First full-length biography of a key figure in nineteenth-century American culture
Tempest-Tossed is the first full biography of the passionate, fascinating youngest daughter of the “Fabulous Beecher” family—one of America’s most high-powered families of the nineteenth century. Older sister Harriet Beecher Stowe was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Brother Henry Ward Beecher was one of America’s most influential ministers, and sister Catherine Beecher wrote pivotal works on women’s rights and educational reform. And then there was Isabella Beecher Hooker—“a curiously modern nineteenth-century figure.” She was a leader in the suffrage movement, and a mover and shaker in Hartford’s storied Nook Farm neighborhood and salon. But there is more to the story—to Isabella’s character—than that.
Isabella was an ardent Spiritualist. In daily life, she could be off-putting, perplexing, tenacious, charming. Many found her daunting to get to know and stay on comfortable terms with. Her “wild streak” was especially unfavorable in the eyes of Hartford society at the time, which valued restraint and duty. In her latest book, Susan Campbell brings her own unique blend of empathy and unbridled humor to the story of Harriet’s younger half-sister. Tempest Tossed reveals Isabella’s evolution from orthodox Calvinist daughter, wife, and mother, to one of the most influential players in the movement for women’s suffrage, where this unforgettable woman finally gets her proper due.
SUSAN CAMPBELL is the author of Dating Jesus: Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl and coauthor of Connecticut Curiosities. She has appeared on CBS “Sunday Morning” show, the BBC, and WNPR. Her column about the March 1998 shootings at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters in Newington was part of the Hartford Courant’s Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage of the tragedy. She lives in East Haven, Connecticut.
“For Isabella Beecher Hooker it was both a blessing and a curse to be born the youngest daughter of one of the most famous families in America. Just when she finally discovered her own calling in the women’s rights movement—working alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Victoria Woodhull—she found herself embroiled in the biggest sex scandal of the 19th century, the trial of her own brother for adultery. Susan Campbell has brought Isabella’s fascinating, forgotten story back to life with the deep research of a born historian and the vibrant, readable prose-style of a veteran journalist.”
—Debby Applegate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
“With a journalist’s concision and eye for the vivid quote, Susan Campbell captures Isabella Beecher Hooker’s quirky temperament and her passion for women’s rights. This wry and personal narrative is deeply informed, balanced, and a delight to read. “
—Joan Hedrick, author of Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life, winner of the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
“Susan Campbell’s Tempest Tossed is an enthralling portrait of an American lady: a cross between a character out of Edith Wharton, Emily Bronte, and Sigmund Freud. A work as concerned with the spiritual as it is with the material, readers will find themselves swept up in the details of a particular moment in New England history as it reveals the universal themes of human ambition, frustration, despair, and enlightenment. The writing is gloriously readable and the story is cinematic in its scope and in the crisp development of its remarkable characters. This book might break your heart in some places, but it engages and inspires on every page.”
—Gina Barreca, author of Babes in Boyland: A Personal History of Coeducation in the Ivy League
The Driftless Connecticut Series is funded by
the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund
at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
236 pp., 30 illus., 6 x 9”
Biography / American History