Friday, 29 April 2016

Book Review: Harriet Quimby; Flying Fair Lady

Harriet Quimby

By Leslie Kerr
We hear so little about many of the women of history. Women
July 1st, 1912
who broke ground for us in a time of much sexism, and many barriers to achievement. She remained single in a time when women were to be barefoot and pregnant.

It's a well-written book, and the photos from the archives are fascinating. Kerr has done a great job in her research. I really enjoyed this book, while sadly reflecting on the sexism of the times.

Whilst waiting for hubby to have some eye surgery done (to remove a small tumour), I read this book. It's not a long book, 112 pages, but it is filled with amazing photographs. You can view some on the web page. It was a riveting read.

Quimby moved to New York City in 1903 to work as a theatre critic for Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, eventually writing more than 250 articles over 9 years, establishing herself as a journalist. She was an quite an adventurer, covering important issues such as women's rights, minority and other social justice issues.

She was also a script writer for silent films, in the early stages of the times. She was a model/spokesperson for Vin Fiz, after becoming the first female aviator in the USA. She was fearless. These early planes, hers a new Blériot XI monoplane, was made of light, simple materials. She and her passenger were ejected from the plane, since there were no seatbelts. Her flight instructor, and the plane designer, Louis Blériot, helped recover her body after the incident.

The Wright Brothers didn't want to teach women to fly, but she managed to find a teacher. She had to take aviation lessons at 4:30 in the morning to avoid controversy. She even had to fight to earn her pilot's licence, as the Aero Club didn't think women should fly and didn't want to test her. She was the second woman in the world to earn her licence. She designed her own flight suit, since women were still frowned upon if they wore pants. It's hard to believe how far we've had to come in this day and age.

She has her own Wiki page:
On April 16, 1912, Quimby took off from Dover, England, en route to Calais, France and made the flight in 59 minutes, landing about 25 miles (40 km) from Calais on a beach inÉquihen-PlagePas-de-Calais. She became the first woman to pilot an aircraft across the English Channel.[6] Her accomplishment received little media attention, however, as the sinking of the RMS Titanic the day before consumed the interest of the public and filled newspapers.[7]

Harriet Quimby: Flying Fair Lady

One of the first women to fly, the fashionable Harriet Quimby (1875–1912) came of age in the fading years of a gilded era, determined to have more than the life of a farmer’s wife. Beautiful, intelligent, and forever seeking the next adventure when her life ended tragically at age 37, this extraordinary pioneer had accomplished what most—women or men—only dream about. 

“I think I shall do something someday,” she once remarked. This recognition of her legacy is long overdue.


Olga said...

Thanks for this post. I will look for the book now.

William Kendall said...

I had not heard of her. I read a bio of the Wright brothers recently, and remember that they took women up for a flight, with the bottoms of dresses tied up,lest their skirts go flying up.