THE VIXENS: A Biography of Victoria and Tennessee Claflin by James Brough

THE VIXENS: A Biography of Victoria and Tennessee Claflin

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Appalling--not a biography but a kind of slangy screenplay, based on history but padded with reams of imaginary dialogue that ranges from vulgar to excruciating. The Claflin sisters led such colorful, hectic lives, however, that even this shabby account has a certain interest. Victoria (1838-1927), better known under her married name of Woodhull, and Tennessee (1846-1923) Claflin were clairvoyants and spiritualists (partly fake, partly real), feminists, radicals, stockbrokers, champions and eager practitioners of free love, and strikingly beautiful adventuresses. Their Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly blended leftist politics with juicy, and generally reliable, sexual gossip. This drew down upon them the righteous indignation of Anthony Comstock, and led to various arrests for promoting obscenity--but the jury let them off. They fought for women's suffrage, and Victoria made two abortive attempts to run for President. After innumerable picaresque scrapes and escapes they moved to England and remarried into wealth, ending their days as philanthropic grandes dames. Brough (Consuelo, Margaret the Tragic Princess, etc., etc., not content with retelling this story, blows it up and jazzes it up (the Claflin house has no more paint on it ""than the cheeks of a nun""; Victoria tells mothers to inform children ""about the facts of life below the waist""). Anyone genuinely curious about the Claflins should turn to the biographies by Johanna Johnston and M. M. Marberry (both 1967).

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Simon & Schuster