Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

Publisher: Vintage

   From admired historian—and coiner of one of feminism's most popular slogans—Laurel Thatcher Ulrich comes an exploration of what it means for women to make history.

   In 1976, in an obscure scholarly article, Ulrich wrote, "Well behaved women seldom make history."  Today these words appear on t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, greeting cards, and all sorts of Web sites and blogs.  Ulrich explains how that happened and what it means by looking back at women of the past who challenged the way history was written.  She ranges from the fifteenth-century writer Christine de Pizan, who wrote The Book of the City of Ladies, to the twentieth century’s Virginia Woolf, author of A Room of One's Own.  Ulrich updates their attempts to reimagine female possibilities and looks at the women who didn't try to make history but did.  And she concludes by showing how the 1970s activists who created "second-wave feminism" also created a renaissance in the study of history.


Chapter One: Three Writers

Here are the stories of three women making history. One was a poet and scholar attached to a French court, another was an American activist, the third an English novelist. None was a historian in the conventional sense, but all three were determined to give women a history. The...
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"A bravura performance. . . . Ulrich is brilliant here. . . . Few have done as much to so profoundly enrich and enlarge our vision of the past."

The Boston Globe


"The book is a pleasure to read. . . . Ulrich's style is plain and direct."

The Washington Post Book World


"Ulrich writes with deep insight and humor about subjects that touch our daily lives."

The Washington Times