Of the countless women who’ve gone before you, Elizabeth Packard stands out as one who fought for the oppressed and the voiceless, for her relentless faith, and for freedom.
I interviewed award-winning author and champion of women, Kate Moore, to learn more about The Woman They Could Not Silence. I was on the edge of my seat, and you will be too.
Hi. This is Natalie Hoffman of Flyingfreenow.com, and you’re listening to the Flying Free Podcast, a support resource for women of faith looking for hope and healing from hidden emotional and spiritual abuse.
NATALIE: Welcome to Episode 161 of the Flying Free Podcast! A couple of months ago, I listened to a fascinating book on Audible. It was beautifully read by the author. And when I was finished, I knew I had to see if she would be a guest on this podcast. And you know what? I sent her an email, and I was so delighted because she responded immediately and said “Yes.” And here she is! So thank you so much, Kate Moore, for your willingness to introduce yourself and the subject of your book, who was a female warrior of the nineteenth century, Elizabeth Packard.
KATE: It’s such a pleasure to be here, Natalie. Thank you so much for inviting me on. I’m such an advocate for Elizabeth, everything she achieved and everything she went through. I’m really excited for our conversation and to introduce your listeners to this incredible woman.
NATALIE: Yes. I was telling Kate before we got on that I have already recommended this book to some of my close friends, and those who have chosen to read it are absolutely entranced with this book. They see so many parallels between what Elizabeth went through and what women back then went through with being… well, we’ll get into that in a minute, and what modern day Christian women are going through today. So hopefully you guys will see some of that in this episode.
I want to tell you a little bit about Kate. She is the New York Times best selling author of “The Radium Girls,” which won the 2017 Good Reads Choice Award for Best History. This book was also voted U.S. Librarian’s Favorite Non-Fiction Book of 2017, and “The Radium Girls” was named a Notable Non-Fiction Book of 2018 by the American Library Association.
Now her latest book, which is what we’re going to be having a discussion about here, is called “The Woman They Could Not Silence” the true story of a nineteenth century housewife who was committed to an insane asylum for being crazy? No. Unless being crazy means daring to hold different opinions than her husband. And indeed, this is exactly why women were placed in asylums just one hundred and fifty years ago. So Kate is a British writer. You probably noticed her accent. She’s based in London, and this is not her first rodeo. She writes across a variety of genes and has had multiple titles on the Sunday Times Bestseller list. So we will talk about how you can follow and connect with Kate online toward the end of this episode, but for now, let’s dig into our subject.
So I’m curious, first of all, to know why you selected the subjects you did for your last two books, “The Radium Girls” (and maybe tell just a little about that book, too, in case people want to know) and also “The Woman They Could Not Silence” about Elizabeth Packard. What were you hoping to accomplish in telling these stories?
KATE: Well, the way I came to these stories was actually quite different with both books. So, “The Radium Girls” was a really serendipitous discovery. I wasn’t a history writer at the time I discovered their story. I was a freelance writer and I was ghostwriting memoirs and things like that, but I had never written a history book, and I did English at college, so history was not something that I connected with much. But I found “The Radium Girls” story through directing a play about them, and I knew it was based on a true story and I wanted my theater production to be authentic. So I read everything I could find about these women, and for those who don’t know, the radium girls were American women who were employed to paint watches and clocks with glow-in-the-dark radium paint. This is around the time of the First World War and the Roaring Twenties.
Now, as we know today, radium paint is highly radioactive, yet the women were told to put the paint brushes between their lips to make a fine point for the delicate handiwork they had to do. They were assured that radium was safe, and in fact, at that time, people thought it was and it was put into all sorts of things, you know, cosmetics and pills to treat hay fever and so on. The women were told it was safe, and they embark on a landmark fight for justice once it becomes apparent that actually, their employers have condemned them to death. So it’s a story of women fighting for their rights, standing up for themselves, and standing up for the sisterhood. A story of women showing strength and sacrifice and courage and dignity. And as I read everything I could find about the women, I realized there was no book, actually, that celebrated them as people. There were books about the astonishing legal legacy they had left, there were books about the incredible science, but no book about these women who I fell in love with through directing this play. I’m so emotionally connected to their story.
So I decided, “No one else has written the book. Why don’t I, even though I’m British, even though I’m not a historian?” And so that’s how that book came to be. It was a total passion project. It was me feeling like these really special women who defied all the odds to fight for justice and who experienced such awful tragedy and suffering and yet who rose above it altruistically to make the world a better place… I wanted to celebrate these women, and so that’s why I wrote that book.
KATE: Yeah. It’s an incredible story. I’m an advocate for Elizabeth Packard, and I’m also an advocate for the radium girls because I want everyone to know that story. With Elizabeth, it was a completely almost sort of opposite way of coming to it. You’ve spoken really movingly in your introduction about the parallels that you experienced reading “The Woman They Could Not Silence” with your own life, with the lives of the women that you’ve connected with. And that’s almost how I came to the story. I came to it sort of generically to begin with. I was inspired by the #MeToo movement in the fall of 2017, but what really struck me about that time wasn’t that women were speaking up and speaking out, because actually, we always had. We always have made allegations of rape and sexual harassment. We’ve called it out when we’ve experienced it.
The difference with #MeToo was that finally women were being listened to and believed. And that got me thinking, “Why has it taken so long, and how have women been silenced in the past?” And that made me think, “Well actually, for centuries, whenever women have used our voices, they think we’re crazy. That’s been the easy label to stick on us. Our mental health has been wielded as a weapon against us.” That’s what I wanted to write about. So actually, my starting point was the modern day, and it was thinking about, “I want to explore these issues about how these labels stick, what’s the so-called science behind it, and why does it keep happening again and again?”
I went looking for one woman who could encapsulate those issues, a woman to whom this had happened, a sane woman who was simply assertive, who simply used her voice, and through doing so, as you mentioned, was locked up in an insane asylum. And so I literally went hunting for a woman who could do that, and I first read Elizabeth’s name in a University of Wisconsin essay that I found online through this search. And the moment I then Googled her name and started reading about her, her dramatic story, her incredible sort of phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes-come-back, how she becomes this incredible woman who not only finds her voice but is able to use it and to make things happen through it… It is a story with a happy ending despite all the horrendousness that she experiences.
And perhaps most of all, and I think this is perhaps why you and your friends are so moved by it, Elizabeth was a writer. She didn’t only use her voice to change the world and society through her campaign and her advocacy. She wrote down what she was feeling, experiencing, and thinking. And because of that, I’ve been able to quote directly from Elizabeth herself in “The Woman They Could Not Silence.” So I hope if we just read it, it is to experience a sort of intimate conversation almost with Elizabeth herself. You hear from the woman herself what she is going through.
NATALIE: Yes, and you do. It is. I really felt like, I mean, I’m blown away. I had no idea that you started from that place and then you went looking for her. And the fact that you found her, I mean, you found the perfect person to write about.
KATE: Yeah, she is. I’ve got tingles on the back of my neck just thinking about needles in haystacks.
NATALIE: Same. I was getting teared up. To me, I just feel like that’s a Creator of the universe kind of thing. He put Elizabeth in that place and time, gave her the personality that He gave her, and the motivation to write. I’m a writer too. I can so relate to this desperate need to write everything down. Like, “No one’s going to listen, but at least I can pour it out on paper and the universe can listen, maybe.” And God did listen, and the fact that He just saved all of that until you came along and found it, it’s like you uncovered this beautiful gem, and it’s like the time is right for this story to be told. It really is.
Elizabeth’s story is going to inspire so many women. I love that this writing aspect is woven throughout, because we try to help women to actually process through writing. Writing is like an incredible processing tool. It helps you to see reality. If you can write it down and you look at it in black and white, it’s like “Whoa!” If it’s just kind of jumbled up in our brain, our brains can make sense of it in different ways, but yeah.
KATE: Completely. And that was absolutely what Elizabeth was going through as well. As I sort of describe, previous to her finding her voice she was married for twenty-one years to her husband, and in that marriage it was an unhappy marriage, a cheerless marriage, as she describes it. He was a preacher, actually. He had all the words, basically, and I talk about her thoughts evaporating like the steam above the saucepan on her stove. And it’s only when she commits herself to paper that she actually sees herself take shape on the page.
She later keeps a journal in the asylum which later becomes a book, and she talks about “My book is me.” She actually sees that direct parallel that what she is writing is herself. So if anyone tries to silence that voice, that’s silencing her. If anyone destroys that journal, that’s her that they’re destroying. The writing is a huge part of her journey and her story as she not only finds the voice but learns how to use it.
NATALIE: Yes. Give us a synopsis of her story. And by the way, even if you listen to this podcast and you just hear the story, it’s an incredible story, but the friends I’ve told to go get this book, I’ve told them, “You have to get it on Audible and listen to Kate read the story.” Because even as I’m listening to you now, Kate, I’ve just heard the whole story, I feel like your voice is Elizabeth’s voice. I feel like you are channeling her voice and all of her energy and all of her personality through your voice. So definitely get the Audible version. I also did get the Kindle version because there are so many quotable things in this book and I just wanted to have the written version as well. Even as I was reading through the written version, it was like “No. I have to listen to Kate’s voice read this.” It’s like watching a movie. It’s so, so wonderful. So tell us about Elizabeth’s life.
KATE: Okay. The book opens in June 1860 on the cusp of the American Civil War. And it starts with Elizabeth, who at that time in her life is a forty-three year old housewife and mother of six. Her youngest child is just eighteen months old. Her eldest is eighteen years. And it starts with Elizabeth lying in bed in her marital home in Illinois. It starts with a simple question: “What would happen if your husband could commit you to an insane asylum just because you disagreed with him?” And that is what happens to Elizabeth and what I want to uncover.
So I mentioned earlier she’s been married for twenty-one years, it’s a cheerless marriage to a preacher, and over time they have diverged. Elizabeth is inspired by the National Women’s Rights Movement, and the first women’s rights convention was held in 1848, and that unleashed a national conversation about the rights of women. Should women have a voice? Should women be citizens? Because actually, according to the law at that time as it stood, women were actually civilly dead, and this is something that Elizabeth, to her horror, soon discovers. Because she isn’t mad. She is a forward-thinking, to some degree, woman. She was a woman ahead of her time. She writes, ultimately, about wanting a female president and these kinds of things. Quite revolutionary ideas for the time.
But really, the crux of the problem between her and her husband is that she thinks, as she put it, “I, though a woman, have just as good a right to my opinion as my husband has to his,” and that’s really the crux of the issue. She thinks that she should have a voice in the marriage, that her spiritual experience is her own spiritual experience, and her husband can’t dictate to her what God is telling her to do. Her relationship with God is her own.
And that obviously leads to fireworks, particularly because her husband is a preacher, you know. He’s supposed to lead his community and his family, and once his wife starts rebelling and saying, “I no longer believe as you do,” the religious views diverge, he needs to put a stop to it, because his standing in the community is shot to pieces because he has this rebellious wife who is standing up to him. It’s worth saying there are lots of other political things going on as well. It’s worth saying that Theophilus is, I think, a very weak man, and unlike Elizabeth, whose faith propels her and is strong for her all the way through and really gets her through it, Theophilus is changeable at times depending on what he needs to say to the right people, which I think is an important point to make and showcases Elizabeth’s true strength of character.
NATALIE: Let me just interject one thing.
KATE: Interrupt me, because I could just talk and talk about her.
NATALIE: Well, I want to bring out the point, too, that even when I was reading about some of their interactions and throughout the book, obviously, it became even more and more obvious that he was an abusive individual. He was spiritually abusive, he was emotionally abusive, and actually physically abusive when you think that he subjected her to all kinds of physical abuse in the insane asylum. Very controlling person.
KATE: Absolutely, and I think a quotation of Elizabeth’s… You know, you talked about how powerful the quotations are, and something that really struck me when I was researching, she talks about how when women come before the “man courts” like she described them (and obviously, often that’s still the same situation today), she says they don’t understand the bruises on a woman may not be visible. They may be spiritual, but they sometimes hurt just as much if not more.
And she has this sort of foresight, you know. You think about laws passed, I believe in America, and certainly in the UK now, about coercive control, about a man who tries to dictate what a woman wears, who she sees, which is exactly what Theophilus did to Elizabeth. There are laws against that, you know, a man who controls the finances, for example. That was something else: he withheld money from her. He was controlling in every single way, and ultimately she gained the strength of character to say, “No, this is enough. I am my own person, and I’m going to speak out against it.”
NATALIE: And can I make one more point, too? Because I want people to understand that this was a woman who was an amazing homemaker. She took care of her husband, she took care of her children. She was the perfect, quintessential queen of her home.
KATE: Completely. And I think it’s really interesting that she emphasizes that point in her writings as well. She made the clothes for the children. She would bake, she would garden. She had this whole garden full of fruits and vegetables that she would then make all the pies from. She would nurse her children. She did absolutely everything. And she’s stressed how good a wife and mother she was, and it’s telling, I think, because Elizabeth was a really exceptional person, and when she was given only a domestic sphere to conquer, she did it exceptionally well.
She herself says, “I’m not a person to half-do anything.” She goes at everything full-throttle. And that’s the situation. And how the story develops is that to Elizabeth’s horror, she realizes that actually the laws of the United States at that time actually side with the husband. So they say that actually a woman doesn’t have the right to her own voice. She doesn’t have the right to property, to the custody of her own children, to her own earnings, even to her liberty.
And so Theophilus is able to apply to the local state asylum in Illinois and get his wife admitted even though she is sane. But he’s allowed to do that because the law said that a husband can send his wife to an asylum by request, and specifically, and this is a quote from the law itself, “Without the evidence of insanity required in other cases.” In the laws of that time, a woman was a husband’s property and he could do with her as he wished, and that’s exactly what Theophilus does with his brilliant wife because she dares to defy him.
NATALIE: Yeah. I love how you call her brilliant. She was brilliant, and I feel like so many women that I work with are brilliant women. They are women who bend over backwards to create these beautiful homes for their families and their husbands and that’s expected, and yet they’re not allowed to have their own money, they’re not allowed to have their own jobs. I’m thinking of the very conservative Christian circles that I ran in. We were not encouraged to have jobs. Because if you did that, you would be neglecting your family or your home and you couldn’t do both and all of that. They weren’t even given a choice, really. If you were a good Christian, this is what you would do and you’d follow these things. So they did enter into it wholeheartedly just like Elizabeth.
I felt like I could relate so much to her, that “Okay, if this is what I’m given on a silver platter to do, I’m going to do all of it and I’m going to do it amazingly. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.” But so many times, these women kind of outshine the men in their lives. And then if you’ve got a man who is abusive or needs to have that sense of control or who has got those insecurities or that weakness… Fortunately we don’t get thrown into insane asylums, but we do get labeled with borderline personality disorder (that’s a huge one that women in my groups get labeled), or bipolar, or just overly emotional, or “spiritually deceived,” or rebellious. I love how you used “rebellious” a lot. I was thinking we should put that in quotes because she wasn’t rebellious at all. She was very accommodating.
I want you to talk about (I thought it was fascinating) her relationship with the doctor in the insane asylum and how that developed. That was a twisted sort of a situation. Can you talk about that?
KATE: Yeah, it’s a very complicated situation, really. And I empathized a lot with Elizabeth. So she is admitted to the asylum. The law at the time enabled her husband to do that. And she meets Dr. Andrew McFarland, who is superintendent of the Illinois State Hospital. In contrast to her husband, who was fifteen years older than her, McFarland is just six months younger. He is a very distinguished gentleman. He’s a man who writes poetry that’s sort of lauded for its literary genius by the local paper. He quotes Shakespeare in his psychiatry essays. He’s very cultured, he’s very well-educated, he’s very smooth, very charming. By his own admission, sort of part of his “therapy” for want of a better word is to become the womens’ friend. But there’s something dark in that therapy, because he’s not the womens’ friend. What he wants is to gain their trust so that they trust them, and then he becomes the puppet master, basically.
He sees himself as the doctor as a cipher for the absent family members. He’s supposed to train Elizabeth and her equally sane fellow patients into learned domestic control. So they’re supposed to learn to submit to the masculine authority of doctor, of husband, of brother, of father, and then they will be sent home cured.
But Elizabeth doesn’t realize this at first. At first she’s swept away by McFarland. He’s very different from her weak and… I read her husband’s diary as part of my research, and he was just so dull and boring and gloomy and lazy. I don’t know how she put up with him for twenty-one years, but the contrast with McFarland would have been extraordinary. And as I said, he’s using sort of every tool and trick in the book to try to win her trust and affection, including the laying on of hands that she mentions, which, you know, seeing it in a different light, you go “Ooooh,” you know, that’s not a good thing.
So anyway, the relationship starts very positively and she’s swept off her feet. She almost falls in love with him, really. Then she realizes what he’s trying to do and actually, even though he knows from their conversations that she’s sane and that she is not in the wrong, her husband is the one in the wrong to try to send his wife away, separate her from her babies and her children, she sort of challenges him on it and challenges him not only in her own case, but in the cases of all her friends.
And this is, again, the remarkable thing about Elizabeth: she doesn’t just fight for herself. She sees her fellow patients as sisters. She wants to fight for all women and for all the patients. And so, audaciously, she challenges the doctor on the entire way that he’s running the asylum, including her own case. And the facade drops. The real man is revealed and he sends her to a much worse ward, at which point Elizabeth’s suffering really heightens and she’s really got to try to hold on to herself, her mission, who she is, and the facts of the case, because he tries everything in his power to try to crush her. And the relationship unfolds from there, but it’s a very complex, very interesting relationship.
NATALIE: Yes, it is. Towards the beginning… I knew he was bad from the beginning. You did a really good job, though, of showing it from her perspective, showing him from her perspective. What it did is it created that cognitive dissonance even in my own mind, because there was part of me going, “There’s something not right about this person.” And I also caught on to the fact that she was actually, I think she was responding in a fawning way. You know when you’re being held captive or you’ve been kidnapped or whatever, you know when you fawn with your captor to try to…?
NATALIE: Especially if your captor is behaving that way, behaving kindly, and you’re so grateful that someone is being nice when you’re in the pits, in so much emotional suffering. You so beautifully detailed all of that. I remember reading it and just going, “I don’t know how she’s doing this.” I mean, I think you had a lot of help from her journals, but you also had to pull from her journals and tell the story in a way where you could give people that sense of almost going through it with Elizabeth, almost entering into that experience with her. It was incredible.
KATE: Thank you for saying that, because that’s my ambition with the whole book is that you walk in step with Elizabeth. It is a history book and it’s all factual, everything is sourced, but it reads like a novel, and I want readers to walk in step with her and go on that journey with her. So thank you so much for saying that, that means a lot to me.
NATALIE: I think this should be made into a movie. I really do. Have you ever thought about that?
KATE: There has been interest from Hollywood. I’m not sure of the current time, whether it might be a movie or a mini-series, because there’s a lot of twists and turns and that sort of thing, but I’m hopeful that maybe it will come to pass. Because Elizabeth really deserves more people to know her name and know her story.
NATALIE: She does.
KATE: Because it’s an astonishing story, and what she achieved was astonishing, so I really hope that people are going to know her name whether it’s through the book or through an adaptation further down the line.
NATALIE: Yeah. So what happens next, then? So she’s in the really bad part of the insane asylum, and now she’s really fighting not just for her life but for the lives of all of these other women.
KATE: That’s right. And at this point, this is really where her faith comes into her own. She’s sent to this lower ward, eighth ward, which is full of, as they called them at the time, “maniacs.” And there’s degradation, there’s filth, there’s none of the pleasures and privileges that she as a middle-class married woman experienced when she first goes to the asylum. This is absolute rock bottom. But it’s her faith that gets her through. The first night she’s there, it’s dark, she’s desolate, she’s absolutely bleak, she’s lost all hope, she realizes what the doctor’s been doing, she’s just as much in his power as she was in her husband’s power, if not more so. But God gets her through.
She has a saying, “Duties are ours, events God’s.” So she thinks, “God will deal with the bigger picture, I just have to deal with the here and now. I don’t know what God’s plan is for me. I’m just going to do what I can to live by my faith in this situation. I’m going to try and practice what I preach, practice what I believe, and I will leave God to sort out… I can’t see why He’s sent me here, why He’s taken me away from my children, why He’s doing all of this, but I trust that God will see me right, essentially.”
And ultimately, as is proven, God did have another plan in mind for her, and she had to go through this crucible of suffering before she could come out the other side. So she is extraordinary in that she focuses on the people around her. She thinks, “I can’t change the big picture. I can’t change, at this time, society. I can’t change that this doctor has power over me and sent me to this ward. I can’t change that my husband has power to send me to the asylum. But what I can do is look around me at my fellow patients. I can see that they’re filthy because they haven’t been washed by the assistants. I can see that they’re scared. I can see that they need sympathy.”
So she gets to work. She gets a bucket. She fills it with hot water, she gets some soap suds from the asylum attendants, and she washes her fellow patients. She cleans the walls, she scrubs the ward. She makes a difference just in these small ways, and then through that she slowly has an impact on the whole asylum, both in encouraging the attendants to be kinder but also inspiring the other patients that they can be true to themselves. They don’t need to submit, and they start to rebel as well. There’s some fantastic scenes in there where the patients start to have uprisings against this oppressive power, and Elizabeth is the one inspiring them and sort of being that guiding star to influence and inspire them, basically.
NATALIE: Yeah. I saw her as bringing Christ into that insane asylum, bringing the light of God into that insane asylum.
KATE: That’s how she saw it too. Even before she goes to the asylum, she feels this sense of God-given mission that she feels she’s been sent to sort of inspire women to escape the bondage of man. And then once she’s in the asylum, then she sees that yes, God is guiding her every step. And her continual faith in Him is what gets her through.
NATALIE: Yes. But her influence did not just stop there.
KATE: It did not.
NATALIE: Because she had bigger things still to come.
KATE: She did indeed, and without spoiling the story, she does ultimately manage to get out of the asylum. And ultimately, she determines that she is going to use this voice that she has found in the asylum through the journals, through standing up for others, through standing up to the doctor… You know, there’s a wonderful quote that she says: “The worst that my enemies can do they have done, and I fear them no more. I am now free to be true and honest. No opposition can overcome me.” And once she’s at that point, nothing can stop this woman. Once she manages to get out of the asylum, she determines that she’s going to change the world for the better. She’s told that she cannot have custody of her children, and she decides that she’s going to change the world so that not just she benefits, but lots of other women benefit as well.
And there’s landmark legal trials about her sanity and there’s political campaigning and you know, really inspirational stuff. And I did include in the later part of the book, there’s another trial which I really wanted to include because I think it showcases what happens when a woman sticks her head above the parapet. You know, it slurs the whole of Elizabeth, not just the slur of being crazy but the slur of being a “bad woman,” a “harlot,” etc. For me, it was really important to include that as part of her story, because it showcases that even once you’ve risen above the initial challenge and you’re out there telling your truth and sharing your story, people will still try to do you down. You just have to keep going, basically, which is exactly what Elizabeth Packard did.
NATALIE: You know what I think is incredible is that, I feel like she, all along, carried with her this supernatural vision for how she was going to change the world. She really did believe that God was going to use her to change the world. And the interesting and fascinating thing is that He didn’t just use her back in her day. He is using her one-hundred and fifty years later, and we don’t even know how her story today is going to impact the future at all. I want to bring that out because there are so many women, I think, who are in their four walls of their homes and don’t know how their life has any impact on the world, if it’s just a wasted life, if they’re just meant to be born and to live out this life of being a victim and then die, or if their life matters.
I feel like Elizabeth’s story shows that every single life matters and we don’t know. She doesn’t know anything about us. She doesn’t know about anything that happened after she did her hard work. And she lost so much. She lost so many years with her kids. Those of us who think “Oh, my kids. What about my kids?” What about her kids? God took care of her kids, and she ended up changing her world in ways that she didn’t even probably… she wanted to see but maybe didn’t even realize, and now her story continues to change the world. So I just think that gives me so much hope even for the future of our world when we’re gone, what we’re doing, and what you did in finding her story and writing it. I just think that’s a God thing, I really do. Do you have any favorite quotes of hers, anything that she said that’s your favorite?
KATE: There’s always too many to be a favorite, but that one about, “The worst my enemies can do” is one of my favorites. I also love what she said, “Women are made to fly and soar, not to creep and crawl as the haters of our sex want us to.” And another one that I love is, “I will not hide my light under a bushel. I will set it upon a candlestick that it may give light to others.”
NATALIE: Yes, I love those. Do you see, everyone? I hope you see this book is amazing. So get it. And I recommend the Audible version. Okay, so how has just writing her story impacted your life? I kind of want to know what it’s meant to you to write her story.
KATE: It’s just such a privilege to be able to write her story and to share her story with the world. So I just feel very humbled that I was the one lucky enough to get to do it, to get to pour over the archives, to get to intimately walk with her on her journey, the whole of her journey. Obviously I have to cherry-pick quotations for the book, but as part of the research I immersed myself in her world and it’s fascinating to read everything, to read stuff that she didn’t have access to. And that’s the thing when you want to go on a historical journey and you’re a historical author. You get to see everything. You get to see stuff that she didn’t see and didn’t know, and actually that made some things fall into place. And had she known that she would have been like, “Well of course that’s why it happened,” but she didn’t have that knowledge at the time.
So yeah, in terms of changing my life and impacting my life, she is inspirational. I feel very proud that I’ve written this book that I hope elevates her story and gets into people’s hands and people’s ears so that they can learn who she was and what happened to her, because she didn’t deserve to be air-brushed out of history, and it was a very deliberate air-brushing. If she was remembered at all in the twentieth century, for example, she was only remembered as this mad woman, and she wasn’t mad at all.
This is the shocking and horrifying thing about the way that history gets to be re-written, and I touch on that a little bit in the epilogue, describing how it happens. I relate in the book the reality, and then you get to see how different newspaper articles or people who were allies of the doctor, for example, give their version of events, and that version of events is what sticks around until one-hundred and fifty years later when some British woman starts digging and reveals the true Elizabeth. So yeah. So I just feel really glad that I got to do it and you know, as I said, very privileged that I got to.
NATALIE: I’m really grateful to you for finding her and for sharing her story so beautifully. You were the right person to share her story.
KATE: Thank you.
NATALIE: I’m so grateful to you for doing that, and I’m really thankful that you came on the podcast. It’s been amazing to meet you, and I’m so excited for so many more people… I want Elizabeth, I want her story to be heard. So I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to have you here and share Elizabeth’s story with the women who listen to this podcast. Thank you so much, Kate.
KATE: Thank you so much, Natalie. The gratitude is all mine. So thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about her.
NATALIE: And for my listeners, thank you so much for listening to this episode. Until next time, fly free.