Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Intrepid Women: Helen Rowland

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Loretta reports:
A PERFECT husband, who can find one?

For his price is far above gold bonds.

The grouch knoweth him not and his breakfast always pleaseth him. His mouth is filled with praises for his wife's cooking. He doth not expect chicken salad from left-over veal, neither the making of lobster patties from an ham-bone.

His wife is known within the gates, when she sitteth among the officers of her Club, by the fit of her gowns and her imported hats. He luncheth meagrely upon a sandwich that he may adorn her with fine jewels. He grumbleth not at the bills.

BEHOLD, my Daughter, the Lord maketh a man—but the wife maketh an husband.

For Man is but the raw material whereon a woman putteth the finishing touches.

Yea, and whatsoever pattern of husband thou selectest, thou shalt find him like unto a shop-made garment, which must be trimmed over and cut down, and ironed out, and built up to fit the matrimonial situation.

Verily, the best of husbands hath many raw edges, and many unnecessary pleats in his temper, and many wrinkles in his disposition, which must be removed.
This is a tiny sampling from The Sayings of Mrs. Solomon: Being the Confessions of the Seven Hundredth Wife as Revealed to Helen Rowland (1876-1950).  Published in 1913, it’s online at Google Books or you can buy it at Amazon.

I discovered Helen Rowland in the newspaper (fittingly, since she was a journalist) via a Quote for the Day amusing enough to make me to look her up.  Online one finds precious little.  In addition to the very stubby stub in Wikipedia, there’s a brief (early) bio in a 1914 Woman's Who's Who of America.  A 1928 New York Evening Journal booklet described her thusly: 

HELEN ROWLAND, Author “Meditations of a Wife”  Often referred to as America’s “Bernard Shaw,” and as America’s wittiest woman. Satire sparkles through her writings. Her observations on the foibles of men and women, the joys and sorrows of love and marriage, and the relief or the lack of it in divorce are always brilliant and entertaining, yet always “said with a smile.” Helen, like George Cohan, says: “I always leave ’em laughing when I say good-bye.”

Maybe the best way to get to know the eminently quotable Ms. Rowland is to read her—online at Project Gutenberg  or Google Books or buy your own copy (you can even get some of titles as ebooks).

And could someone please expand that Wikipedia stub?


Mme.Tresbeau said...

You ladies do discover the most interesting historical women to write about. Again you've found another who doesn't deserve to be forgotten. How could anyone who was described as America's George Bernard Shaw be lost? I intend to read some of her books, your sample makes her sound very amusing.

Felicity Flower said...

"the best of husbands hath many raw edges"

Historical Reminiscing with Marilyn said...

Or as a Friend of mine says "If a Man is worth being called a good Husband some Woman died to make him that way."

Penny said...

Is it my imagination or does it remind anyone of the proverb, Woman of Valor? I did enjoy it though

Jessica said...

That's my great-great aunt Helen! I think it'd be my responsibility to work on the stub, will get on that.

I keep a photo of her on my desk, and it's much more flattering than the commonly available one. Will see if I can't make that available as well.

Thanks for mentioning her. She inspires me daily, though I can't say I agree with all her opinions on men... ;)

LorettaChase said...

Jessica, she's a fabulous great-great aunt to have. Lucky you! And yes, please do expand the stub.

Unknown said...

I am working on my family tree! Gilbert claude lutz was her husband for a short time. He was my 3rd great grandfather. Would you happen to have any info about their marriage?! Anything info would be great!!

Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket