AHEAD OF HER TIME

ABBY KELLEY AND THE POLITICS OF ANTISLAVERY

From Sterling (ed., We Are Your Sisters, 1983), a full-scale biography that reveals the pioneering spirit of an early feminist and abolitionist. Abby Kelley (1811-87)—``the moral Joan of Arc of the world,'' according to William Lloyd Garrison—initiated the women's rights movement in this country but chose antislavery as her priority. As lecture agent, main organizer, and chief fund-raiser for the American Anti-Slavery Society, she established a network of regional abolitionist newspapers and local antislavery societies in the North and West. At numerous conventions and meetings, Kelley and her abolitionist husband, Stephen Foster, spoke before ``promiscuous audiences''—men and women. The Fosters denounced the constitution as a proslavery document and worked with ex-slaves Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth and feminists Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucy Stone. They deplored the ``Slave Power'' interests of the Mexican War and used their Massachusetts home as a station on the Underground Railroad. When the Civil War erupted, Kelley urged emancipation as a war goal and demanded that slaves have full equality, land, and the vote. A dynamic political force, Kelley and her ``Abby Kelleyites'' lobbied for the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments even as Kelley courageously suffered a two-year illness, the loss of all her teeth, failing eyesight, and a dangerous operation for ovarian cancer. Though Kelley left little source material, Sterling has combed through hundreds of contemporary letters and newspaper articles to flesh out her human side. The plethora of conventions, meetings, and lectures occasionally slows the pace but underscores the commitment of a unique woman whose role in history has been neglected, Sterling says, by the bias of male historians and by suffragettes who felt Kelley should have pushed for a Fifteenth Amendment that included, in addition to voting rights for nonwhites, suffrage for women. A serviceable biography adding to the lore of a difficult period of growth in US history. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 1991

ISBN: 0-393-03026-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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