Writing Out My Heart

Writing Out My Heart : Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-96

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The journal of Frances E. Willard had been hidden away in a cupboard at the national headquarters of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and its importance eluded Willard's biographers. Writing Out My Heart publishes for the first time substantial portions of the forty-nine volumes rediscovered in 1982, opening a window on the remarkable inner life of this great public figure and casting her in a new light. No other female political leader of the period left a private record like this. Written during her teens, twenties, and fifties, the journal documents the creation of Frances Willard's self. At the same time, it often reads like a good novel. It stands as one of the most explicit and painful records in the nineteenth century of one woman's coming to terms with her love for women in a heterosexual world. Other sections reveal what impelled Willard to reform - the nature and depth of the religious dimension of her life - a dimension not yet adequately explored by any biographer. Here we see her growing commitment to the cause of woman. The volumes written in her late middle age give insight into the years when, world famous, she was part of the transatlantic network of reform, battling ill health, dealing with controversy in the WCTU, and grieving for her mother, a lifelong figure of emotional support. This finale concludes one of the most fascinating of the journal's themes: the nineteenth-century confrontation with sickness and death.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 510 pages
  • 160.8 x 237.5 x 34.5mm | 965.43g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0252021398
  • 9780252021398

Back cover copy

The journal of Frances E. Willard had been hidden away in a cupboard at the national headquarters of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and its importance eluded Willard's biographers. Writing Out My Heart publishes for the first time substantial portions of the forty-nine volumes rediscovered in 1982, opening a window on the remarkable inner life of this great public figure and casting her in a new light. No other female political leader of the period left a private record like this. Written during her teens, twenties, and fifties, the journal documents the creation of Frances Willard's self. At the same time, it often reads like a good novel. It stands as one of the most explicit and painful records in the nineteenth century of one woman's coming to terms with her love for women in a heterosexual world. Other sections reveal what impelled Willard to reform - the nature and depth of the religious dimension of her life - a dimension not yet adequately explored by any biographer. Here we see her growing commitment to the "cause of woman". The volumes written in her late middle age give insight into the years when, world famous, she was part of the transatlantic network of reform, battling ill health, dealing with controversy in the WCTU, and grieving for her mother, a lifelong figure of emotional support. This finale concludes one of the most fascinating of the journal's themes: the nineteenth-century confrontation with sickness and death.show more

Review quote

"Educator, orator, feminist, and longtime president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, Willard (1839-98) was an international representative of a prominent strand of Protestant American activism. This landmark volume is the first publication of selections from her massive journals, which she kept mostly as a young woman. Entries show the development of her religious and reform commitments, her search for suitable outlets for her ambition, and her struggles to reconcile conflicting demands of family, society, and self. Also revealed is her passionate love for other women, which she understood in terms that will seem both familiar and unfamiliar to contemporary readers." -- Library Journal. "Willard's passion and power come alive in these pages." -- Publishers Weeklyshow more

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