How is it that we do not already know about this remarkable, courageous woman of 19th century America, who advocated for the rights of women and those accused of insanity, and was a contemporary to such feminist lights as Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony? Kudos and gratitude to Kate Moore for this gift of an intelligent and sensitive history told with the riveting energy of a gripping novel.
"Moore has written a masterpiece of nonfiction."—Nathalia Holt, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls
1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened—by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.
The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they've been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line—conveniently labeled "crazy" so their voices are ignored.
No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose...
Bestselling author Kate Moore brings her sparkling narrative voice to The Woman They Could Not Silence, an unputdownable story of the forgotten woman who courageously fought for her own freedom—and in so doing freed millions more. Elizabeth's refusal to be silenced and her ceaseless quest for justice not only challenged the medical science of the day, and led to a giant leap forward in human rights, it also showcased the most salutary lesson: sometimes, the greatest heroes we have are those inside ourselves.
"The Woman They Could Not Silence is a remarkable story of perseverance in an unjust and hostile world."—Susannah Cahalan, New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Author's Note xvii
Part 1 Brave New World 3
Part 2 Dark before the Dawn 119
Part 3 My Pen Shall Rage 161
Part 4 Deal with the Devil? 231
Part 5 Turning Points 267
Part 6 She Will Rise 359
Reading Group Guide 454
A Conversation with the Author 457
Selected Bibliography 463
Picture Acknowledgments 473
About the Author 539