Category Archives: Empowered Women

Olive Thomas: Her high powered life and mysterious death

After winning The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City contest in 1914, Olive Thomas’ life would change forever. Her win led her to become a popular artists and illustrators model and she appeared on numerous magazine covers including The Saturday Evening Post.

Her beauty captured the eye of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., and he hired her to perform in his wildly popular Ziegfeld Follies, and later his more risqué show The Midnight Frolic.

In 1916, she began a career in silent films. She also met and married Jack Pickford, the younger brother of silent film star Mary Pickford. Four years later, she died while on a second honeymoon with Pickford in Paris, France. News of her hospitalization and death were the subject of speculation in the press, and has been cited as one of the first publicized Hollywood scandals.

Was her death an accident? Suicide? Or Murder? The world may never know!


Fanny Brice – Ziegfeld’s Funniest Lady

Famous funny lady, Fanny Brice, was one of the many stars who got her start in the Ziegfeld Follies.

Born with a gift for comedy, an excellent singing voice, and plenty of acting chops, Fanny Brice took the world by storm.

From humble beginnings and a less-than enviable love life, Fanny rose to mega-stardom. She will forever be remembered through two films made about her, Funny Girl and Funny Lady, starring the incomparable, Barbara Streisand.

You can learn more about this early 20th century dynamo in the video below. You can also read about her in this post I wrote in May! Enjoy!

 

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!


 

Billie Burke & Judy Garland

Ziegfeld’s Girl – Actress Billie Burke

Who was Glinda the Good Witch?

Watch this video and learn about actress, Billie Burke who was forever immortalized as the enchanting witch, Glinda, in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.

Married to the famous Broadway showman, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., she had an amazing career of her own on stage and screen.

Just tap your heels three times, click on the arrow, sit back, relax and watch this ten minute video!

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!

 


 

Seven Fascinating Facts About Hawaii’s Last Royal Heir – Princess Ka’iulani

Referred to as “The People’s Princess,” “The Tragic Princess,” “The Peacock Princess,” and “The Island Rose,” Princess Ka’iulani is one of Hawaii’s most beloved royal Princesses. Born in 1875,  this amazing young woman  lived her life with heart, passion, and a sense of duty to her native land. Unfortunately, her destiny to rule would be cut short  by the abrupt end of her family’s legacy, and the end of an age. Here are some fascinating facts about this young Hawaiian heroine.

#1)  She was the first ‘hapa haole’ (half western/white) heir to the Hawaiian throne.

Born to Princess Miriam Likelike, sister of King Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani, and the Scottish financier, Archibald Scott Cleghorn, Victoria Ka’iulani’s birth was a gift to the Islands. Kaʻiulani was named after her maternal aunt Anna Ka’iulani, and Queen Victoria of England who helped restore the independence of the Kingdom of Hawaii during King Kamehameha III’s reign.

She was christened Princess Victoria Ka‘iulani Kawekio I Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Cleghorn at St. Andrews Catherdral in Honolulu with the King and Her Highness Ke’elikolani standing in as godparents. After the christening, the King hosted an elaborate celebration at the Iolani Palace in Honolulu. Upon her birth, Kaʻiulani was gifted the estate of ‘Ainahau in Waikiki where she grew up with her parents and three half-sisters from her father’s first marriage.

#2)  She was an accomplished athlete, musician and artist.

Growing up in the paradise of ‘Ainahau (which means ‘cool land’), the Princess spent much of her time outdoors. She loved to ride her pony, Fairy, and also excelled in swimming, surfing, and dancing the hula. She and her half-sister Annie would often play the ukulele and sing for visiting dignitaries and honored guests. Influenced by her mother’s lady-in-waiting, art enthusiast and painter Isobel Strong, and the landscape artist Joseph Dwight Strong, the Princess developed an interest in painting. While pursuing her education in Europe, she took several trips to Scotland and France to study. While in school she also enjoyed many hours of tennis and cricket.

#3)  She loved peacocks.

The birds, native to India, were highly prized in Victorian England. Ka’iulani’s godmother, Princess Ruth Ke`elikolani, gifted the young princess with a small flock of the birds called pikake in Hawaiian. They soon became favored pets of Ka’iulani and her fondness of them was so great, she was sometimes referred to as The Peacock Princess. She also adored the white blooms and fragrance of Arabian jasmine, also native to India, and the flowers also became known as pikake. Today, a small park that was once part of her family’s estate is graced with a statue of Ka’iulani feeding her beloved peacocks.

#4)  She received a British education.

As future Queen to the Hawaiian throne, an well-rounded education was extremely import for the Princess. After discussions among the King, the cabinet minister Mr. Lorin Thurston, and her father, it was decided that thirteen-year-old Victoria would to pursue a private education at Great Harrowden Hall in Northhamptonshire.

Prior to her departure, Honolulu was honored with a visit from the famed author Robert Louis Stevenson. The royal family welcomed him with open arms and he became close with the King and Ka’iulani’s father. To help ease the anxiety of leaving her home for the first time, Stevenson told the Princess tales of her father’s homeland, and of great Celtic Warrior Queens. He also gifted her with a poem that he wrote in her autograph book.

Forth from her land to mine she goes,

The island maid, the island rose,

Light of heart and bright of face:

The daughter of a double race.

Her islands here in southern sun

Shall mourn their Ka’iulani gone,

And I, in her dear banyan shade,

Look vainly for my little maid.

But our Scots islands far away

Shall glitter with unwanted day,

And cast for once their tempest by

To smile in Ka’iulani’s eye.

Ka’iulani and her older half-sister Annie, with whom she was closest, traveled to England to pursue their education for one year. However, for the princess, one year became four. She excelled in her studies of Latin, Literature, Mathematics and History. She took courses in French, German, and English, and art.

#5)  She was an impassioned advocate against the annexation of Hawaii.

During Ka’iulani’s years abroad, there was much unrest in Hawaii. Her uncle, King Kalakaua, died in 1891, and her aunt, Princess Lili’uokalani, became queen. The new queen appointed Ka’iulani as her heir, making her Crown Princess of Hawaii. In 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and her aunt was deposed. The movement to annex Hawaii to the United States was in part lead by Lorrin Thurston, the very man who took part in the decision to prepare Ka’iulani for her future life as queen.

In an attempt to fight the overthrow of her kingdom, Ka’iulani traveled to Washington to plead “for my throne, my nation, and my flag.” Upon her arrival she made a statement to the press:

“Seventy years ago, Christian America sent over Christian men and women to give religion and civilization to Hawaii. Today, three of the sons of those missionaries are at your capitol asking you to undo their father’s work. Who sent them? Who gave them the authority to break the Constitution which they swore they would uphold? Today, I, a poor weak girl with not one of my people with me and all these ‘Hawaiian’ statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people. Even now I can hear their wail in my heart and it gives me strength and courage and I am strong – strong in the faith of God, strong in the knowledge that I am right, strong in the strength of seventy million people who in this free land will hear my cry and will refuse to let their flag cover dishonor to mine!”

She also met with President Grover Cleveland to plead her case. Impressed with the seventeen year old Princess, President Cleveland agreed to reassess the situation in Hawaii. However, in the end, the annexation took place, much to the devastation of the Princess.

#6)  She died at 23 years of age.

After the overthrow of the Hawaiian royal family, Princess Ka’iulani’s health began to deteriorate. A family friend stated that the weakness of her heart was due to shock, the direct consequence of her promised kingdom being wrenched away from her. On a happier note, she became engaged to the Hawaiian Prince David Kawananakoa, and the couple made plans for a joyous celebration.

Despite her weakness, the princess continued to partake of swimming, surfing, and other outdoor activities. But, when she was caught in a thunderstorm while riding horseback in Waimea while visiting the Island of Hawaii, she became ill and never recovered. She died on March 6, 1899 of “inflammatory rheumatism” to the heart-break of her fiancé, her family, and the Hawaiian people.

#7)  A movie was made about her.

A dramatized movie of her life was released in 2009. The film’s original title, “The Barbarian Princess,” was very controversial, and hearkened back to the pro-annexation press referring to her as a half-breed, or “dusky” or “heathen.” The title was changed several times and was finally released as “Princess Kaiulani.”

 

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

 

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!


Fanny Brice

Women in Show Business History – Fanny Brice, Funny lady

Fanny Brice (sometimes spelled Fannie) was born on New York’s lower east side in 1891 as Fania Borach. She was the third child of Hungarian/Jewish saloon owners, but her interests were not in the family business. At fourteen years old, she made her stage debut during amateur night at Keeny’s Theater in Brooklyn. Shortly after, she started working in burlesque reviews as a singer and comedian.

In 1910 while performing in a burlesque show, she was noticed by famous show-man, Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. After the show, he approached her back stage and said he wanted to put her under contract for his Ziegfeld Follies. Fanny agreed and thus began her long association with the popular entertainment icon. She performed in seven Follies between 1910 and 1923 and in several Midnight Frolic editions 1915 to 1921. In the 1921 Follies she was featured singing “My Man.” Wildly popular, the song became her signature hit.

Brice as Snooks
biography.com

Brice was most famous for her character, Baby Snooks. She performed as Baby in the 1934 Follies. Fanny and Snooks then hit the airwaves in radio at CBS and The Baby Snooks Show was featured weekly till 1948. In 1944, Brice got her own half-hour show on CBS and earned $6,000 a week. Brice was so invested in Snooks, she would often do her radio performances in costume, even though her audience couldn’t see her.

Completely devoted to the character, she told biographer Norman Katov: “Snooks is just the kid I used to be. She’s my kind of youngster, the type I like. She has imagination. She’s eager. She’s alive. With all her deviltry, she is still a good kid, never vicious or mean. I love Snooks, and when I play her I do it as seriously as if she were real. I am Snooks. For twenty minutes or so, Fanny Brice ceases to exist.”

Brice was married three times, first to a local barber, in her teens. The marriage lasted three days before she sued for divorce. Her second husband, known as the love of her life, Nicky Arnstein, was a lady’s man, professional gambler, and white collar criminal. Arnstein served fourteen months in Sing Sing for wiretapping and Brice visited him in prison every week. In 1918 they married, after living together for six years. In 1924 Arnstein was charged in a Wall Street bond theft , was convicted, and sentenced to Leavenworth Federal Prison where he served three years. Upon his release, he never returned to Fanny and their two children. She divorced him and then married Billy Rose, a songwriter and stage producer. Her third marriage, too, ended in divorce.

Fanny Brice | Kari Bovee | Empowered Women in History

Fanny’s career was long and varied. She worked as a song “model”, comedian, singer, theater and movie actress. She starred in many films, two in which she plays herself, The Great Ziegfeld (1934) and The Ziegfeld Follies, (1936.) She recorded several songs for Victor and Columbia. After her death, she posthumously received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for her 1921 recording of “My Man.”

At the age of 59, Fanny Brice died on May 29, 1951, of a cerebral hemorrhage, in Hollywood, California, depriving the world of her varied and abundant talents. She is most famously portrayed in the movies Funny Girl (1968) and Funny Lady (1975) by the incredibly talented, Barbara Streisand.

 

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!

 


Women in Show Business History – Clara Bow, It Girl

Named the first ever “It girl,” Clara Bow, America’s favorite flapper, made a huge impact in the roaring twenties and was known as one of the decade’s leading sex symbols.

Raised as an only child, (her two siblings before her died) Clara’s survival is nothing short of miraculous. The doctors warned Sarah Frances (Gordon) Bow, and Robert Walter Bow, not to have another child after the death of the first two. But Clara was destined for the world and was born one hot July day in 1905. A survivor from birth, Clara would spend the rest of her days fighting for her dreams of a good life and stardom.

Her existence was tough from the get-go as her parents, suffering from poverty, struggled to make ends meet. Her father stayed away from home most of the time, and when he returned, often verbally and physically abused (by some accounts)  his wife and Clara. Clara, outcast by the other girls because of her ragged clothes, carrot-colored hair, and tomboy ways much preferred the company of boys.

Often lonely and unhappy, Clara sought to escape from her fractious home life by going to the movies. She said of these forays into the darkened theater, “For the first time in my life I knew there was beauty in the world.”

Clara BowAt sixteen years old, she decided to pursue a career in film. Her father, probably seeing dollar signs in his future, encouraged her, but her mother did not agree with the decision. Against her mother’s wishes and at the urging of her father, Clara entered a nationwide acting contest called “Fame and Fortune” sponsored by a Brewster’s Publications Magazine in 1921.

Showing up in her tomboyish sweater, lackluster skirt, and with absolutely no experience, Clara’s chances of winning were slim. But when she turned on the emotion, she won the judges over. She walked away with a silver trophy and an evening gown. The magazine’s publisher vowed to help her secure roles in film, but nothing happened despite her father’s relentless pressure to pursue the offer. Finally, a female director named Christy Cabanne cast her in a movie called Beyond the Rainbow released in 1922.

After the contest, Clara dropped out of high school to pursue her dreams. Her work in Beyond the Rainbow led to another role in a movie called Down to the Sea in Ships. Clara felt she was on her way, but then tragedy struck. Her mother, suffering from psychosis and epilepsy, brought on by a head injury in her youth, struggled with her mental health. The roles of mother and daughter gradually became reversed and Clara, as a young girl, tried her best to take care of her mother during and after her epileptic fits. Her often absent father offered little help and left Clara alone to deal with her mother’s erratic fits of rage and temper. One night, during one of Sarah’s rages, Clara woke up to her mother holding a knife at her throat, screaming at her. Clara’s father soon had Sarah committed, separating the two. Even though Clara knew this act was in her best interest, it still caused her great distress. In 1923, Sarah died from her epilepsy.

That same year, Clara left her father and New York and headed for Hollywood. She secured several other silent film roles and charmed audiences with her perky personality and her natural,  bold sexuality. Her roles were comprised of working-class girls, showgirls, manicurists, etc. who had big ambitions in life. These characters often flew in the face of societal and sexual convention and pursued the life of partygoing, independence, and freedom. She portrayed the perfect, adorable and charming “flapper” and the motion picture world took notice.

In 1926 she signed her first big movie contract with Paramount Pictures, and in1927 she landed the role of poor, shop-girl Betty Lou Spence in the movie It, adapted from the novella written by author Elinor Glyn. The movie was an instant box office success and Clara Bow became Paramount’s most popular star, and America’s first “It girl.”

Clara Bow evening gownClara starred in 46 silent films, and despite her heavy Brooklyn accent and marginal singing voice, transitioned to “talkies” and starred in eleven more motion pictures. Her star burned bright, but at age 26, the actress burned out under the tremendous pressure put on her by the studios and her demanding schedule. She also showed signs of mental instability, much like her mother, no doubt brought on by her stressful career. Due to her status as a sex symbol, Clara was also the subject of many scandals. Women, jealous of the actress’s natural sex appeal often accused her publically of husband stealing. Although she had affairs with many men during her heyday, “husband stealing” was not in her repertoire.

In 1931, Clara retired from acting and married Rex Bell, a rancher from Texas. She dropped out of Hollywood and went to live with him on his ranch to recuperate. After returning to health, she re-entered Hollywood with a bang. Everyone wanted her. She signed a contract with Fox Film Corporation for a two-picture deal. Both films, Savage and Hoop-La were well received. She officially retired from acting two years later and devoted her life to her husband and sons.

But, Clara could not escape her demons. Her gradual slide into mental illness culminated in a suicide attempt in 1944. She checked herself into a psychiatric institute in 1949 where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and treated with electric shock therapy. When she was released, she did not return to the ranch but instead bought a modest bungalow where she lived out the rest of her days until she succumbed to a heart attack in 1965.

Clara Bow found a way out of her lonely childhood to become one of America’s best-loved film icons and the highest paid actress of her day. She influenced some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, and also the common woman who wanted to personify the loveable flapper with her “Clara Bow heart-shaped lips” and her charming down-to-earth realism and individuality. She will live on in the hearts and minds of many through the multitudes of photographs taken of her and what remains of her silent and “talking” films.

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!

 

Repost from Empowered Women in History, 2018

 


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Olive Thomas

Women in Show Business History – Olive Thomas, Tragic Beauty

Olive Thomas was born Olivia R. Duffy, October 20, 1894, to a working class Irish American family in Pennsylvania. To help support her family, she left school at 15 years of age.  At 16 she married Bernard Krush Thomas. The marriage lasted two years. After her divorce she moved to New York City, lived with a family member, and worked in a Harlem department store. In 1914, she won “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” contest and landed on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

Having caught the public’s attention, and the eye of the famous Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., Olive was hired to perform in his wildly popular Ziegfeld Follies. It wasn’t long before Olive had star billing in the Midnight Frolic, a show at one of Ziegfeld’s favored venues, the Roof Top Theater of the New Amsterdam Hotel. The Frolic catered primarily to well-known male patrons. The girls’ costumes, often just a few strategically arranged balloons, allowed amusement for the gentlemen who would pop the balloons with their cigars. The beauty of Olive Thomas became legendary and she was pursued by a number of wealthy men. She is said to have had “lovely violet-blue eyes, fringed with dark lashes that seemed darker because of the translucent pallor of her skin.”

Olive ThomasKnown for her beauty, Olive was also known for her wild ways. That free spiritedness became more pronounced when she became involved with Jack Pickford of the famous Pickford family. Alcohol and cocaine became part of her partying repertoire and it proved to be reckless. She had three automobile accidents in one year. After that, she hired a chauffeur.

Screenwriter Frances Marion later remarked, “…I had seen her often at the Pickford home, for she was engaged to Mary’s brother, Jack. Two innocent-looking children, they were the gayest, wildest brats who ever stirred the stardust on Broadway. Both were talented, but they were much more interested in playing the roulette of life than in concentrating on their careers.”

The marriage to Pickford caused much trouble for both parties. For Jack, his high-brow famous family did not approve of Olive’s work in the Frolics, and for Olive, her employer Florenz Ziegfeld accused Jack of taking her away from his entertainment dynasty. There were rumors that Flo and Olive were also romantically involved.

The relationship with Pickford could even have been said to contribute to her sudden death in 1920.  After a long night of dancing, drinking, and drugs, Olive and Jack went back to their hotel room. Suddenly, from the bathroom, Jack heard Olive scream, “Oh God!”  According to Jack’s account, Olive had accidentally drank from a bottle of something marked “poison”.  After a trip to the hospital and having her stomach pumped three times to no avail, Olive Thomas died. The autopsy stated that she died of a mixture of mercury bichloride and alcohol. Mercury bichloride was the prescribed tonic for Jack’s persistant and cronic syphyllis.

Olive Thomas had a short, but successful career. She worked for the Ziegfeld Follies and Midnight Frolic and she starred in over twenty motion pictures. She was also one of the first actresses to be termed “a flapper,” along with Clara Bow, Louise Brooks and Joan Crawford.

 

Repost from March 14, 2017

 

historical mystery book Grace in the wings Kari Bovee

Are you a historical fiction fan? Do you love the Roaring Twenties and a strong female lead? Check out my latest novel, Grace in the Wings!

 

 

painting Grace O'Malley

Irish Women in History – Grace O’Malley, Lady Pirate

Her Irish name is Gráinne Ní Mháille, and she is known as one of the most tenacious female pirates of the Emerald Isle.

Born of a noble family in 1530, Grace took over the lordship of the Ó Máille dynasty in the west of Ireland after the death of her father, despite having a brother. Not much is known of her childhood, but it is thought that she grew up at her family’s residence on Clare Island. She was most likely formally educated, as were all noble children of her time, and it is known that she spoke fluent Latin.

Grace O'Malley and menIn 1546, Grace married the heir to the O’Flaherty title, giving her more wealth and power. Her husband, Dónal an Chogaidh had aspirations of one day ruling all of Connacht, the area now known as Connemara. When her husband was killed in an ambush while hunting, Grace returned to her own lands on Clare Island where she established her principal residence. It is believed she took a shipwrecked sailor as her lover. He too was killed, and seeking revenge, Grace attacked the castle of Doona in Blacksod Bay, home to the murderers of her lover the MacMahons of Ballyvoy. She tracked them down and killed them on the nearby island of Cahir. The act earned her the nickname, “Dark Lady of Doona.”

Grace remarried, this time to “Iron Richard” Bourke, the 18thlord of Mac William Lochtar. But, she was still not done with the MacMahons. When she sailed for Ballyvoy this time, she attacked Doona Castle again, but this time took it as her own.

English might steadily grew in 16th Century Ireland, weakening O’Malley’s power. In 1593, her sons and half-brother were taken captive by the English governor of Connacht, Sir Richard Bingham, on the grounds that O’Malley was responsible for ‘nursing’ the Irish rebellions that had occurred for more than forty years.

O’Malley sailed to England to petition Queen Elizabeth I to release them. She showed up at Greenwich Palace dressed in her finest gown and met with the English monarch surrounded by English guards. When the guards searched O’Malley’s person, they found a dagger hidden in her dress. O’Malley stated she carried it for her own safety. Elizabeth nodded her approval, and let O’Malley approach her.

O'Malley and Elizabeth
sites.google.com

Refusing to acknowledge Elizabeth as the Queen of Ireland, O’Malley did not bow upon meeting the sovereign. Despite the affront, the two had a lively discussion in Latin, and came to an agreement. The prisoners were released, Bingham was removed from his position in Ireland, and O’Malley was to stop supporting Irish rebellions. However, some of O’Malley’s other requests remained unmet, and when Bingham returned to Ireland, Grace returned to supporting the Irish rebellions during the Nine Years War.

The date of her death is not known, but historians speculated it was in 1603, the same year of Elizabeth I’s death.

annie oakley mystery series kari bovee novel authorAre you a historical fiction fan? Do you love a good adventure and a strong female lead? Check out my Annie Oakley Mystery Series here!

 

 


Maria Edgeworth

Irish Women in History – Maria Edgeworth, the Irish Jane Austen

A prolific Anglo-Irish writer of adult and children’s literature, Maria Edgeworth was instrumental in the evolution of the novel in Europe. Many of her works featured the plight of the Irish, women’s issues, politics, and education. A contemporary of Jane Austen, she was also a friend and correspondent of famed literary and economic writers Sir Walter Scott and David Ricardo.

In her early childhood years, Maria spent most of her time with her mother and her mother’s family in Oxfordshire, England. When her mother passed away when she was five, Maria’s father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth married her aunt, (her mother’s sister) and the family moved to Edgeworth’s estate, Edgeworthstown in County Longford, Ireland.

While attending school in London, Maria, at 14 years old, became afflicted with an eye infection. Her father sent for her to return to Ireland, and Maria engaged in helping her father and step-mother with the raising of her younger siblings.

Home-tutored by her father in the study of law, Irish economics and politics, science, and literature, Maria showed much promise as an intellect. She also assisted her father in managing the estate where she would live and write for the rest of her life. Observing the details of daily Irish life, and collaborating academically with her father, Maria procured extensive material for her future novels. Her aunt on her father’s side, Margaret Ruxton of Black Castle encouraged Maria’s writings and supplied her with inspirational material such as the works of Anne Radcliffe and William Godwin.

After the death of his third wife, Richard married Frances Beaufort, a woman one year younger than 30-year-old Maria, and the two women became life-long friends. The family took to extensive traveling, and Maria began her writing in earnest. Her novels celebrated Irish culture and also highlighted the gradual anglicanization of feudal Irish society. In her novels, Maria also articulated education as the key to both individual and national improvement. She believed boy and girls should be educated equally and together, and that women should only marry whom they choose, or not at all.

Maria older yearsMaria was also passionate about Catholic Emancipation, agricultural reform, and improving the living standards of the poor. During the Irish Potato Famine she worked for the relief of the Irish peasants. Her efforts became well-known, and she even procured help and gifts for the poor of Ireland from America.

After her father’s death in 1817, Maria edited his memoirs and then added to them her biographical comments. She wrote until her own death in her eighties.

Even though her works were often criticized for being too moralistic, Maria soldiered on, becoming a prolific author, a defender of women and children, and an early innovator of the literary novel.

annie oakley mystery series kari bovee novel authorAre you a historical fiction fan? Do you love a good adventure and a strong female lead? Check out my Annie Oakley Mystery Series here!

 


pencil drawing catherine hayes

Irish Women in History – Catherine Hayes, The Victorian Pop Star

Catherine Hayes (not to be confused with the murderess of the same name) was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1818. Abandoned by her musician father at age 5, Catherine grew up in poverty with her mother and younger sister.

 While singing in the garden one day, the purity of twenty-year-old Catherine’s voice was heard by Edmund Knox, the Church of Ireland’s bishop of Limerick. Impressed by the quality of her voice, he helped to arrange funding to send the girl for vocal training. She and her mother traveled to Dublin where she studied under Antonio Sapio.

In her first appearance, she performed a duet with Sapio at a charitable fundraiser singing O’er Shepherd Pipe from the opera Joan of Arc. That first performance started a whirlwind tour and Hayes traveled to Milan, Marseilles, Vienna, and Venice for the next several years. In June of 1849 she sang for Queen Victoria and 500 of her esteemed guests at Buckingham Palace. So taken by the young soprano, the queen requested an encore. Loyal to the Irish cause, Catherine opted to sing the beautiful Irish rebellion song Kathleen Mavoureen.

 In 1851, Hayes toured America, performing in New York, Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, several cities in the American South, and over 40 other locations. The famed showman P.T. Barnum sponsored Hayes’ tour of California, and billed her as “The Swan of Erin.”

With her popularity at its height, Hayes fees to perform averaged around £650 per month, which is equivalent to $84,000 today. When she visited the well-to-do, yet semi-civilized California gold miners in their camps they bid up to £1150 ($167,000) to hear her sing. California had fallen in love with the Swan of Erin. They not only paid top dollar to attend one of her performances, they named a street after her – Kate Hayes Street—in Grass Valley.

Popular and loved across the globe, some historians have dubbed Miss Hayes the “Madonna” of her time.

annie oakley mystery series kari bovee novel authorAre you a historical fiction fan? Do you love a good adventure and a strong female lead? Check out my Annie Oakley Mystery Series here!