Harris introduces 19th-century performer Lotta Crabtree in her newest biography.
Born in 1847 to English immigrants, Lotta Crabtree became a darling of the stage in the latter half of the 19th century. Lotta got her start as a child performing as a so-called “Fairy Star” in California Gold Rush mining communities but came to be known across the United States and in England as well. Lotta established her own style, with a willingness to bend rules and break tradition, her playful physicality on stage also earning her the distinction of first female comic performer. In addition to the narrative biography, informative sidebars provide a more in-depth look at technology, events, and cultural issues of Lotta’s life and times, including the invention of the telegraph, completion of the transcontinental railroad, and the rise and fall of minstrel shows. The sheer number of Lotta’s major life events that the author includes in such a brief space leads to occasional disruptions in the narrative flow. Nevertheless, this easy-to-read biography is sure to appeal to fans of 19th-century American history as well as those seeking narratives of strong and trailblazing women.
Little Lotta’s big life is a globe-trotting adventure of a woman ahead of her time, reminding contemporary readers that, “if a girl is going to truly succeed in the world she must do so as her own self.” (timeline, source notes, glossary, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-14)