Wise Women

Article excerpt

For her new book, Wise Women: A Celebration of Their Insights, Courage and Beauty (Boston: Bullfinch-Little Brown, 2002), Joyce Tenneson took the photograph shown here of former Martha Graham dancer Mary Hinkson Jackson at age 76. Tenneson crisscrossed the United States to interview and photograph vigorous older women to help dispel American culture's negative attitude toward elders and bring greater recognition to "the energy, vitality, wisdom and deep beauty possible in these later years."

Among the women included in the book are both those famous and those unknown to the public. The text for each is spare but incisive. Jackson recalls, "Martha Graham used to say flexibility is easy, but to release meaning is what is important." The penetrating gaze of actress Patricia Neal, 75, is accompanied by her comment that only nine months after winning her Oscar, "I had a massive stroke. I was at the peak of my powers. I was angry, but stubbornness helped me get through." Brooke Astor, 98, remarks, "I grow more intense as I age, and I am more passionate about the projects I believe in. …