to sign up here. thank you very much. thank you offer coming out today. [applause] if you don't mind folding up your chairs and putting them to the site, you will make our staff there a happy. thank you. [applause]
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>> the right that we are in today, which has profound implications around the world, a bad economy fleet of that politics good we see that everywhere around the world. it comes from the state via the nice thing about policy errors as they can be corrected. that is why we wrote the book revived in america. there's obviously a lot of other things that have to be done, but you have to have priorities. so we prioritize on health care, on a new tax code and getting our monetary system back on track for the first time in almost half a century. >> retired army colonel patrick murray, why did you write a book? >> guest: peter, i spent 25 years in the army and a summer to do that and then i ran for congress afterwards you does my proverbial look behind the
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curtain and it scared me straight with the look of our political system. when you look at polls come in three quarters of americans are unhappy with the direction their country is going. and i is a constitutional conservative count myself as one of those. i believe that comes from the fact that our founders set up the system with the individual has the starring role and government plays a supporting role. this sort of flipped on its head in that lead me to title of the book, "government is the problem." i believe
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