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Diva Julia: The Public Romance and Private Agony of Julia Ward Howe Paperback – Bargain Price, March 3, 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Among the many wise decisions Ziegler (The Advocates of Peace in Antebellum America) makes in her revealing treatment of Julia Ward Howe's life, the most compelling is her consistent effort to let Howe speak for herself. And why not? Poet, playwright, political activist and philosopher Howe (1819-1910) was brilliantly articulate: "the soul whose desires are not fixed upon the unattainable is dead even while it liveth." If desiring the easily attainable is, indeed, death, then Howe was ecstatically alive. Ziegler's fluid narrative depicts her as the first "superwoman," juggling a tumultuous marriage to social activist Samuel Gridley Howe, the domestic strains of five children and always a desire to write and participate in the intellectual world. Her first success was a controversial book of poetry, Passion Flowers, which Ziegler meticulously analyzes. Refreshingly, Ziegler handles close readings skillfully but is simultaneously able to meaningfully discuss the larger implications of Howe's message during difficult times, especially for women. Howe was instrumental in the abolitionist and suffragist movements, as well as in the nascent global peace movement, so it isn't surprising that much has been written on her. Howe's own children wrote extensively on her remarkable life of ideas and action, but no one has been so thorough or bold as Ziegler. She moves past the apparent implications within Howe's work and avoids painting a cheery picture where there is none. Instead, she presents an honest look at Howe's personal struggles to do great public works, and her biography is the better for it.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Valarie Ziegler's biography is a long-overdue re-examination by a distinguished historian of the voluminous manuscript materials comprising the Howe collections. It is the first truly comprehensive study of Julia Ward Howe's life based on letters and other writings deliberately submerged by earlier biographers, beginning with Howe's children. One of its most fascinating strands, in fact, is its account of the Howe children's acrimonious deliberations over the public presentation of their famous parent's lives. Engagingly written and fully documented, Ziegler's work is a benchmark for all future study of one of the 19th-century's most provocative figures."--Gary Williams, Professor of English at the University of Idaho and author of Hungry Heart: The Literary Emergence of Julia Ward Howe. (Gary Williams )

"Remembered today as the author of the Civil War anthem "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," Julia Ward Howe over the span of a very long life enjoyed great public acclaim as writer, cultural arbiter, and social activist. In this vivid and highly readable biography, Valerie Ziegler draws upon the many books and voluminous letters, memoirs, and unpublished manuscripts of Howe, her strong-willed husband, and her prolific children to recreate the eventful-and often troubled and turbulent--private life that unfolded behind the iconic public image."--Paul S. Boyer, Editor-in-Chief, The Oxford Companion to United States History (Paul S. Boyer )

"This is a stunningly insightful account of the public and private life of one of the best-known women in nineteenth-century America. With an incisive, inquiring intelligence, Valarie Ziegler takes us beyond the carefully constructed public image of Julia Ward Howe to discover the complex, troubled, and valiant effort of one woman to accept and yet transcend the deadening conventions of her time. Ziegler combines impeccable scholarship with a lucid and engaging style that captivates and charms." -E. Brooks Holifield, Charles Howard Candler Professor, Emory University (E. Brooks Holifield )

"Valerie Ziegler has produced a fine critical biography of Julia Ward Howe, one of the most celebrated American literary and reformist figures in the half century preceding the first world war. None of Howe's previous biographers has mined her papers, and those of her famous husband and her several very articulate children, with such determination and investigatory zeal. As a result, Ziegler has been uncommonly successful in untangling the riddles of a troubled life and family situation that her protective offspring did their best to keep from public view. We are thus indebted to Ziegler not merely for a better understanding of Howe but even more for a fresh and vivid rendering of the dilemmas that, then and now, beset women who aspire to both a private and a public life." - Dr. William Hutchison, Charles Warren Research Professor of the History of Religion in America, Harvard Divinity School (Dr. William Hutchison )

Refreshingly, Ziegler handles close readings skillfully but is simultaneously able to meaningfully discuss the larger implications of Howe's message during difficult times, especially for women…Howe's own children wrote extensively on her remarkable life of ideas and action, but no one has been so thorough or bold as Ziegler." -Publisher's Weekly

"Valarie H. Ziegler, who teaches religious studies at DePauw University, elucidates the complicated truths behind the Howes' 'celebratory public images' of a 'noble Victorian family' headed by parents devoted to each other and to public service." -The New York Times (New York Times )

"The great strength of the book is Ziegler's portrait of the marriage, or rather Howe's experience of it. This is detailed and compelling…Ziegler's work brings the passionate, determined Howe once again vividly before us and for that we can be grateful." -The Women's Review of Books, 5/04 (Women's Review Of Books )

"…Ziegler's honest and incisive account of Howe's personal life and struggles, based on in-depth research, makes Diva Julia a remarkable read. Ziegler makes every effort to let Howe speak for herself. What makes this book a special contribution to the already extensive work on Howe is the thorough and detailed look at Howe's previously suppressed work, exposing the happy picture as a sham." -SirReadaLot.org, 3/1/04

A summary of the book + cover image –DePauw Magazine, Spring 2004

“The great strength of the book is Ziegler’s portrait of the marriage, or rather Howe’s experience of it. This is detailed and compelling…Julia’s struggles with self-doubt and her later self-assertions are vividly portrayed…Ziegler’s work brings the passionate, determined Howe once again vividly before us and for that we can be grateful.” –The Woman’s Review of Books, 5/04 (Women's Review Of Books )

“Both Ziegler’s account of Ward Howe’s maddening dilemma and the content of Ward Howe’s early works make for a more compelling reading than do the iconic versions of her life. Ziegler’s portrayal of Howe’s revisions shows them to be striking products of Victorian gender ideology and family politics.” – Choice, September 2004

"Valarie Ziegler's biography is a long-overdue re-examination by a distinguished historian of the voluminous manuscript materials comprising the Howe collections. It is the first truly comprehensive study of Julia Ward Howe's life based on letters and other writings deliberately submerged by earlier biographers, beginning with Howe's children. One of its most fascinating strands, in fact, is its account of the Howe children's acrimonious deliberations over the public presentation of their famous parent's lives. Engagingly written and fully documented, Ziegler's work is a benchmark for all future study of one of the 19th-century's most provocative figures."--Gary Williams, Professor of English at the University of Idaho and author of Hungry Heart: The Literary Emergence of Julia Ward Howe. (, )

"Remembered today as the author of the Civil War anthem "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," Julia Ward Howe over the span of a very long life enjoyed great public acclaim as writer, cultural arbiter, and social activist. In this vivid and highly readable biography, Valerie Ziegler draws upon the many books and voluminous letters, memoirs, and unpublished manuscripts of Howe, her strong-willed husband, and her prolific children to recreate the eventful-and often troubled and turbulent--private life that unfolded behind the iconic public image."--Paul S. Boyer, Editor-in-Chief, The Oxford Companion to United States History (, )

"This is a stunningly insightful account of the public and private life of one of the best-known women in nineteenth-century America. With an incisive, inquiring intelligence, Valarie Ziegler takes us beyond the carefully constructed public image of Julia Ward Howe to discover the complex, troubled, and valiant effort of one woman to accept and yet transcend the deadening conventions of her time. Ziegler combines impeccable scholarship with a lucid and engaging style that captivates and charms." -E. Brooks Holifield, Charles Howard Candler Professor, Emory University (, )

"Valerie Ziegler has produced a fine critical biography of Julia Ward Howe, one of the most celebrated American literary and reformist figures in the half century preceding the first world war. None of Howe's previous biographers has mined her papers, and those of her famous husband and her several very articulate children, with such determination and investigatory zeal. As a result, Ziegler has been uncommonly successful in untangling the riddles of a troubled life and family situation that her protective offspring did their best to keep from public view. We are thus indebted to Ziegler not merely for a better understanding of Howe but even more for a fresh and vivid rendering of the dilemmas that, then and now, beset women who aspire to both a private and a public life." - Dr. William Hutchison, Charles Warren Research Professor of the History of Religion in America, Harvard Divinity School (, ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (March 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826418562
  • ASIN: B004JZX252
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,516,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Fascinating look at one of the country's most influential women. Tells the ups and downs of her family life, shares insights into her writing, poetry, and justice work.
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