Betsy Prioleau’s biography of Gilded Age female tycoon Miriam Leslie is “an appropriately twisty tale of someone trying to outrun her origins. . . . Her story sparkles, as intoxicating as a champagne fountain that somebody else is paying for” (New York Times Book Review).
Among the fabled tycoons of the Gilded Age—Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt—is a forgotten figure: Mrs. Frank Leslie. For 20 years she ran the country’s largest publishing company, Frank Leslie Publishing, which chronicled postbellum America in dozens of weeklies and monthlies. A pioneer in an all-male industry, she made a fortune and became a national celebrity and tastemaker in the process. But Miriam Leslie was also a byword for scandal: she flouted feminine convention, took lovers, married four times, and harbored unsavory secrets that she concealed through a skein of lies and multiple personas. Both during and after her lifetime, glimpses of the truth emerged, including an illegitimate birth and a checkered youth.
Diamonds and Deadlines reveals the previously unknown, sensational life of the brilliant and brazen “empress of journalism,” who dropped a bombshell at her death: she left her entire multimillion-dollar estate to women’s suffrage—a never-equaled amount that guaranteed passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. In this dazzling biography, cultural historian Betsy Prioleau draws from diaries, genealogies, and published works to provide an intimate look at the life of one of the Gilded Age’s most complex, powerful women and unexpected feminist icons.
Ultimately, Diamonds and Deadlines restores Mrs. Frank Leslie to her rightful place in history as a monumental businesswoman who presaged the feminist future and reflected, in bold relief, the Gilded Age, one of the most momentous, seismic, and vivid epochs in American history.
Includes Black-and-White Images