Q & A: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

Originally published in eBook Selected Writings: On Writing Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship That Changed the World

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: Because I love compelling, significant, and underreported
historical stories, especially about women. All of which I found in the
unlikely friendship of two fascinating and inspiring women – – Elizabeth Cady
Stanton and Susan B. Anthony – – who fueled the controversial, contentious, and
momentous nineteenth century fight to improve the social, civil, and economic
conditions of women’s lives. It is a heroic story of progress and betrayal with
a host of supporting characters, from the admirable to the controversial. It is
an illuminating story about democracy, citizenship, voting rights, and gender
equality. In short, how could I not write this book?

Q: What was the most challenging part of writing your book?

A: Dealing with the mountains of primary and secondary
source material!

Q: Who was your favorite – – Elizabeth or Susan?

A: Both of them, but for different reasons: Elizabeth
because she was a scintillating thinker, prolifically influential writer, and a
fearless orator. Susan because she was an indefatigable doer, an organizer and
planner extraordinaire, and a principled pragmatist. And both of them, for the
same reasons: Because of their unwavering commitment to the cause, fierce
loyalty to each other, and razor-sharp wit.

After reading my manuscript, my editor wrote in an email
that “at first” she “felt partial to Stanton, finding her ability to juggle
family life with work quite impressive.” As she read on, however, she “became
so enamored of Anthony’s strength and powerful ethical core” that she “ended up
loving both women equally.”

Q: Do you think Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
were in love?

A: If you mean “in love” as what many of us experience with
close, long-lasting friends, or to use my granddaughter’s term BFF (best
friends forever), they certainly appeared to have had that type of “love.” If
you mean “in love,” as in were they lesbians, a twentieth century concept?
There is absolutely no evidence, and I say that as someone who has been in a
same-sex relationship for more than twenty years.

Q: What writer influenced you in the way you write history?

A: I have a quote by Barbara Tuchman, who wrote
prize-winning, best-selling historical narratives, (although not about women),
taped above my computer: “Whether in biography or straight history, the
writer’s object is – – or should be – – to hold the reader’s attention . . . to
turn the pages and keep on turning to the end.”

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