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Clara Colby: The International Suffragist
John Holliday. Tallai, $19.95 trade paper (402p) ISBN 978-0-648-68480-0
Holliday (Mission to China) offers a workmanlike biography of suffragist Clara Colby (1846–1916). Born in England, Clara suffered an early bout of cholera that meant she couldn’t immigrate with her family to Wisconsin in 1849. Raised as a beloved only grandchild in London, Colby had a solid emotional and intellectual foundation by the time she arrived at the Wisconsin frontier in 1855, which sustained her through a jam-packed and often stressful life. Straightforwardly and somewhat clunkily, Holliday describes how she became valedictorian for the first class of women to graduate from the University of Wisconsin, endured a dysfunctional marriage to a scandal-plagued politician, and enjoyed a career as a prominent suffragist and newspaper editor. Colby, a friend to Susan B. Anthony, also became a reluctant if loving parent to a Native American baby, Zintka Lanuni, who was orphaned in the Wounded Knee massacre. The book’s strength is in showing how Colby’s life intersected with the era’s politics, including as an invited participant in the British suffragist movement from 1910 to 1913. Though somewhat stolid and lacking in authorial voice, Holliday’s “just-the-facts” approach has the advantage of providing readers a wide berth to draw their own conclusions about Colby’s life. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 07/03/2020

Release date 12/01/2019