Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times-Volume 2

By Gentry, Marshall Bruce | Flannery O'Connor Review, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times-Volume 2


Gentry, Marshall Bruce, Flannery O'Connor Review


Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times-Volume 2. Ed. Ann Short Chirhart and Kathleen Ann Clark. Athens, Georgia, and London: University of Georgia Press, 2014. xiii + 438 pp. [$89.95] cloth, [$29.95] paper.

Women do not have it easy in the state of Georgia. This collection of historical essays on eighteen significant women analyzes the ways in which women in general have struggled, not entirely successfully though sometimes valiantly, within Georgia's cultural constraints.

Volume 2 in this two-volume series basically starts around the turn from the 19th to the 20th century and basically ends in the 1980s. Each essay interprets in condensed form-usually around twenty pages-the story of a life. While one might not expect to pinpoint fresh information within a short essay about an extremely famous person (Most readers will perhaps already know the basics about the lives of Mary Hambidge, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Lillian Smith, Margaret Mitchell, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor, Coretta Scott King, Rosalynn Carter, and Alice Walker.), it is instructive to revisit the lives of these extremely famous women in the context of the struggles and successes of the interesting but somewhat less famous women also presented here: Lugenia Burns Hope, Vara A. Majette (who published in 1924 a novel about race with the intriguing title White-Blood), Lucy May Stanton, Catherine Evans Whitener (the subject of an essay that makes clear the significance of the peacock to the Georgia bedspread industry), Viola Ross Napier, Frances Freeburn Pauley, Kathryn Dunaway, Hazel June Raines, and Mabel Murphy Smythe.

The authors of the eighteen essays-including Rosemary M. Magee, Steve Goodson, John C. Inscoe, Kathleen Ann Clark, Kathryn L. Nasstrom, Carlos Dews, Glenn T. Eskew, Scott Kaufman, and Deborah G. Plant-are uniformly well qualified, and much original research has gone into the volume.

I should mention that Volume 1 of the Georgia Women series, about women from earlier Georgia history, is interesting too. The last three essays in that collection are about figures who are especially relevant to the study of Flannery O'Connor. The discussion of Martha Berry, the founder of Berry College in Rome, Georgia, is instructive about educational opportunities for women. Corra Harris was a very conservative writer on the subjects of race and religion. And Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, had a home very close to O'Connor's childhood home in Savannah.

For readers of this journal, however, the most significant article is clearly in Volume 2 of Georgia Women-. …

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