Five Biographies for International Women's Day

March 8, 2012 | M. Elwood

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March 8 is International Women's Day.  What better way to celebrate than by reading a biography of an extraordinary woman?

Ada blackjack
Bride of science
Discovery of jeanne baret
Jane jacobs urban visionary
Martha gellhorn a life

Ada Blackjack: a True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven
The only woman on an ill-fated mission to settle remote Wrangel Island, cook and seamstress Ada Blackjack endured a two-year ordeal on the unforgiving land.  When a rescue party finally reached the island, she was the sole survivor.

The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter by Benjamin Woolley
The child of poet Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace's mathematical abilities became evident when she was a teenager. She created an algorithm for use with Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine and althought the Engine was not built in her lifetime, this work is considered the first computer program.

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: a Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe by Glynis Ridley
When her lover, botanist Philibert Commerson joined a French expedition set on circumnavigating the world, Jeanne Baret disguised herself as a teenage boy and became his assistant.

Jane Jacobs: Urban Visionary by Alice Sparberg Alexiou
Jane Jacobs was a writer and activist whose books like The Death and Life of Great American Cities had a tremendous influence on urban planning and development.

Martha Gellhorn: a Life by Caroline Moorehead
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gellhorn became a journalist and one of the most respected war correspondents in the 20th century, reporting on virtually all world conflicts from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam during her 60 year career.

This is only a small sample of the many books at Toronto Public Library about fascinating women.  Ask staff at your local branch for additional suggestions.