Best Book Editors

Review of One Woman's Voice by Thomas Leverette

Book Blurb

Elizabeth Mansfield Irving was born in New York State just before the Civil War, when elocution (speaking well and effectively) was a national pastime, and she loved to recite poems and speak. As a woman, she was somewhat limited in what she could do, but she was successful at reciting poetry at veterans’ reunions and encampments, and made a national reputation as reader, particularly the poetry of her friend Kate Brownslee Sherwood. She also ran her husband’s insurance business and taught elocution in Toledo over many decades. Through her life we can learn about the age of elocutionists (influenced by Delsarte) and the era when women found their voice, not only through suffrage but also through studying and learning elocution.

Best Book Editors Review

One Woman’s Voice by Thomas Leverette

A remarkable book about a remarkable lady. It’s one thing to write a memoir or autobiography because you write your experience—and it’s similarly simple to write a biography for a stranger. You write about their experience. However, tackling a biography for a family member can take you into a different realm of responsibility. In this case, the lady in question is deceased, but even so, it’s clear from the careful expression that the author cared deeply about portraying her in just the right light.

The writing is beautiful and so well researched and thought about. And what a woman. This story is all about a lady who found her voice. She found it, she perfected it—and then she used it. It was her tool and her weapon to break through social and ecconomic prejudice in a man’s world.

We all know Emmeline Pankhurst and, in a different world, Rosa Parks, but what about Elizabeth, Mansfield Irving, elocutionist, patriot and woman’s rights pioneer? This is her story—and what a story. One of many women who paved the way for the freedom of women today.

Handled with delicacy and love, her great-grandson takes her baton and runs. Wonderful writing.



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