Thursday, December 16, 2010

Heaven’s Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock

From Killing the Buddha, comes this interesting article "The Sexologist's Secret":
In Heaven’s Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr and Madwoman, Leigh Eric Schmidt gives us a story of high tragedy and heart-breaking ridiculousness, set at the crossroads of religion and sexuality in late Victorian America.

Born in 1857 in Philadelphia and raised in comfortable circumstances by her widowed mother, Craddock was a precocious student—by the time she finished high school she had a working knowledge of Greek, Latin, French, German, and Italian. She hoped to become the University of Pennsylvania’s first female matriculant, but after passing its entrance exams with flying colors—“four days of written examinations on ancient and modern geography, mathematics, English grammar and composition, Latin grammar and hexameter verse, and Greek grammar and prose composition … followed by a fifth day for an oral examination on Cicero’s orations and Horace’s odes”—she was rejected by the board of trustees three times, even after Susan B. Anthony took up her cause. Instead of the important academic career she’d dreamed of, she taught stenography at Girard College, a charity school for orphans. (She would publish two textbooks on the subject, Primary Phonography: An Introduction to Isaac Pitman’s System of Phonetic Shorthand and Intermediate or Full Phonography.)

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