The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt

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Product Details

$28.00  $26.04
Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date
5.6 X 9.1 X 1.3 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

AUDREY CLARE FARLEY is a scholar of twentieth-century American literature and culture. She holds a PhD in English from University of Maryland, College Park. Her essay on Ann Cooper Hewitt, published in Narratively, was the publication's second most-read story of the year. Her writing on other topics has appeared in the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the New Republic, and many other outlets. She lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania.


"THE UNFIT HEIRESS is a sensational story told with nuance and humanity with clear reverberations to the present. Historian Audrey Clare Farley's writing jumps off the page, as Ann Cooper Hewitt, once a one-dimensional tabloid fixation, is brought into full relief as a complicated victim of her time, standing in the crosshairs of the growing eugenics movement and the emergence of a "over-sexed" and "dangerous" New Woman. But most importantly, this book is a necessary call to remember the high stakes and terrible history of the longstanding fight for control over women's bodies."--Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire
"THE UNFIT HEIRESS is the propulsive tale of a high-society scandal that triggered a high-stakes courtroom battle. It is also an illuminating exploration of America's long, dark history of eugenics and forced sterilization. By braiding together these narrative threads, Audrey Clare Farley has accomplished the rare feat of writing a book that is as thought-provoking as it is page-turning."--Luke Dittrich, New York Times bestselling author Patient H.M.
"THE UNFIT HEIRESS is not only a fascinating look at a wildly dysfunctional high society family, it's also a compulsively readable account of the reproductive myths and bigotry-driven pseudoscience that still shape our world today." --Rachel Monroe, author of Savage Appetites
"THE UNFIT HEIRESS is a triumph of compassion, historical inquiry, and intellectual rigor. In her elegant telling of Ann Cooper Hewitt's story, Farley shines her bright, empathetic light on profoundly imperfect humans and the myriad, often tragic ways we grapple for fulfillment. At the same time, she renders with crystalline precision the history of American eugenics, insisting--gently, yet steadfastly--that we look where we'd rather avert our gaze. This book startled me, seized my attention, and summoned my empathy when I least expected it."--Rachel Vorona Cote, author of Too Much
"Shocking. . . a disturbing yet thought-provoking tale of family strife and ethically unsound medical practice."--Kirkus Reviews