biographies that are anything but boring

I randomly snagged a couple of picture book biographies recently, and was  totally floored by how amazing the lives of these women were. I’d never heard of Mary Kingsley or Patience Wright, but if you’re looking for some new female role models, here they are.


Here’s the need to know about Patience Wright
– She called the King and Queen of England by their first names (and Michelle just hugged the Queen)
– She was pacifist spy during the American Revolution
– Almost got arrested for having Benjamin Franklin’s head (a statue)
– She made sculptures BETWEEN HER LEGS
– She was a lapsed vegetarian
– First female international artist/entrepreneur
– She sculpted with whale blubber (okay that’s gross)

Patience Wright: America’s First Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy by Pegi Shea

Totally different story, no less cool.


Until her parents death, Mary Kingsley lived in the service of her family. Cooking, cleaning, nursing, plumbing. She basically spent the first thirty years of her life stuck playing Cinderella in her gloomy house.
One perk was a large collection of books to keep her company. Her father was a traveler and writer, and although rarely present, stocked a great library.

After all those solitary years years went by, Mary had a great longing for adventure. So in 1893, still in Victorian garb she left home with the destination of West Africa. There she met murky swamps, enormous beetles, treacherous waters, and unfriendly crocodiles. And guess what? She loved it!

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