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The Woman They Could Not Silence
Cover of The Woman They Could Not Silence
The Woman They Could Not Silence
The Shocking Story of a Woman Who Dared to Fight Back
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From the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Radium Girls comes another dark and dramatic but ultimately uplifting tale of a forgotten woman whose inspirational journey sparked lasting change for women's rights and exposed injustices that still resonate today.

"Moore has written a masterpiece of nonfiction."—Nathalia Holt, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls

1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened—by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.

The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they've been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line—conveniently labeled "crazy" so their voices are ignored.

No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose...

Bestselling author Kate Moore brings her sparkling narrative voice to The Woman They Could Not Silence, an unputdownable story of the forgotten woman who courageously fought for her own freedom—and in so doing freed millions more. Elizabeth's refusal to be silenced and her ceaseless quest for justice not only challenged the medical science of the day, and led to a giant leap forward in human rights, it also showcased the most salutary lesson: sometimes, the greatest heroes we have are those inside ourselves.

"The Woman They Could Not Silence is a remarkable story of perseverance in an unjust and hostile world."—Susannah Cahalan, New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire

From the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Radium Girls comes another dark and dramatic but ultimately uplifting tale of a forgotten woman whose inspirational journey sparked lasting change for women's rights and exposed injustices that still resonate today.

"Moore has written a masterpiece of nonfiction."—Nathalia Holt, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls

1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened—by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.

The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they've been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line—conveniently labeled "crazy" so their voices are ignored.

No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose...

Bestselling author Kate Moore brings her sparkling narrative voice to The Woman They Could Not Silence, an unputdownable story of the forgotten woman who courageously fought for her own freedom—and in so doing freed millions more. Elizabeth's refusal to be silenced and her ceaseless quest for justice not only challenged the medical science of the day, and led to a giant leap forward in human rights, it also showcased the most salutary lesson: sometimes, the greatest heroes we have are those inside ourselves.

"The Woman They Could Not Silence is a remarkable story of perseverance in an unjust and hostile world."—Susannah Cahalan, New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire

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About the Author-
  • Kate Moore is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Radium Girls, which won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Best History, was voted U.S. librarians' favorite nonfiction book of 2017,and was named a Notable Nonfiction Book of 2018 by the American Library Association. A British writer based in London, Kate writes across a variety of genres and has had multiple titles on the Sunday Times bestseller list. She is passionate about politics, storytelling, and resurrecting forgotten heroes.

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2021

    In 1860, wife and mother Elizabeth Packard was committed to an insane asylum by her husband, who couldn't tolerate her insistence on speaking her mind. At the Illinois State Hospital, Elizabeth encountered women like her committed strictly as a means of control, and after winning her freedom she became an advocate for such women and for women's rights generally. From the author of the New York Times best-selling Radium Girls.

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    April 1, 2021
    While the Civil War erupted, housewife and mother of six, Elizabeth Packard, was detained at the Jacksonville Insane Asylum in Illinois. For three long years, she was separated from her children and subjected to heinous conditions. Her crime? Daring to have an opinion in opposition to her husband's narrow-minded beliefs. She was not alone. At that time, women were labeled hysterical and locked up for something as simple as the unfeminine habit of "novel reading." Married women were particularly vulnerable as their legal rights were nonexistent. Packard did not go down quietly. She appealed her case to anyone who would listen and covertly documented the appalling abuse she witnessed while institutionalized. The more her oppressors attempted to silence her, the harder she fought. She became a champion for women's rights and mental health reform. Moore's (The Radium Girls, 2017) expert research and impassioned storytelling combine to create an absolutely unputdownable account of Packard's harrowing experience. Readers will be shocked, horrified, and inspired. A veritable tour de force about how far women's rights have come and how far we still have to go.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 24, 2021
    Bestseller Moore (The Radium Girls) delivers a riveting chronicle of Elizabeth Packard’s (1816–1897) forced commitment to an Illinois insane asylum and advocacy for women’s equality and the rights of psychiatric patients. Skillfully drawing on Packard’s voluminous writings, Moore describes her subject’s “cheerless” marriage to Presbyterian preacher Theophilus Packard, and the couple’s growing estrangement as Elizabeth, inspired by the nascent women’s rights movement, began to publicly question his theological beliefs. Angered by his wife’s “impassioned eloquence,” Theophilus took advantage of an Illinois law that allowed husbands to have their wives committed without trial. Moore recounts Elizabeth’s shock at discovering that the Jacksonville Insane Asylum “was a storage unit for unsatisfactory wives,” details abuses by hospital attendants and superintendent Andrew McFarland, and delves into the legal and social framework that rendered married women “utterly defenseless.” After thwarting Theophilus’s plans to have her permanently committed, Elizabeth led successful campaigns to overturn coverture laws that denied rights to married women and reform asylums across the country. Moore packs in plenty of drama without sacrificing historical fidelity, and paints Elizabeth’s fierce intelligence and unflagging ambition with vibrant brushstrokes. Readers will be thrilled to discover this undersung early feminist hero. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2021
    The author of The Radium Girls returns with an inspiring story of the tireless 19th-century woman who fought against gender-based injustices. The titular woman is Elizabeth Packard (1816-1897), an Illinois mother of six who took on the legal system after she was involuntarily committed to the Jacksonville Insane Asylum in 1860 by her husband's request. Elizabeth and her husband, Theophilus, 15 years her senior, initially appeared to have a typical marriage for a mid-19th-century American couple. That all changed as Theophilus, a minister, increasingly saw his wife's outspoken support of women's rights as a threat. As Moore demonstrates, while he had "long been in the habit of trying to control" his wife, Theophilus became more concerned when she began to offer more liberal opinions on theology, abolition, and the role of women to parishioners at his church. That led to an ominous threat from husband to wife: "I shall put you into the asylum!" Moore details Elizabeth's three-year involuntary confinement and the sexist system that allowed husbands to have their wives declared insane without a diagnosis or legal hearing. Despite inhumane conditions, Elizabeth was determined to be declared sane and to become an advocate for women and the mentally ill through her own writings and advocacy. The trial in which she fought to be declared mentally fit was a media sensation, and though she prevailed, "she was now homeless. Penniless. Childless. All she had to her name were the clothes she stood up in and a manuscript she'd been repeatedly told would never see the light of day." Drawing on sources like letters, memoirs, and trial transcripts, Moore's well-researched book paints a clear picture of the obstacles Elizabeth faced both during and after her confinement and the cruel resoluteness of both her husband and doctor, who tried to control her at all costs. A vivid look at the life and times of a little-known pioneer of women's rights.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Woman They Could Not Silence
The Woman They Could Not Silence
The Shocking Story of a Woman Who Dared to Fight Back
Kate Moore
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