cover image Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull, Uncensored

Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull, Uncensored

Mary Gabriel. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $24.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-1-56512-132-4

One of the most controversial American women of the late 19th century, Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) springs to life in this study that leaves no stone unturned. Gabriel, an editor with the Reuters News Service, quotes extensively from her subject's articles, speeches and letters, and has researched the newspapers of the period. Victoria and her flamboyant sister, Tennie, worked as spiritualists but then attracted attention by opening a successful Wall Street brokerage house. According to the author, Victoria's unhappy marriage to an alcoholic changed her into a radical advocate for women's rights who spoke out in public and published feminist articles in a newspaper she began. Her support of free love, divorce and workers' rights earned her the enmity of the establishment and led to conflicts with leading suffragettes. In 1870, she became the first woman to run for president--a campaign that was interrupted when she was sent to jail for discussing in print renowned minister Henry Ward Beecher's alleged love affair. Victoria spent her later years in England after marrying a wealthy Britisher. Photos. (Jan.)