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.
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.
Katherine Black / Susan (Sooz) Simpson
Founder of Best Book Editors
Katherine has held almost every single job imaginable, from painting gnomes to zookeeper. She spent most of her life in the caring profession and has managed both a nursing home and a care agency. But her passion for the written language always brings her home to novel writing.
Born in Tyne-and-Wear, North-East England, she has settled in the beautiful Lake District, Cumbria, with her partner, two dogs, a cat, an iguana and a python (just don’t ask her which of those six things is her favourite!).
She specialises in content creation and social media outreach, and has been a developmental editor for hundreds of clients. She owns and operates bestbookeditors.com where she helps foundling authors polish their skills. However, after being diagnosed with a dramatic brain condition in 2022, she has had to let 23 staff go, and scale back the business. BBE is still very much open, we are just fewer and can’t take as much work on.
Katherine Black is the author of psychological thriller/detective/fantasy adventure novels.