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Lizzie Borden's Mama Was No Writer

"One bates an author that's all author."
—Lord Byron

The line between the Old America and the New is closer than most of us think. A single generation separates not only the Western pioneer from the St. Louis suburbanite, it separates the New Woman from the Old. Rose Wilder Lane, child of westering parents, was born in a claim shanty in Dakota Territory and died two years after the U.S. Department of Defense sent her to Saigon to propagandize on behalf of the Great Society's War for Democracy in Southeast Asia. As the emancipated—or liberated, as we say today—cosmopolite daughter of an Ozark matron and farmwife, she was also an early divorcee concerned with the difficulties of a professional woman seeking to reconcile the duties of matrimony with the demands of a career, as well as a confirmed neurotic who had a lifelong love-hate relationship with her mother, was incapable of a sustained relationship with a member of the opposite sex, and finally repudiated nearly every close friend of either sex she ever made.

This unsympathetic and essentially uninteresting figure somehow provides William Holtz with a sympathetic subject, perhaps because he discovered that she offered him a theory to push. Mrs. Lane, a hack journalist, slick Bction writer, and third-rate novelist until her attentions were claimed by narrowly political enthusiasms, happened...

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