Books & Book Reviews

(In chronological order starting from the most recent.)

Madame Presidentess (Fiction)   
Nicole Evelina, 2016.

This novel, like many of the recent novels, appears to be inspired the most by Barbara Goldsmith’s biography, “Other Powers,” which is the most inaccurate of all the Woodhull biographies.  The novelist claims her book adheres closely to history but that’s difficult to believe when she has an adult Josie Mansfield performing with Victoria in San Francisco around 1855-1856.  In reality Josie Mansfield would’ve been 9 years old or younger during the time Evelina has Mansfield inform Victoria that her son is an “idiot.” It would be more accurate to say the novelist adheres closely to Barbara Goldsmith.  The one area where the novel diverges from Goldsmith’s interpretation is on the topic of sexual abuse.  Evelina chooses to depict Victoria’s father Buck as physically but not sexually abusive which is closer to the historical record but disputed by Victoria’s siblings.  The novel begins with Victoria’s childhood in Homer, Ohio, and ends with her January 1873 speech at Cooper Union in New York City.  There’s an afterword by the author that provides a small slice of what happened to Victoria after the novel ends. The author also has notes to explain some of her choices in constructing her narrative the way she did. The book won first place in the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Renegade Queen (Fiction)
Eva Flynn, 2015.

The author’s notes say “Victoria’s life is open to interpretation, and I have taken the sympathetic view.”  The novel opens with “I was conceived in a whore’s tent at a Methodist Revival.”  Imagine what the first sentence would’ve been if she had taken the unsympathetic view! The first chapter of Renegade Queen was obviously inspired by Barbara Goldsmith’s fabricated account of Victoria’s conception. (Flynn is not the first writer to be misled by Goldsmith’s conception story and likely won’t be the last.) The Renegade Queen followed Goldsmith’s lead in portraying Buck Claflin as a sexual abuser and uses sexual abuse as a theme to demonstrate the wretched state of Victorian society. The novel covers Victoria’s life from her conception until she sails to England in 1877.  In some respects the book is a romance of Victoria Woodhull and her second husband Colonel Blood.  He’s portrayed as the “Hero of Vicksburg” based on his service in the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou. The novel received the 2016 IPPY Gold Medal for Adult Fiction.

Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume One: Rise to Riches (Fiction)
Neal Katz, 2015.

Outrageous has a unique distinction as an example of the phenomenon of spirit channeling.  The author genuinely believes that he channeled the spirit of Victoria Woodhull and others while writing this book. The details provided about the birth of Victoria’s daughter Zula suggest that the author was actually channeling the spirit of Barbara Goldsmith who was very much alive at the time this book was written.  Both Katz and Goldsmith have Zula born in a tenement at 53 Bond Street. That would be as ridiculous as saying someone was born in a tenement on Fifth Avenue near Central Park. Prior to the Civil War Bond Street was the enclave of the rich in New York City.  By the time Zula was born the character of the neighborhood was shifting to a middle class and professional neighborhood of doctors and lawyers.  The rich were abandoning Bond Street for Fifth Avenue, but the Bond Street neighborhood  definitely wasn’t a poor one in 1861.  Because this book was inspired by Barbara Goldsmith, it depicts Buck as a sexual abuser in ways some readers may find disturbing.  Katz chose to write his novel as a series, which is probably a good choice as Victoria’s life was so rich and complicated it’s not conducive to a short narrative.  The novel has won multiple awards: 2016 Winner of Best New Fiction in the International Book Awards, a Ben Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association, the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book by a Publisher, and the IPPY Award for Best Historical Fiction. It was a finalist in the Historical Fiction category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and a second place winner of the IndieReader Discovery Award for best Fiction.

Crossing Swords: Mary Baker Eddy vs. Victoria Claflin Woodhull and the Battle for the Soul of Marriage (Non-Fiction)
Cindy Peyser Safronoff, 2015.

Crossing Swords compares and contrasts the views of Christian Scientist Mary Baker Eddy and Spiritualist Victoria Woodhull on the topics of love and marriage.  Instead of hiding her bias, the author readily admits up front that she’s a Christian Scientist which makes her more sympathetic to the views of Eddy but doesn’t detract from the book. The book begins with a history of religion and marriage in the United States before it gets down to the culture war exemplified by the views of Eddy and Woodhull.  Unlike Goldsmith’s book the citations are actually usable.  The book is slim compared to other non-fiction books about Victoria, but the author is working on an expanded volume that will cover Eddy’s continued war against “Free Love” and the shift of some Spiritualists to Christian Science.

The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age (Non-Fiction)
Myra MacPherson, 2014.

The Scarlet Sisters is a biography of Victoria Claflin Woodhull and her rambunctious sister Tennessee Claflin. While there’s some information about the life of Tennessee that didn’t appear in previous biographies, much of what’s written about Victoria seems to be a recap of all the biographies that have come before it.  For those who haven’t read a biography about Victoria Woodhull, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those who know nothing about Victoria Woodhull would enjoy it. It’s a more accurate introduction to Victoria Woodhull than Barbara Goldsmith’s “Other Powers.” For those who have read extensively about Victoria and are craving new stories, the book would be a disappointment. It doesn’t break new ground the way Amanda Frisken or Lois Beachy Underhill did.  The Scarlet Sisters’ strength is reflecting on the Claflin sister’s past struggle for women’s rights in order to shed light on today’s feminist issues. Although the author appropriately slammed some of Goldsmith’s research, she was not immune to the insidious Goldsmith virus as seen by her incorrect speculation about “Madam Kate Woods.”

The Coming Woman: A Novel Based on the Life of the Infamous Feminist, Victoria Woodhull  (Fiction)
Karen J. Hicks, 2014.

Coming Woman begins with Victoria’s announcement of her candidacy for the presidency in 1870 and ends with the Beecher-Tilton scandal.  There are flashbacks of her earlier life and a fictionalized epilogue.  The writer first learned about Victoria in 1980 before Goldsmith published her book, so it relies less on “Other Powers” than other more recent novels, although Goldsmith’s influence is still felt.

Selected Writings of Victoria Woodhull: Suffrage, Free Love, and Eugenics (Non-Fiction)
Cari M Carpenter, 2010.

History students and professors will appreciate this volume because it contains reprints of several of Victoria Woodhull’s own works. Carpenter’s commentary, while better than Michael Perry’s, is nonetheless marred by inaccuracies. She couldn’t get past the second sentence of her Introduction without making a factual error. She wrote that Victoria “died not long after promising five thousand dollars to the first person to fly across the Atlantic.” Victoria offered the $5,000 prize in February of 1914. She died in June 1927. Carpenter called Victoria’s mother Rose instead of Anna, Annie, or Roxanna. She said Victoria’s husband Canning was “Dr. Channing Woodhull, a Civil War veteran” when he never served in the Civil War. She also inexplicably divined that when Victoria advocated for the rights of women to vote she “implicitly” meant white women only even though Victoria explicitly called for women of all colors to have the right to vote. In Woodhull’s once famous Woodhull Memorial she said, “Women of all races are white, black or some intermediate color. Color comprises all people, of all races and both sexes. The right to vote cannot be denied on account of color. All people included in the term color have the right to vote unless otherwise prohibited.”

The contents of the book are listed below by category:

*A Page of American history. A New Constitution of the United States of the World Proposed for the Consideration of the Constructors of Our Future Government (1872), presented 1870 in Lincoln Hall, Washington DC.
*The Memorial of Victoria C. Woodhull, Jan. 11, 1871, Congress, Washington DC.
*Constitutional Equality, an essay from Congressional Reports on Woman Suffrage, 1871, based on the speech, A Legal and Moral View of Constitutional Equality, Feb. 16, 1871, Lincoln Hall, Washington DC,
*The Great Secession Speech, May 11, 1871, Apollo Hall, NYC.
*A Speech on the Principles of Social Freedom, Nov. 20, 1871, Steinway Hall, NYC.
*A Speech on the Impending Revolution Feb. 1, 1872 in Boston and Feb. 20, 1872 Academy of Music NY, reprinted in Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly on Nov 1, 1873.
*Speech at the Ratification Meeting of the Equal Rights Party, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, June 22, 1872, p. 10-11.
*The Naked Truth; or the Situation Reviewed, Jan 9, 1873, Cooper Institute, NYC.
*Reformation or Revolution, Which? or, Behind the Political Scenes, Oct. 17, 1873, Cooper Institute, NYC.
*The Elixir of Life; or, Why Do We Die?, Sep. 18, 1873, Grow’s Opera House, Chicago.
*The Scare-Crows of Sexual Slavery, Aug. 18, 1873, Silver Lake Camp Meeting, Massachusetts.
*Tried As By Fire; or, the True and the False, Socially, published 1874, delivered 150 nights on a lecture tour.
*Stirpiculture; or, the Scientific Propagation of the Human Race, Feb. 1888, London.
*The Rapid Multiplication of the Unfit, 1891, published in London and NY.

*The Correspondence Between the Victoria League and Victoria C. Woodhull, c. July 1871.
*Victoria C. Woodhull’s complete and detailed version of the Beecher-Tilton affair (Contains transcript of the Nov. 2, 1872 Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly) published by J. Bradley Adams, obtained from Princeton University.
*Excerpt from The Garden of Eden; or Paradise Lost and Found, published in London by Culliford, no date (Supposed to have been given as a speech in 1876).

*The Woodhull Manifesto as published in the NY Herald Apr. 2, 1870.
*Killing No Murder, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, Jun. 11, 1870.
*Correspondence of the Equal Rights Party, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, June 15, 1872, p. 8-9.
*The Spirit World, Pittsburgh Leader, 1873, from Southern Illinois University.
*Woman Suffrage in the United States, The Humanitarian, July 1896, p. 1-8.

*My Dear Mrs. Bladen, June 22, 1871.
*My Dear Mrs. Mott, July 13, 1871.
*Dear Lucretia Mott, Feb. 27, 1873.

*I Am the Daughter of Time, possibly a fragment of Victoria’s unfinished autobiography, July 1895, Southern Illinois University

Victoria Woodhull Fearless Feminist (Non-Fiction)
Kate Havelin, 2007.

Part of a series of “Trailblazer Biographies” for grades 4-10. This biography, which is a little over 100 pages, draws from biographies by Barbara Goldsmith, Mary Gabriel, and Lois Beachy Underhill. There are several illustrations but some seem anachronistic like a picture of men in tuxedos at Delmonico’s restaurant in 1906.

Bells on Her Toes: The Embellished Memoirs of the Irrepressible Sisters Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin (Fiction)
Irving Stanton Elman, 2006.

Bells on Her Toes is a wise-cracking novel about the Claflin sisters. Here’s a typical exchange between Dr. Canning Woodhull and Dr. Reuben Buckman Claflin when Dr. Woodhull presents himself as a graduate of the Univeristy of Heidelberg. “Heidleberg University, that sounds familiar–that’s in Germany, ain’t it?” Dr. Woodhull replies, “No, I went to the other one in Heidelberg, Indiana.  And where did you obtain your doctorate, sir, if I may ask?””Oxford.” Dr. Woodhull was impressed. “Ah! You studied in England!” “Oxford, Pennsylvania.  The Oxford P-a, Academy of Veter’nary Medicine.”The novel doesn’t take itself seriously the way all the other 21st century novels do. If you like this novel, chances are you’ll also like writing style of M.M. Marberry’s biography “Vicky.”

 Free Lover: Sex, Marriage and Eugenics in the Early Writings of Victoria Woodhull (Non-Fiction)
Victoria C. Woodhull, introduction by Michael W. Perry, 2005.

The companion volume to Lady Eugenist. It contains the following speeches by Victoria Woodhull:

*The Principles of Social Freedom
*The Scare-crows of Sexual Slavery
*The Elixir of Life
*Tried as by Fire

With the publication of Cari M. Carpenter’s book on the Selected Writings of Victoria Woodhull, this book isn’t as valuable as it used to be as a resource for hard to find Victoria Woodhull speeches.  The same speeches are now available in Carpenter’s book which has better, though imperfect, commentary.  Perry opposes the views of the Free Lovers which have since become commonplace. His critique of current marriage values includes such gems as “At that point, today’s radical might ask why marriage should be limited to one or, stressing the ‘significant,’ if someone could marry a pet or the thing (perhaps a car) that matters most to them.”

Lady Eugenist: Feminist Eugenics in the Speeches and Writings of Victoria Woodhull (Non-Fiction)
Victoria C. Woodhull, introduction by Michael W. Perry, 2005. 

A paperback collection of writings on eugenics by Victoria Woodhull.  The writings can also be purchased individually as Adobe eBooks.

*Children — Their Rights and Privileges (The Training of Children — Good Advice to Mothers)
*The Garden of Eden; or, Paradise Lost and Found
*Humanitarian Government
*Stirpiculture; or, The Scientific Propagation of the Human Race
*The Scientific Propagation of the Human Race; or, Humanitarian Aspects of Finance and Marriage.
*The Science of Well Being
*The Rapid Multiplication of the Unfit

The introductory and editorial comments of Michael W. Perry aren’t what you’d expect for books about Victoria Woodhull.  Perry is no fan of Woodhull and tries to discredit Woodhull and liberals by labeling them as elitist racists for advocating eugenics.

The Garden of Eden; Or the Paradise Lost and Found (Non-Fiction)
Victoria Claflin Woodhull, 2005.

A modern day reprint by Dodo Press of one of the most reprinted Victoria Woodhull speeches. She interpreted the “Garden of Eden” as an allegory of the human body.

A Woman for President : The Story of Victoria Woodhull (Non-Fiction)
Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Jane Dyer, 2004.

A beautifully illustrated book for ages 9-12. The watercolors in this book are delightful. Unfortunately, the inside cover says that Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. The NYSE says the first woman was Muriel Siebert in 1967. (While Victoria and her sister were the first women stockbrokers, they didn’t own a seat on the Exchange.) The inside cover also says Victoria was the first woman to own a newspaper which isn’t true. The author copied Barbara Goldsmith’s dubious claim that Victoria worked as a child preacher at the age of 8. While there are numerous accounts of Victoria playing “preacher” on top of an Indian Mound in Homer, Ohio, Goldsmith was the first biographer to claim she worked as a preacher and the source Goldsmith cited doesn’t contain the quote, “I am the Word…Sinners Repent.” Of course, Krull isn’t the first person to fall for Goldsmith’s falsehoods. The author of this web site has been burned by Goldsmith as well. The factual errors mar this otherwise attractive picture book.

Victoria Woodhull’s Sexual Revolution: Political Theater and the Popular Press in Nineteenth-Century America (Non-Fiction)
Amanda Frisken, 2004.

This book is the most scholarly of the Woodhull biographies and was written by a Professor of American Studies at the State University of New York, Old Westbury.  The material is original and the author sought out primary sources whereever possible.  The book focuses on the public life of Victoria Woodhull from 1870-1877 when she was at the height of her fame.  The book may be scholarly but it’s not boring.  There are several illustrations from the tabloids of the 1870’s that illuminate the depiction of Victoria in the media. This book is not as widely read as “Other Powers” but deserves to be because Frisken is hands down a better historian than Goldsmith.  This book should be a companion volume to “Notorious Victoria.”

Victoria Woodhull: Free Spirit for Women’s Rights (Non-Fiction)
Miriam Brody, 2004.

Part of the Oxford Portraits series for grades 7 and up. This illustrated biography is supplemented by a Victoria Woodhull chronology, which unfortunately says she died on June 10, not June 9, 1927. It features extracts from Victoria’s speech, “Tried As By Fire” which sheds light on her relationship with her special needs son. Although it has no source notes to complement the bibliography, this is probably one of the better young adult biographies. It’s attractively formatted and has a smaller typeface than the McLean and Havelin young adult biographies. The author utilized biographies by Mary Gabriel, M. M. Marberry, Emanie Sachs, Theodore Tilton, and unfortunately Barbara Goldsmith.

Das Aufsehen erregende Leben der Victoria Woodhull (Non-Fiction)
Anjte Schrupp, 2002. 

German (Deutsche) language only. “The Sensational, Exciting Life of Victoria Woodhull.”  Available on only.  Not available on the American Amazon site. Author site on Victoria Woodhull.

Gob’s Grief (Fiction)
Chris Adrian, 2002.   

A story about Gob and Tomo Woodhull, fictional twin sons of Victoria Woodhull.

Victoria Woodhull : First Woman Presidential Candidate (Non-Fiction)
Jacqueline McLean, 2000.

Part of the Notable Americans series for ages 10 and up.  This barely over 100 page biography for young people is based upon the biographies by Mary Gabriel, Marion Meade, and Lois Beachy Underhill. Notably missing from McLean’s bibliography is Barbara Goldsmith, which is fortunate because Goldsmith wrote the most inaccurate Woodhull biography. There are 26 black & white illustrations some of better quality than others. The poor quality of some of the photos distracts from the merits of the text.

American Lady of the Manor, Bredon’s Norton; the Later Life of Victoria Woodhull Martin 1901-1927 (Non-Fiction)
Owen Stinchcombe, 2000. 

This hard to come by book was dedicated to Mary Gabriel, another Victoria Woodhull biographer. This biography covers Victoria’s life after the death of her third husband, John Biddulph Martin. It has pictures of Norton Park, the Manor House, and the Old Tithe Barn supplemented by a map of Bredon’s Norton. Although the book is a little over 100 pages it’s rich in information about Victoria’s later years. It’s highly recommended as a stepping stone to further research on Victoria’s largely neglected life in England.

Notorious Victoria (Non-Fiction)
Mary Gabriel, 1998.

Written by a journalist, Notorious Victoria provides a reporter’s balanced account of the life of Victoria Woodhull from birth until death. The book explains, rather than condemns, Victoria’s free love advocacy. This book portrays Victoria’s public life in a manner that’s more in keeping with Victoria’s vision of her own work. There are numerous quotes from the newspapers of the era, which is how most of the country got to know “The Woodhull.” The book is enriched by the input of Owen Stinchcombe, a British writer who researched Woodhull’s life in England. While the book isn’t flawless, it’s considered the best of the Victoria Woodhull biographies by Victoria Woodhull & Company. If you know nothing about Victoria Woodhull, Notorious Victoria is the first book to read. To order from Amazon, click on the cover above. Read an excerpt from Notorious Victoria

Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, & the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull (Allegedly Non-Fiction)
Barbara Goldsmith, 1998. 

The Jacket Description of Other Powers. Other Powers isn’t a traditional biography.  The author described it as a “social history.” It provides an intimate view of the times of Victoria Woodhull and covers the important role spiritualism played in empowering women. It took Goldsmith over a decade to write the book, and it has overtaken Emanie Sachs’ “The Terrible Siren” as the most influential Victoria Woodhull biography. Despite disagreeing with Goldsmith’s portrayal of Victoria Woodhull as a prostitute, this web site once praised the book for being extensively researched and for having a lengthy bibliography which goes beyond the usual sources. It turns out the biography is like a shiny sports car that looks beautiful from the outside but when you try to take it for a drive, it doesn’t start. You open the hood and find the engine is missing. Most of Goldsmith’s unprecedented claims about Victoria Woodhull were either poorly cited or had no source citations at all. Goldsmith also used at least two novels as historical sources. (“The Vixens” by James Brough and “Jubilee Jim” by Robert H. Fuller.) The reader needs to be warned that if you see a claim in Goldsmith’s biography that wasn’t made by any biographer before her and she doesn’t cite the source or the source is not correctly cited, the claim is likely false.

Goldsmith was the first author to claim that Buck Claflin sexually abused his children.  She provided four sources but none of the four sources supported her claim.  Her strongest evidence was a quote from the 1871 Theodore Tilton biography.  Goldsmith wrote, “Years later, Vickie would say Buck ‘made her a woman before her time.'” Except that’s not what Victoria said.  Tilton’s biography actually says “But the parents, as if not unwilling to be rid of a daughter whose sorrow is ripening her into a woman before her time, were delighted at the unexpected offer.”

Goldsmith also demonstrated she was no genealogist.  She portrayed Congressman John Snyder as a life-long bachelor when he actually had multiple marriage records.  She called Col. Blood’s first wife “Isabel” when her name was Mary.  She claimed Victoria’s four sisters were all single women forced into prostitution by their father when they lived on Wabash Avenue in Chicago.  In reality three of them were actually married, and there’s no primary evidence they were prostitutes.  She claimed Tennessee was married the first time to John Bartels in Memphis, Tennessee when Tennessee’s first marriage was to John James Bortle in Sycamore, Illinois. 

It would take a book to cover all the mistakes made in this “award-winning” work.  The book has been praised for its compelling writing style, but it isn’t recommended as an introduction to Victoria Woodhull except for advanced students of history who know how to evaluate sources.  High school students would be better off starting with the biographies by Mary Gabriel, Lois Beachy Underhill, or Myra MacPherson which contain fewer inaccuracies.

After Goldsmith died in 2016 her family donated her papers to the New York Public Library. The papers include early drafts of “Other Powers” which contained a more detailed account of “Madame Annie Wood” who was alleged to be a friend of Josie Mansfield. It’s apparent from these early drafts that either Goldsmith utilized uncited, fictionalized sources about Annie Wood that she didn’t realize were fiction, or she fabricated her story about Annie Wood. It’s ironic considering Goldsmith accused Victoria of forging documents. Victoria Woodhull & Company can’t recommend this book any longer except as an example of how to write a convincing, fake history and get away with it by including an impressive looking bibliography and source notes that look good until you actually attempt to use them.

Other Powers is available in both hard cover and paperback from Amazon Read an excerpt from Other Powers

The Woman Who Ran for President (Non-Fiction)
Lois Beachy Underhill, 1995.

The Woman Who Ran for President broke ground for new research on Victoria Woodhull. For decades, Emanie Sachs’s 1928 biography held sway over subsequent biographies. That changed with Underhill’s biography that opened the door for different interpretations of Victoria’s life. Underhill contacted the British family of Victoria’s last husband John Biddulph Martin for previously unpublished material. She also consulted psychotherapists for an analysis of Victoria’s psyche and presented an interesting theory that Victoria’s sister Utica was a dyslexic. While written by a former advertising executive and not a historian, the book is nonetheless recommended because of material that’s not available in other biographies. Available in both hard cover and paperback from Amazon.

The Vixens. A Biography of Victoria and Tennessee Claflin (Fiction)
James Brough, 1980.

Despite the word “Biography” in the title, this book is a novel. It has copious amounts of made-up dialog but has the audacity to proclaim, “They lived, behaved, believed, and in print or recorded word expressed themselves in the manner reported here.” In 1980, Kirkus Reviews described “The Vixens” as “appalling–not a biography but a kind of slangy screenplay, based on history but padded with reams of imaginary dialogue that ranges from vulgar to excruciating.” Barbara Goldsmith included this book in her bibliography. This book is likely her source for her uncited claim that “Miss Tennessee’s Magnetic Life Elixir” contained laudanum.  This novel contains the earliest known reference to laudanum as an ingredient in the elixir. It looks like Goldsmith credulously believed “The Vixens” was a non-fiction book.

Victoria la Scandaleuse (Fiction)
Nicole Blondeau & Jean-Paul Feuillebois, 1979. 

A French language novel.

Free Woman (Incorrectly categorized as Non-Fiction)
Marion Meade, 1976. Republished in 2014.

Free Woman was the first Victoria Woodhull biography for the young. In the 1970s the author achieved the impossible by writing a biography about Victoria Woodhull that was suitable for young people of the era. Surprisingly, Meade didn’t hold back on discussing Woodhull’s views on sexuality. She presented the topics of divorce, free love, and prostitution tactfully. Few parents in the 1970s would have objected to her handling of a difficult subject. But times have changed. People of today may be disappointed by this bowdlerized version of Victoria’s story. The biggest drawback to Meade’s “biography” is that it contains fictionalized quotes. It also contains some fictionalized scenes, like Victoria Woodhull’s visit to Rochester, NY where she called her mother-in-law “The old cat!” This book is an enjoyable biographical novel for junior high and high school students. Why the publishers have categorized it as a biography is a mystery. Since its publication in 1976 it has been republished in 2014. The image to the left is from the 2014 edition.

Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly: the Lives & Writings of Notorious Victoria Woodhull & her Sister Tennessee (Non Fiction)
Compiled by Arlene Kisner, 1972.

A very short book with extracts from Theodore Tilton’s 1871 Victoria Woodhull biography and extracts from Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly. [Out of Print]

Mrs. Satan (Non-Fiction)
Johanna Johnston, 1967.

Both “Mrs. Satan” by Johanna Johnston and “Vicky” by M.M. Marberry were mostly retellings of Emanie Sachs’ original biography. You’ll find a few interesting tidbits not in Sachs. It’s just a matter of which writer’s style you prefer. Marberry was the most humorous. Mrs. Satan was the most comprehensive as it covered Victoria’s childhood which Marberry ignored. One 1967 reviewer compared the two to caviar and meat and potatoes. Marberry was the caviar with its “witty, gusty style” and Mrs. Satan was the meat and potatoes. Mrs. Satan was illustrated with photographs provided to Johnston by Emanie Sachs.

Vicky (Non-Fiction)
M. M. Marberry, 1967.

The author “Red” Marberry was a former Chicago newspaper reporter so it’s surprising that he didn’t cover Victoria’s life in Chicago. His biography began with the opening of Victoria and Tennesee’s New York City brokerage in 1870 and followed Victoria to her death in England. Thanks to Marberry cheekily announcing on several pages that Victoria Woodhull got “0 votes” in every election she ran, people assume she literally got zero votes. (There are a handful of newspaper articles from 1872 that reported she received votes. How many are uncertain but there were over 2,000 “scattering votes” that could’ve been cast for her.) Marberry also strangely claimed that Victoria Woodhull’s daughter Zula Maud Woodhull died under the wrong name, that her real name was Zulu Maud Blood. “Vicky” is best suited for someone who prefers a light-hearted biography to a more serious one.

Whirlwind in Petticoats (Fiction)
Beril Becker, 1947

“Whirlwind in Petticoats” was also published under the title, “The Spitfires.” Proving that you can’t judge a book by its cover, the actual content of the 1947 novel has more of a feminist tone than the 1967 biography by M. M. Marberry. In 1947, the Kirkus Reviews described it as “A colorful biography of an equally colorful personality, for a woman’s audience.” In this fictionalized biographical novel Victoria meets her future husband Col. Blood when he covers her Spiritualist lectures as a reporter for the St. Louis Times, a newspaper that did not exist until at least two years after Victoria and Colonel Blood met. A decade later Irving Wallace in his book “The Square Pegs” claimed that Victoria Woodhull was “invited to appear before the local Spiritualist Society…” and Col. Blood was in the audience “covering the debate for the St. Louis Times.” It looks like Irving Wallace, like Barbara Goldsmith, used a novel for one of his sources.

The Terrible Siren (Non-Fiction)
Emanie Nahm Sachs [Arling], 1928. Republished in 1972.

This book for decades was considered the “definitive” Victoria Woodhull biography. Until Barbara Goldsmith’s biography was published, Sachs’ biography was the most influential Victoria Woodhull biography even though it was written a novelist and not an historian. While some of the book is accurate because Sachs was able to speak to a handful of people who actually knew Victoria Woodhull, it also contains inaccuracies because of Sachs’ inability to construct an accurate chronology and sort fact from fiction. She paid thousands of dollars to anarchist Benjamin Ricketson Tucker for the story of his months long affair with Victoria Woodhull in New York City. During part of the time of their alleged affair he was in New York City and Victoria Woodhull was in San Francisco. Despite its lack of source notes, the book is more valuable as a source than Victoria Woodhull.

Beecher, Tilton, Woodhull, The Creation of Society (Libelous Pamphlet)
Dr. Joseph Treat, 1874.

This pamphlet was so disreputable that in 1874 some of Victoria Woodhull’s opponents didn’t believe the pamphlet was true. The author was arrested for criminal libel for claiming that Victoria Woodhull and her female family members were prostitutes. Even Barbara Goldsmith wrote, “Treat’s pamphlet, though never substantiated, has, I believe, framed the common perception that Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee C. Claflin were nothing more than self-aggrandizing prostitutes—clearly a misconception.” This didn’t stop Goldsmith from using Treat as one of her sources. She utilized a quote from Dr. Treat’s pamphlet: “Tennie has had ten men visit her in one night…” Goldsmith attributed the quote to a jealous Utica Claflin Brooker even though Treat attributed it to a different sister of Victoria Woodhull, “Mrs. Sparr.” Treat was a Woodhull groupie who creepily wrote, “I will not say how, so utterly and many years myself worshiping the principle of Social Freedom, I idealized you as the embodiment of that principle, till, since it was my very self, you stood to me as one sacred and holy, and the very room in which I sat and wrote was transfigured every time you entered it, and the very sound of your voice heard through open doors thrilled every fiber of my being, though we were nothing to each other, and both knew never could be. I was ready to die for Social Freedom, and why should I not give myself to you?” In his pamphlet he claimed Victoria charged $250.00 per night. If Victoria Woodhull truly were a prostitute, Treat had sour grapes because he couldn’t afford her price. A more likely interpretation is Victoria spurned Treat and Treat retaliated by making false allegations designed to ruin what was left of her reputation.

Victoria C. Woodhull. A Biographical Sketch. (Non-Fiction)
Theodore Tilton, 1871.

Tilton’s biography was the first biography written about Victoria Woodhull. Tilton’s biography was produced from notes collected by Victoria Woodhull’s husband Col. Blood.