Doodle-Worthy Women of August 2013

I’m really excited about the amazing women I’ve had the opportunity to learn about while preparing this month’s post. Let’s jump right in and take a look at 5 incredible women born in the month of August. Each one, in her own way, made history but none have (yet!) been honored with a Google Doodle:

Susie King Taylor, born August 6, 1848, was the author of the only published memoir of the Civil War from the perspective of an African American woman. She served as a nurse for the Union Army, after organizing a school for freedmen on a Union-occupied island off the coast of Georgia. She traveled and worked for three years with the 33rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment, inspiring her to write Reminiscences of My Life in Camp. The full text of the book is available online from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Documenting the American South project.

Portrait of Susie King Taylor.

Portrait of Susie King Taylor.

Esther Williams, born August 8, 1921, recently passed away on June 6, 2013, following a long career in entertainment. She started out as a competitive swimmer, winning several US National Championships. Next, she performed in an Aquacade, which launched an initially water-themed movie career; in these early musicals, Williams performed as a diver and a synchronized, choreographed swimmer. Williams went on to become a tremendous financial success for MGM. By the 1960s, she had retired from acting and pursued other business ventures, including lines of swimsuits and aquatic accessories.

MGM publicity photo of Esther Williams, circa 1950.

MGM publicity photo of Esther Williams, circa 1950.

P.L. Travers, born August 9, 1899, was the author of the children’s series that introduced the world to Mary Poppins. The first book was published in 1934, and the eighth (and last) came out in 1988 when Travers was 89 years old. This December, keep an eye out for the film Saving Mr. Banks (starring Emma Thompson as Travers, and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney), all about the adaptation of Mary Poppins to the film version we all grew up with.

P.L. Travers performing in A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1924, in an early career before she worked full-time as a writer.

P.L. Travers performing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1924, in an early career before she worked full-time as a writer.

Alice Bradley Sheldon, born August 24, 1915, was a famed science fiction writer (and inductee to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame) who wrote primarily under a male pseudonym. You’ll notice, in fact, that her Wikipedia entry identifies her as James Tiptree Jr., because of their editorial policy of listing people by the name, alias, or pseudonym by which they are best known. Prior to becoming a professional writer, she served as a Major in the Air Force, worked for the CIA, and earned a doctorate in Experimental Psychology. Her writing earned her Hugo, Nebula, and Jupiter awards.  Now, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award is given annually to recognize science fiction literature that explores gender.

Amrita Pritam, born August 31, 1919, was a Punjabi writer who worked in many forms of media, from poetry to essays to the cataloging of folk songs. Her works total more than 100 books including an autobiography. She’s considered the best of the 20th century Punjabi poets, a voice for the experience of Punjabi women, and a chronicler of India’s partition period. Pritam managed to be both extremely popular as an artist and critically acclaimed. Pritam was honored with India’s second-highest civilian honor (the Padma Vibhushan) and the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship recognizing lifetime achievements of Indian women and men of letters.

Amrita Pritam, photographed in 1948.

Amrita Pritam, photographed in 1948.

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