Monday, July 30, 2012

Anonymous in Their Own Names

From We-enews:
Edward L. Bernays, Heywood Broun and Harold Ross have long been lauded as media innovators, their accomplishments chronicled in hundreds of articles and books. With very few exceptions, though, writers have failed to recognize a fundamental reason for the success of these three remarkable media ventures: each man had an uncredited collaborator.

"Anonymous in Their Own Names" consists of separate but intertwined biographies of these three women whose work was invisible in their own time and has remained invisible to countless authors who have detailed their husbands' accomplishments but could not "see" the crucial contributions of their wives.
Their invisibility is ironic given that they were feminists who kept their birth names when they married as a sign of their equality with their husbands and repeatedly battled the government and societal norms to continue using their names.
Still, they carried out their most important work anonymously--masked by their husbands' fame, which they helped create.

From the Publisher - Vanderbilt University Press:
Anonymous in Their Own Names recounts the lives of three women who, while working as their husbands' uncredited professional partners, had a profound and enduring impact on the media in the first half of the twentieth century. With her husband, Edward L. Bernays, Doris E. Fleischman helped found and form the field of public relations. Ruth Hale helped her husband, Heywood Broun, become one of the most popular and influential newspaper columnists of the 1920s and 1930s. In 1925 Jane Grant and her husband, Harold Ross, started the New Yorker magazine.

Yet these women's achievements have been invisible to countless authors who have written about their husbands. This invisibility is especially ironic given that all three were feminists who kept their birth names when they married as a sign of their equality with their husbands, then battled the government and societal norms to retain their names. Hale and Grant so believed in this cause that in 1921 they founded the Lucy Stone League to help other women keep their names, and Grant and Fleischman revived the league in 1950. This was the same year Grant and her second husband, William Harris, founded White Flower Farm, pioneering at that time and today one of the country's most celebrated commercial nurseries.

Despite strikingly different personalities, the three women were friends and lived in overlapping, immensely stimulating New York City circles. Susan Henry explores their pivotal roles in their husbands' extraordinary success and much more, including their problematic marriages and their strategies for overcoming barriers that thwarted many of their contemporaries.

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