Listen, World! How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America’s Most-Read Woman

Seal Pr. Sept. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9781541674356. $30. BIOG
When thinking of famous female newspaper columnists, Hedda Hopper, Erma Bombeck, and Ann Landers often come to mind. Yet, the contributions of other women in the field of journalism, as well as in other professions, sometimes get lost over time or hidden from history. In their biography of Elsie Robinson, Scheeres (Jesus Land: A Memoir) and Gilbert (Covering Catastrophe: Broadcast Journalists Report September 11) bring to life one such story. They recount how the popular syndicated Hearst newspaper columnist broke free from the restrictive Victorian morés of her time, leaving her financially secure but loveless marriage to a wealthy New Englander. The authors describe in page-turning detail how she pursues a career in writing and illustrating back home in California, a place that offered her more freedom and a milder climate that she hoped would help her ailing asthmatic son. Robinson was a spirited and adventurous proto-feminist. She went on to create a wildly popular and inspirational column, “Listen, World!” among others, in the 1920s, and she wrote her memoir I Wanted Out! a decade later.
VERDICT . This engaging and well-researched biography reads like a novel and should appeal to readers interested in journalism, women’s studies, and adventure tales alike.
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