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Authors: Elizabeth Mahon

Tags: #General, #History, #Women, #Social Science, #Biography & Autobiography, #Biography, #Women's Studies

Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History's Most Notorious Women

Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History's Most Notorious Women
Mahon, Elizabeth Kerri
Penguin (2011)
Social Science, General, Biography & Autobiography, History, Women's Studies, Biography, Women

Throughout history women have caused wars, defied the rules, and brought men to their knees. The famous and the infamous, queens, divorcées, actresses, and outlaws have created a ruckus during their lifetimes-turning heads while making waves. Scandalous Women tells the stories of the risk takers who have flouted convention, beaten the odds, and determined the course of world events. * When Cleopatra (69 BC-30 BC) wasn't bathing in asses' milk, the last pharaoh of the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt and forged an important political alliance with Rome against her enemies-until her dalliance with Marc Antony turned the empire against her. * Emilie du Châtelet (1706-1748), a mathematician, physicist, author, and paramour of one of the greatest minds in France, Voltaire, shocked society with her unorthodox lifestyle and intellectual prowess-and became a leader in the study of theoretical physics in France at a time when the sciences were ruled by men. * Long before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1928) fought to end discrimination and the terrible crime of lynching and helped found the NAACP, but became known as a difficult woman for her refusal to compromise and was largely lost in the annals of history. * Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) had a passion for archaeology and languages, and left her privileged world behind to become one of the foremost chroniclers of British imperialism in the Middle East, and one of the architects of the modern nation of Iraq.

Table of Contents
Scandalous Women
“How can one not love a book that includes among its scandalous subjects Zelda Fitzgerald, Camille Claudel, and Calamity Jane? My only criticism of Elizabeth Kerri Mahon’s engaging book on the lives of women who have helped write the pages of history is that it is not longer, given the host of others who deserve to be rescued from the footnotes of history.”
—Paula Uruburu, author of
American Eve
“Brains, boldness, beauty, courage, and craziness all come together in this entertaining account of some of history’s wildest women.”
—Hallie Rubenhold,
author of
The Covent Garden Ladies
The Lady in Red
“As delectable as dark chocolate on a winter night,
Scandalous Women
offers definitive proof that bad girls
have more fun. A thoroughly enjoyable romp through women’s history.”
—Kris Waldherr,
author of
Doomed Queens
“A lively and informative look at the women from many walks of life who have shaken up history—and made it.”
—Susan Higginbotham,
author of
The Queen
of Last
“With more verve than Josephine Baker’s banana dance, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon brings together a pantheon of history’s most scintillating women and jam-packs each and every story with fascinating details and lively humor.”
—Carlyn Beccia, author of
The Raucous Royals
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Mahon, Elizabeth Kerri.
Scandalous women : the lives and loves of history’s most notorious women /
“A Perigee Book.”
Includes bibliographical references.
eISBN : 978-1-101-47881-3
1. Women—Biography. I. Title.
CT3203.M35 2011
Most Perigee books are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising, or educational use. Special books, or book excerpts, can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write: Special Markets, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

In loving memory
my parents,
Victor and Roslyn Mahon
There are a huge number of people who were instrumental in the process of shepherding
Scandalous Women
from blog to book, and I owe them all a shout-out for their help and assistance. First and foremost, my awesome agent Erin Cartwright-Niumata, who always believed that we would find the right project to work on together. Thank you for having faith in me. To my editor Jeanette Shaw, for having patience as I learned the process and for her insightful comments that made the manuscript that much better. To Leanna Renee Hieber, Hope Tarr, Liz Maverick, Katrina Tipton, Stacey Agdern, Megan Frampton, and Kwana Jackson who kept telling me “This should be a book!” Thanks, guys, for keeping on me to finally sit down in front of the computer to write the proposal. To Marley Harbuck Gibson, for sharing her own experiences with writing a nonfiction proposal. To my fellow chapter members in RWA NYC for the support. To Sue Ritt-Nichol and Natalie Noel, for being the best friends in the world. And I would like to especially thank the readers of
Scandalous Women
, who have followed the blog from its inception three years ago. When I started the blog, I had no idea what a journey I would end up taking and how many wonderful people I would reach through the blog. Their comments, emails, and suggestions have been a blessing. This book is for them.
Well-behaved women rarely make history.
Scandalous Women
isn’t history, it’s herstory. Ever notice those “This Day in History” sections in the newspaper or on TV? Most of those little factoids only give you half the story—the male half. If they do mention women at all, it is a scant few whose names are well known, mainly the saints and the Goody Two-Shoes of history.
Scandalous Women
aims to change that, reclaiming history one woman at a time.
In five thousand years of recorded history, from the ancient world to the present day, women have caused wars, created drama, defied the rules, and brought men to their knees. The famous and the infamous, warrior queens, spies, adventurers, and even a pirate or two have set off a ruckus during their lifetime—turning heads while making waves. These women came from all walks of life, from the royal palaces of Egypt, England, France, and Russia to the slums of St. Louis and Baltimore. Some of them, like Jane Digby and Lady Hester Stanhope, broke out of their comfort zone, leaving their homes, the lives they knew, behind them, to search for something more. Some sought fame and fortune, women like Lola Montez, Billie Holiday, and Josephine Baker.
From Boudica, who torched London to the ground in revenge against the Romans after they brutally raped her daughters, to Josephine Baker, who took Paris by storm while dancing at the Folies Bergère wearing only a belt of bananas and a smile in the Roaring Twenties, these women didn’t let the mores of the time stop them from getting what they wanted. Others, like Émilie du Châtelet, battled the chauvinism of the male establishment, which held that science was no place for a woman. While others triumphed, some women, like Zelda Fitzgerald and Camille Claudel, paid a high price in their lifetime, their creativity stifled by dominant men, until they ended spiraling into madness. Not all of these women are admirable; some did questionable things, but for what they considered a noble cause, like Rose O’Neal Greenhow.

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