Author Rebecca Behrens is here today at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia with a guest post about famous women in history for Women's History Month. First Daughter Alice Roosevelt is a character in her debut middle grade novel When Audrey Met Alice. When Audrey Met Alice was released on February 4, 2014 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Check out the end of the post for the chance to win a copy!
In writing When Audrey Met Alice, I loved getting to explore the eventful life of the real Alice Roosevelt. My favorite thing about writing historical fiction is delving into the lives of real, and sometimes famous, women like Alice. Here are a few more historical women whom I find particularly fascinating:
- Sacagawea: We know a lot about Lewis's and Clark's lives, but frustratingly little about the teenager who helped make it possible for them to reach the Pacific Ocean. Sacagawea was the daughter of a Shoshone chief, but she was kidnapped at age ten and later married to a French trader, Charbonneau. She was pregnant with their child during the Lewis and Clark expedition, giving birth at the winter camp with a rattlesnake-tail concoction to ease the pain. An interpreter and the only woman in the permanent party, Sacagawea helped negotiate peacefully with the tribes they met on their journey—including one led by her long-lost brother.
- Nellie Bly: Nellie was the 19th-century journalist who famously traveled around the entire world in 72 days—at a time when most women wouldn’t do solo travel anywhere. She’s less famous for some of her investigative journalism, but it’s just as impressive. In 1887 she took on an undercover assignment for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, in which she faked a mental breakdown to get admitted to the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island in New York. She spent ten days in the hospital, successfully convincing all the clinicians that she was mad—and once she got out, she wrote a scathing expose of the abusive and negligent care women were receiving there. Her reporting was turned into the sensational book Ten Days in a Mad-House.
- Jackie Mitchell: Do you know who struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig during one exhibition game in 1931? A seventeen-year-old girl named Jackie Mitchell. She was playing for the Chattanooga Lookouts, a minor-league team that offered her a contract after seeing her pitch for a local women’s team. There is plenty of controversy about her striking out two of the greatest players in history—some think it may have been a publicity stunt. Regardless, it’s amazing to think of a teen girl pitcher leading to Babe Ruth being pulled off the field in a hissy fit. The baseball commissioner canceled her contract shortly after, saying that the sport was “too strenuous” for women, but Jackie continued playing ball until 1937. Women were officially banned from signing baseball contracts in 1952.
- Julia Child: Julia brought the art of French cooking into countless American homes. But before she made her career in a (custom-designed, thanks to her height) kitchen, she was a spy! Too tall to enlist in the army, she joined the OSS (an intelligence agency that preceded the CIA). While later in her life she’d downplay her role as being that of a administrative clerk, her husband and others have confirmed that she oversaw information, much of it classified—and that her work was sometimes risky.
- Jane Goodall: As a child, Jane’s father gave her a toy chimpanzee, Jubilee. It sparked her interest in and love of animals. Jane went on to become an expert primatologist, and now knows more than probably anyone on earth about chimpanzees. She completed a famous 45-year study on chimpanzee social and family life at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, sharing with the world that other primates can show the personality, emotions, and rational thought that humans do. Today she advocates for animal rights and the environment through the Jane Gooddall Institute. And she still keeps her toy chimpanzee, Jubilee, on her dresser.
Thanks so much for sharing the stories of those women (and girls!) with us, Rebecca! I'll look forward to seeing if any of them make an appearance in your next book. And now... a giveaway!
Would you like to win a copy of When Audrey Met Alice? I'm offering one finished copy to a lucky winner. To enter, simply fill out the FORM. Giveaway open internationally, will close on Monday, March 31st at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be notified via email. Good luck!
Audrey is ready to give up and become a White House hermit, until she discovers Alice Roosevelt's hidden diary. The former first daughter gives Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun...and more problems than she can handle.