The life and times of Helena Blavatsky, the controversial religious guru who cofounded the Theosophical Society and kick-started the New Age movement.

Recklessly brilliant, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky scandalized her 19th century world with a controversial new religion that tried to synthesize Eastern and Western philosophies. If her contemporaries saw her as a freak, a charlatan, and a snake oil salesman, she viewed herself as a special person born for great things. She firmly believed that it was her destiny to enlighten the world. Rebelliously breaking conventions, she was the antithesis of a pious religious leader. She cursed, smoked, overate, and needed to airbrush out certain inconvenient facts, like husbands, lovers, and a child.

Marion Meade digs deep into Madame Blavatsky’s life from her birth in Russia among the aristocracy to a penniless exile in Europe, across the Atlantic to New York where she became the first Russian woman naturalized as an American citizen, and finally moving on to India where she established the international headquarters of the Theosophical Society in 1882. As she chased from continent to continent, she left in her aftermath a trail of enthralled followers and the ideas of Theosophy that endure to this day. While dismissed as a female messiah, her efforts laid the groundwork for the New Age movement, which sought to reconcile Eastern traditions with Western occultism. Her teachings entered the mainstream by creating new respect for the cultures and religions of the East—for Buddhism and Hinduism—and interest in meditation, yoga, gurus, and reincarnation.

Madame Blavatsky was one of a kind. Here is her richly bizarre story told with compassion, insight, and an attempt to plumb the truth behind those astonishing accomplishments. 
Dorothy Parker biographer Marion Meade shares insight into the last days in the life of Dorothy Parker—the horrible and the hilarious—including her colorful friendship with Lillian Hellman, and the bizarre afterlife of Parker’s remains from a file cabinet on Wall Street to a small burial site by the NAACP office in Baltimore.

The Volney was a dignified residence hotel, favored by older women and their dogs, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Dorothy Parker died there, of a heart attack, on June 7, 1967. She was seventy-three and had been famous for almost half a century. As befitted a much-loved humorist, poet, and storywriter, the New York Times announced her exit in a front-page obituary. This was followed by a star-studded memorial service, also reported in the paper, which was attended by some 150 of her friends and admirers. More than twenty years later, on October 20, 1988, Parker was buried in Baltimore, in a memorial garden at the national headquarters of the NAACP. Why did it take more than two decades for Dorothy Parker to get a decent burial? What accounts for her macabre Edgar Allan Poe–style ending, arguably one of the most ghoulish in modern literary history? And just what happened to her during those twenty-one years?

Dorothy Parker biographer Marion Meade draws from new research to portray Parker in her last years and last days, with an emphasis on her posthumous existence. The story also features Parker’s enduring friendship of over thirty years with playwright and screenwriter Lillian Hellman, along with other notable figures in Parker’s circle, including Dashiell Hammett and John O’Hara. Always riotous and occasionally ghastly, The Last Days is utterly and completely Dorothy Parker.
Victoria Woodhull is a historical figure too often ignored and undervalued by historians. Although she never achieved political power, her actions and her presence on the political scene helped begin to change the way Americans thought about the right to vote, particularly women’s suffrage, and she set the stage for political emancipations to come throughout the twentieth century.

Woodhull was a product of and a revolutionary within the socially conservative Victorian era, which predominated in the United States as much as it did in England. She was an anomaly within her time, an unlikely and unconventional woman. She came from a background of poverty and her careers prior to entering politics included fortune‐telling, acting, being a stock broker, journalism, and lecturing on women’s rights. She ran for president of the United States in 1872. At that time, she had twice been divorced and she outraged even the feminists of her day by refusing to confine her campaign to the issue of women’s suffrage. She advocated a single sexual standard for men and women, legalization of prostitution, reform of the marriage and family institutions, and “free love.” She shocked a nation largely because her plain‐speaking was designed to expose the endemic hypocrisy of “respectable” people in society.

Marion Meade has created a vivid picture of the colorful figure that was Victoria Woodhull, but she also fully portrays the era in which she lived, in all of its truest and often most unflattering colors. She makes the 1870s read in many ways like the 1970s, not just because Victoria Woodhull was far ahead of her own time but also because many people in the present era are still culturally behind the times.
“A psychologically nuanced, tough-minded portrait” of the New York filmmaker and his relationships with Mia Farrow and Soon-Yi Previn (Publishers Weekly).

Writer, director, actor, humorist. Woody Allen stands as one of our era’s most celebrated artists. Starting in the 1950s, Allen began crafting a larger‐than‐life neurotic persona that has since entertained and enlightened millions. In his films, widely thought to be autobiographical explorations of his own comic fears and fixations, Allen carefully controlled the public’s view of him as a lovable scamp. But that all came crashing down the day Mia Farrow found a Polaroid on her mantle. What followed was a flurry of sensational headlines and legal battles. His relationship with Soon‐Yi Previn, thirty-four years his junior and the step‐daughter of his longtime girlfriend, caused shockwaves in the public’s perception of the director, yet few biographers and journalists have explored what happened and why.

In this, the first deep investigation of Allen’s life and the events surrounding his split with Farrow, biographer Marion Meade tracks down dozens of friends, actors, neighbors, and film historians. They open up with insights and details rare in the world of wealth and celebrity. What results is a fascinating portrait of a flawed genius, as adept at constructing his own image as he is at crafting films. Rereleased and updated, this is an unauthorized biography that neither Woody Allen’s fans nor his detractors will be able to put down. The revised and updated edition was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal in 2013 by Carl Rollyson, in a roundup of the five best Hollywood biographies.
A “breezily entertaining” look at the comic couple who hobnobbed with Dorothy Parker, S. J. Perelman, Bennett Cerf, and other luminaries of their day (The New York Times Book Review).

Nathanael West—author, screenwriter, playwright—was famous for two masterpieces: Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust, which remains one the most penetrating novels ever written about Hollywood. He was also one of the most gifted and original writers of his generation, a scathing satirist whose insight into the brutalities of modern life proved prophetic.
 
Eileen McKenney—accidental muse, literary heroine—grew up corn-fed in the Midwest and moved to Manhattan’s Greenwich Village when she was twenty-one. The inspiration for her sister Ruth’s stories in the New Yorker under the banner of “My Sister Eileen,” she became an overnight celebrity, and her star eventually crossed with that of the man she would impulsively marry.
 
Together, Nathanael and Eileen had entrée into a social circle that included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dashiell Hammett, Katharine White, and many of the literary, theatrical, and film luminaries of the era. But their carefree, offbeat Broadway-to-Hollywood love story would flame out almost as soon as it began. Now, with “a great marriage of scholarship and gossip” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune), this biography restores West and McKenney to their rightful place in the popular imagination, offering “a shrewd portrait of two people who in their different ways were noteworthy participants in American culture during one of its liveliest periods” (Los Angeles Times).
 
“Opens a window onto the lives of writers in 1930s America as they struggled with anxieties, pretensions, temptations and myths that confound our culture to this day.” —Salon.com
 
“The first to fully chronicle and entwine these careening lives, Meade forges an engrossing, madcap, and tragic American story of ambition, reinvention, and risk.” —Booklist, starred review
In her exuberant new work, BOBBED HAIR AND BATHTUB GIN, Marion Meade presents a portrait of four extraordinary writers--Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber--whose loves, lives, and literary endeavors embodied the spirit of the 1920s.

Capturing the jazz rhythms and desperate gaiety that defined the era, Meade gives us Parker, Fitzgerald, Millay, and Ferber, traces the intersections of their lives, and describes the men (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edmund Wilson, Harold Ross, and Robert Benchley) who influenced them, loved them, and sometimes betrayed them. Here are the social and literary triumphs (Parker's Round Table witticisms appeared almost daily in the newspapers and Ferber and Millay won Pulitzer Prizes) and inevitably the penances each paid: crumbled love affairs, abortions, depression, lost beauty, nervous breakdowns, and finally, overdoses and even madness.

These literary heroines did what they wanted, said what they thought, living wholly in the moment. They kicked open the door for twentieth-century women writers and set a new model for every woman trying to juggle the serious issues of economic independence, political power, and sexual freedom. Meade recreates the excitement, romance, and promise of the 1920s, a decade celebrated for cultural innovation--the birth of jazz, the beginning of modernism--and social and sexual liberation, bringing to light, as well, the anxiety and despair that lurked beneath the nonstop partying and outrageous behavior.

A vibrant mixture of literary scholarship, social history, and scandal, BOBBED HAIR AND BATHTUB GIN is a rich evocation of a period that will forever intrigue and captivate us.
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