The Liberation of Winifred Bryan Horner: Writer, Teacher, and Women's Rights Advocate

The Liberation of Winifred Bryan Horner: Writer, Teacher, and Women's Rights Advocate

The Liberation of Winifred Bryan Horner: Writer, Teacher, and Women's Rights Advocate

The Liberation of Winifred Bryan Horner: Writer, Teacher, and Women's Rights Advocate


This inspiring tale of grit and determination sprinkled with humor, wit, and a taste of irony is the story of Winifred Bryan Horner's journey from a life of domesticity on the family farm after World War II to becoming an Endowed Professor. Her compelling story is one of a woman's fight for equal rights and her ultimate success at a time when women were openly deemed "less than" men in the professional world.

Winifred, a professional writer and consummate storyteller known to friends and family as Win, always assumed she would write her own memoir. But after retiring from teaching, she found that she could never find the time or inspiration to sit down and record the pivotal stories of her remarkable 92 years of life. Colleague and mentee Elaine J. Lawless devised a plan to interview Win about her life and allow her to tell stories with the intention that Win would edit the transcriptions into her memoir. Over four months, Elaine visited Win on Wednesdays to interview her about her life. Sadly, just one week after the conclusion of the final interview, Win unexpectedly passed away, before Elaine could give her the final transcripts. With the support of Win's family, Elaine set out to finish this book on Win's behalf.

Win's story is one that will inspire and resonate with women as they continue to work toward equality in the world.


For months, I have been spending my days sifting through the stacks of Win Horner’s folders and boxes. They moved into my study immediately after her death in early February 2014, and they continue to dominate the small space in my home. I feel her presence here. the room has become a kind of makeshift altar dedicated to her life, a littered space with stacks of her papers, photographs, articles she wrote, articles written about her, her obituary (which she wrote herself), scraps of notes scattered on every surface, including the floor. Mostly I know what is in each stack, and am sometimes reminded by the color of a binder or a folder. There are leaning towers of old newspaper articles, carbon copies of letters, stories about the farm, all weathered to a dull, brittle brown. I have to be careful or they will crumble if I handle them, or, horrors, the date might fall off. Folders hold her many files, notes, and calendars—along with tucked-in photos of her children, grandchildren, her husband Dave, his dogs, and the farm. Win documented her life in all its complexity, all its messiness. Some days I just sit on the floor surrounded by this material proof of Win’s life and wonder at the task before me. I sneeze when I open the folders; my fingers are black from the carbons of the many, many pages she typed on her old manual typewriter; I try to sort through everything and make some sense of a life well-lived and thoroughly documented.

This book is not a memoir in the conventional sense of that term. Win Horner did not write this book. Rather, Win agreed to orally relate her life story and stories to me for me to record. When we first began our . . .

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