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Salute to International Women’s Day! Selected Biographies and Memoirs of Women

March 8, 2013 | John P. | Comments (0)

On March 8, the world celebrates International Women’s Day and Canadians and the Government of Canada are no exception. Toronto Public Library offers customers the opportunity to borrow materials of interest on a wide variety of topics, including biographies and memoirs of different people. As the list of accomplished and interesting individuals is extensive, it is possible to offer only a selected list of titles at a given time.


Agnes Macphail champion of the underdog

Agnes Macphail: champion of the underdog / Rachel Wyatt, 2000.

The first women elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1921 and one of the first two women elected to the Ontario Legislature, Agnes Macphail championed women’s equality, equal pay for work of equal value, prison reform, pensions, peace, and workers’ rights.



Alva Myrdal the passionate mind

Alva Myrdal: the passionate mind / Yvonne Hirdman, 2008.

Social scientist Myrdal helped to develop Sweden’s welfare state, fostered educational innovations, promoted human rights, served as Sweden’s first female ambassador, and became a strong proponent of nuclear disarmament for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982.



Extraordinary ordinary people a memoir of family

Extraordinary, ordinary people: a memoir of family / Condoleezza Rice, 2010.

The former National Security Advisor and former Secretary of State of the George W. Bush administration looked back at her grandparents, her Presbyterian minister father and her teacher mother who instilled in Condoleezza the importance of education, and her own life up to the year 2000.

Also available in Audiobook, eAudiobook, and eBook formats.



The Golden Cage Three Brothers Three Choices One Destiny

The golden cage: three brothers, three choices, one destiny / Shīrīn ʻIbādī (Shirin Ebadi), 2011.

The Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner, lawyer, judge, and human rights activist was raised in an egalitarian family in which she was treated as an equal with her brothers. Her story intertwined with that of her best friend Pari. Ebadi related how Pari’s three brothers followed three different paths (supporting the Shah, becoming an extremist, and serving in the military) that destroyed that family’s fabric. One cannot help but feel sympathy for Pari, her mother, and women in general in the context of the day.



A great restlessness the lfie and politics of Dorise Nielsen

A great restlessness: the life and politics of Dorise Nielsen / Faith Johnston, 2006.

Dorise Nielsen was the only woman elected to Canada’s House of Commons in the 1940 general election as an Unity candidate (read: Communist). As a single parent, her family life suffered as she embarked upon a political career but strived to be both a good mother and a good revolutionary. Facing marginalization within the Labour Progressive Party by younger male colleagues, Nielsen emigrated to the People’s Republic of China in 1957.



The Lady and the Peacock the life of Aung San Suu Kyi

The lady and the peacock: the life of Aung San Suu Kyi / Peter Popham, 2011.

Aung San Suu Kyi has shown remarkable courage in defying a military junta that placed her under house arrest and that refused to recognize the win of her National League for Democracy party in general elections in Burma in 1990. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner endured separation from her family, made all the more painful by the death of her English-born husband in 1999.

Also available in Chinese language.



Letters to My Daughters a memoir

Letters to my daughters: a memoir / Fawzia Koofi, 2011. Also available in eBook format.

Afghanistani politician Fawzia Koofi recounted the recent history of Afghanistan and the challenges placed upon it and its people by the Mujahedeen and the Taliban. Her politician father was murdered by the Mujahedeen so her illiterate mother took the family away with Fawzia encountering danger just to attend school as a youngster. Now as a politician, she fights injustice towards women and other people at considerable risk to herself.



Lillian Gilbreth redefining domesticity

Lillian Gilbreth: redefining domesticity / Julie Des Jardins , 2013.

Lillian Gilbreth was able to excel as both a mother and as an industrial engineer (specializing in home economics and domestic management) in the early twentieth century. She collaborated with husband Frank Gilbreth to offer a more humane version of F.W. Taylor’s principles of scientific management.



Marie Curie and her daughters the private lives of science's first family

Marie Curie and her daughters: the private lives of science’s first family / Shelley Emling, 2012.

Polish-born Marie Curie’s wins of both the Nobel Prizes in Physics (with husband Pierre) and Chemistry speak for themselves as indicators of an accomplished scientist. However, her daughters were also accomplished individuals with Irene also a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry (whose work contributed to the development of the atomic bomb) and Eve, a well-regarded humanitarian and journalist.


My sister Rosalind Franklin

My sister Rosalind Franklin / Jenifer Glynn, 2012.

The untimely death of Rosalind Franklin in 1958 prevented her from becoming a Nobel Prize laureate but her contribution of X-ray diffraction images led to the identification of DNA by Francis Crick and James D. Watson and should not be downplayed.



Nancy the story of Lady Astor

Nancy: the story of Lady Astor / Adrian Fort, 2013.

Read this 2013 biography of American-born Nancy Astor who became Great Britain’s first woman Member of Parliament who served for 25 years in the House of Commons. Being friends with isolationist Charles Lindbergh detracted from Lady Astor’s and her husband’s image.



No higher honor a memoir of my years in Washington

No higher honor: a memoir of my years in Washington / Condoleezza Rice, 2011.

Dr. Rice, an expert in Russian and East European affairs, served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under United States President George W. Bush. She offered an accounting of current affairs and foreign policy from her lens, including the events and aftermath of 9/11.

Also available in eBook, eAudiobook, and eAudiobook formats.




Persuasion / Arlene Dickinson, 2011.

One of the Dragons on CBC’s Dragons' Den, Arlene Dickinson, a successful businesswoman, also recounted her earlier days when things were not going as well.



Seduced by logic Émilie du Châtelet Mary Somerville and the Newtonian revolution

Seduced by logic: Émilie du Châtelet, Mary Somerville, and the Newtonian revolution / Robyn Arianrhod, 2012.

Read this dual biography of two outstanding women of science, Émilie du Châtelet (1706-1749) and Mary Somerville (1780-1872), who understood the importance of Isaac Newton’s theories on gravity and what they did to validate them.



Unbowed a memoir

Unbowed: a memoir / Wangari Maathai, 2006.

Academic, conservationist, and political activist Wangari Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize over her efforts to establish the Green Belt Movement first in Kenya and later across Africa as a means of encouraging reforestation and helping rural women by paying them to plant trees in their surroundings. She became a Member of Parliament and an assistant Minister of the Environment in Kenya.



White Rose of Stalingrad

The white rose of Stalingrad: the real-life adventure of Lidiya Vladimirovna Litvyak, the highest scoring female air ace of all time / Bill Yenne, 2013.

Women served in active combat roles in the Soviet armed forces during World War Two. Lidiya Vladimirovna Litvyak was no exception and became an air ace during the battle of Stalingrad in 1942-1943. She became a heroine for the Soviet media for a time until she went missing in action on August 1, 1943 for which she became a non-person. Her purported remains were found in 1979 and she was rehabilitated by Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s.


Women in power the personalities and leadership styles of Indira Gandhi Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher

Women in power: the personalities and leadership styles of Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, and Margaret Thatcher / Blema S. Steinberg, 2008.

The author used psychological leadership studies and conventional personality assessments to frame the study of leadership using the three examples of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.


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