Feminize Your Canon: Mary Heaton Vorse

Our column Feminize Your Canon explores the lives of underrated and underread female authors. Originally begun by Emma Garman, it will now be written by Joanna Scutts. Mary Heaton Vorse, prolific novelist, journalist, and labor activist, spent most of her long life trying to escape her upper-middle-class origins. The heroine of her 1918 novel ’ calls the inescapability of a bourgeois upbringing life’s “blue serge lining”—a reference to the practical fabric that protected the inside of coats.

The Radical Roots of Emma Watson’s ‘Self-Partnership’

Most reactions to Watson’s “self-partnering” framed it as a slightly silly term for a personal choice. But it’s more than that. In her Vogue interview, Watson pointed to the “bloody influx of subliminal messaging” — in advertising, media, and society at large — telling women they are incomplete by themselves. This messaging is deliberate and well-entrenched: As much as we like to pretend otherwise, we haven’t yet fully exorcised the patriarchal ghosts that peg a woman’s existence to that of her father or husband. To overtly reject this — to, yes, “self-partner” — is, quietly, a radical act.

The Women Who Showed Us Life

At the entrance to the new exhibition at the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History looms a photograph that is oddly abstract and resolutely concrete, a row of conical towers forming part of the hulking Fort Peck Dam in Montana. The photograph covered the first issue of LIFE in 1936 and was captured by Margaret Bourke-White, the first and best known of the handful of female photojournalists on the magazine’s staff.

History—and a Glimmer of Hope—in a Whiskey Glass

JUST AFTER FIVE O’CLOCK in the morning on April 18, 1906, what came to be known as the San Francisco earthquake trembled down the coast from southern Oregon to Los Angeles and inland as far as Nevada. “Rumors of great disaster from an earthquake in San Francisco, but know nothing of real facts,” President Roosevelt wrote anxiously to the Governor of California, eager for some solid ground to stand upon. There was no reply.

Helen Gurley Brown's Quest for Glamour, Sex and Power

What would Helen Gurley Brown, determined fabricator of her own life story, have made of Enter Helen, a new biography by Brooke Hauser that takes an affectionate but unvarnished look at her long tenure as editor of Cosmopolitan magazine? She’d have loved it, declared Barbara Hustedt Crook, one of HGB’s original Cosmo staffers, at an event last night to celebrate the book and its subject, at Brooklyn’s Powerhouse Arena. “She never liked a puff piece – and she liked a zippy read.”

The Depression Era’s Magic Bullet For Weight Loss

Recently, the New York Times published a sobering story on the alumni of the 2009 season of The Biggest Loser. A study showed that almost all of those who had publicly lost hundreds of pounds on the show’s punishing diet and exercise regime had gained nearly all of it back, unless they made staying slim the focus of every waking moment. Their resting metabolism, it turned out, had been broken down to a murmur by the weight loss.

Inside 1930s Designer Dorothy Draper's Riotously Colorful World

A century ago, your average Upper East Side society matron was not expected to do a great deal more with her day—or her life—than entertain other society matrons, support the odd artist or charity, and in a hands-off sort of way, raise a few heirs. Dorothy Tuckerman Draper was far from the average Upper East Side society matron. Tall, beautiful and unflaggingly confident, she set up her own interior design business in 1925 and a decade later was on her way to being the most famous decorator, if not the most famous businesswoman, in America.

Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying

A little girl wearing fairy wings twirled in a photo booth rigged up next to the New Releases table. Across town, a bookseller set cans of beer, donated from a local brewery, to chill in a tub of ice. Balloons tied to chalk boards proclaimed Saturday, May 2 Independent Bookstore Day: the first national celebration of this surprisingly buoyant industry. On Twitter and Instagram, shoppers showed off their literary hauls so enthusiastically that for a few hours the hashtag #Bookstoreday was trendin

The True Story of Rupert Brooke

April 23rd 2015 marks a hundred years since the death of Rupert Brooke, who for most of the past century has ranked among Britain’s best-known and most beloved cultural figures. A poet of the First World War who never saw action, he is famous mainly for one sonnet, “The Soldier,” from a sequence of five, and then mainly for its opening lines: “If I should die, think only this of me:/ That there’s some corner of a foreign field/ That is forever England."

Gentlemen For Rent

Cities like New York have a way of coming up with solutions—skyscrapers, doormen, take-out coffee, laundry delivery, human rickshaws—to problems that they create themselves. In the late nineteen-thirties, as the city was gearing up to show off its forward-looking technological ingenuity at the World’s Fair, a problem that it hadn’t solved was what to do about unaccompanied women—both those who lived and worked in the city and those who would be visiting to stroll through the “World of Tomorrow.”
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