The book I worked on, Author Janet Wallach’s The Richest Woman in America, comes out next week. Based on research from primary sources and interviews, Janet weaves a lovely read about one woman’s business who lived at the turn of the 20th century against a backdrop of society that scorned her success. Think about it, how do people look at successful women in business today? They are described as aggressive, assertive and characteristically male. Imagine living at the time of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Huntington. There weren’t many, if any women, around their boardroom tables. And as for 19th century women captains of industry, there was Hetty.
This just in from Publisher’s Weekly - “Hetty Robinson Green (1834–1916) was as rich as Rockefeller, worth $100 million at her death. Born to an emotionally withholding Quaker family that instilled in her the value of both wealth and thrift, she grew her inheritance into a massive fortune through shrewd investments in greenbacks, struggling railroads, and real estate. Wallach (Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell) makes a strong case that Green’s Quaker family valued financial shrewdness over physical affection, shaping their daughter into a supremely confident woman who overruled her husband’s and children’s desires for independence and sued business adversaries as a matter of course. Green also defied expectations of a wealthy woman, dressing, eating, and living simply according to her “starched New England values.” Wallach successfully portrays a compelling woman who kept her eyes on the glittering financial prize, using a commonsense philosophy regarding real estate and investment throughout the 19th century’s Wall Street roller-coaster.”