January 25, 2016
The best reporter in America
Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly
by Sue Macy
A woman's mission in life is to be a helpmate to a man.
So wrote Erasmus Wilson of the Pittsburg (sic) Dispatch in 1885. His views didn't sit well with twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth Cochran, who wrote an angry letter to the editor. Having witnessed her mother in financial difficulties, Elizabeth argued that women needed opportunities to earn a living. Her passion led to a career as a female reporter under the byline Nellie Bly.
Nellie used her newspaper columns to advocate for the rights of working women, expose the conditions inside a psychiatric hospital, and even criticize the government of Mexico. But what she's most famous for is her trip around the world in 72 days. No one thought she could do it; she'd need a chaperone and lots of luggage. Nellie not only travelled alone, she only used two small satchels!
Nellie comes alive in this excellent biography by Sue Macy. She really captures the tenor of the times and Nellie's independent spirit.