Biographies & Memoirs

Great Lives Lecture Series: Madam C.J. Walker

On Her Own Ground:  The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, April 10, with a lecture on  Madam C.J. Walker by A’Lelia Bundles, author of On Her Own Ground:  The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker.

Born into a former-slave family in 1867, Sarah Breedlove transformed herself into Madam C.J. Walker, an entrepreneur who built her empire developing hair products for black women. After the bloody East St. Louis Race Riot of 1917, Madam Walker devoted herself to having lynching made a federal crime; she later donated part of her financial legacy to support black schools, organizations, individuals, orphanages, retirement homes, and the YMCA and YWCA. Author A’Lelia Bundles is the great-great-granddaughter of Madam Walker.  Bundles enjoyed a 30-year career as an executive and producer in network television news, including as a producer for ABC’s “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.” On Her Own Ground:  The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker was named a 2001 New York Times Notable Book.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of Madam C.J. Walker check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Marie and Pierre Curie

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, April 5, with a lecture on Marie and Pierre Curie by Lauren Redniss, author of Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout.

Lauren Redniss is a graphic biographer whose writing and drawing have appeared in the New York Times, which nominated her for the Pulitzer Prize. Her idea for a life of the Curies occurred to her because, she told the online magazine, Intelligent Life, “I had been thinking about love stories….What struck me as an interesting challenge was that the two main themes were love and radioactivity. And both of those things, of course, are invisible. I loved the idea that I could try to make a visual book out of invisible things.” Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout was a finalist for the National Book Award.  Redniss teaches at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the lives of Marie and Pierre Curie check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: J.E.B. Stuart

Bold Dragoon: The Life of J.E.B. Stuart

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, April 3, with a lecture on J.E.B. Stuart by Emory Thomas, author of Bold Dragoon: The Life of J.E.B. Stuart.

James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart was the most famous Confederate cavalryman of the Civil War — and one of its most dashing figures.  Born in Virginia and educated at West Point, he was a trusted associate of Robert E. Lee, leading the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry in important battles including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and the Wilderness –  as well as Gettysburg, where his actions proved controversial.  His death in Richmond in spring 1864 marked the decline of the superiority of the Confederate horse during the war. Emory M. Thomas is Regents Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Georgia, a long-time member of the history department faculty, and the author of eight books, including authoritative biographies of Lee and Stuart.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of J.E.B. Stuart check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl by David Kherdian

The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl by David Kherdian

There was more than one wide-scale genocide in the 20th century. In 1916, the Turkish Minister of the Interior Talaat Pasha sent a letter to the government of Aleppo in Syria reminding them that all Armenians living in Turkey were be destroyed completely: “An end must be put to their existence, however criminal the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either age or sex nor to conscientious scruples.”  It was an order that was to be echoed by Adolph Hitler in 1939 in pursuing the end of “the Polish-speaking race.” Hitler added, “After all, who remembers today the extermination of the Armenians?”

Alvin Schwartz Set Down Scary Stories and Silly Ones

Alvin Schwartz, writer of many books for children that collected and shared traditions from times past, first became interested in folklore as a child, although at the time he did not think of it as something to study.  Folklore was just something that was part of his childhood: the games, riddles, rhymes, superstitions and scary stories. He grew up to become a journalist and also worked as an adjunct English professor. Later, his writing and research skills would play an important part in the job he eventually took on to make many types of folklore familiar to young readers.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Sherlock Holmes

Great Lives Lecture Series: Sherlock Holmes

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, March 27, with a lecture on Sherlock Holmes by Jeremy Black, author of London: A History.

The game’s afoot when British historian and professor of history at the University of Exeter Jeremy Black elucidates the scintillating mind of Sherlock Holmes; the tenebrous character of Dr. Moriarty; and the rather obtuse Dr. Watson, who chronicled Holmes’ adventures. Professor Black analyzes Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character and the escapades that emanated from Holmes’ digs at 221B, where it is always 1895 in London.   Black is the author of more than 100 books on European (and especially British) history, including London: A History.  He has previously given highly popular Great Lives lectures on figures ranging from George III and Napoleon to James Bond.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of Sherlock Holmes check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott by Harriet Reisen

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, March 13, with a lecture on Louisa May Alcott by Harriet Reisen, author of Louisa May Alcott.

Louisa May Alcott spent her childhood in Boston and in Concord, Massachusetts, where her days were enlightened by visits to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s library and excursions into nature with Henry David Thoreau. When she was 35, she wrote the beloved Little Women in her childhood home, basing the novel on her family during the Civil War. Author Harriet Reisen’s diverse credits include historical documentaries for PBS and HBO, co-producing National Public Radio (NPR) and teaching film history and criticism at Stanford University. Publishers Weekly called her biography of Alcott “heart-rending.”

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of Clarence Darrow check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Clarence Darrow

Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, Feburary 23, with a lecture on Clarence Darrow by John A. Farrell, author of Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned.

Following graduation from the University of Virginia, author John A. Farrell embarked on a prize-winning career as a newspaperman, most notably for the Denver Post and the Boston Globe. His biography of Darrow —  “impeccably researched, beautifully written, and timely,” said the San Francisco Chronicle – describes the career of the limelight-stealing, two-fisted attorney who resigned from corporate law to defend union organizers, powerless minorities, and those accused of sensational crimes. He is perhaps best known for his devastating attack on his former friend (and three-time presidential candidate) William Jennings Bryan, when the pair faced off during the notorious Scopes “Monkey Trial” over the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of Clarence Darrow check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Jackie Robinson

Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, Feburary 16, with a lecture on Jackie Robinson by Jonathan Eig, author of Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season.

April 15, 1947, marked the most important opening day in baseball history. When Jackie Robinson stepped onto the diamond that afternoon at Ebbets Field, he became the first black man to break into major-league baseball in the 20th century. World War II had just ended; democracy had triumphed. Now Americans were beginning to press for justice on the home front - and Robinson had a chance to lead the way. But his biggest concern was his temper, and playing well, despite race-baiting by segregationists. Author Jonathan Eig, in addition to publishing three nonfiction books, writes a monthly sports column for Chicago magazine.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of Jackie Robinson check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Richard and Mildred Loving

The Loving Story movie poster

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, Feburary 14, with a panel discussion and film showing about Loving v. Virginia .

In 1958, the sheriff of Caroline County charged into the bedroom of Richard and Mildred Loving in the dead of night and arrested them. Although legally married in Washington, Richard was white and Mildred was black, which was against the law in Virginia and 13 other states. The case on their behalf was brought by the ACLU before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” leading to the overturning of all such laws in the United States. Panelists on the program will be Bernard Cohen, one of two lawyers who argued the case before the Court, and Peggy Fortune, the Lovings’ daughter.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of  check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.