How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle: Reflections of an Influential 19th Century Woman

Frances E. Willard, Author, Carol O'Hare, Editor, Edith Mayo, Designed by Fair Oaks Publishing Company $8.95 (104p) ISBN 978-0-933271-05-0
Born in 1839, Willard ``ran wild'' in her girlhood on the Wisconsin prairie. Retaining her adventurous, independent spirit, she later became a university educator, a suffragist and president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. This slender volume chronicles her determination, at the age of 53, to learn to ride the bicycle--then a controversial activity for women. Although some doctors prescribed it for its health benefits, others believed that it would cause a variety of ills, such as ruining the ``organs of matrimonial necessity,'' and that the freedom it offered would lead girls into perdition. With her customary ability to see through such sham attitudes, Willard embraced the activity as one of the few direct ways for women to gain feelings of confidence and control and be seen by men as equals in skill. As she offers advice to sister novices, she muses, with sagacity and charm, on the sport's philosophical implications. She asserts, for example, that to achieve success, one must first expect and envision it, whether in bicycle riding or in life. Illustrated. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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