26 May 2021 • Alums Reunion 2021: Author's Circle with Wickenden '76, L.H.D. '14
Join Dorothy Wickenden ’76, L.H.D. ’14 during Reunion 2021 for a virtual discussion of her new book exploring three central figures in the movements for abolition and women’s rights.
During this year’s virtual Reunion celebration, HWS will host a discussion with Executive Editor of The New Yorker and former Hobart and William Smith Colleges Trustee Dorothy H. Wickenden ’76, L.H.D. ’14.
Wickenden’s new book, The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights, tells of the intersecting lives of Harriet Tubman, Martha Wright and Frances Seward, who together shaped the national policy and attitudes toward abolition, the Underground Railroad, the early women’s rights movement and the Civil War. The three women operated out of Auburn, less than 30 miles from Geneva, at a time when upstate New York was a seething center of radical reform.
The Author’s Circle event begins at 12 p.m. on Saturday, June 5.
Tubman—no-nonsense, funny, uncannily prescient, and strategically brilliant—was one of the most important conductors on the Underground Railroad and hid the enslaved men, women and children she rescued in the basement kitchens of Wright, Quaker mother of seven, and Seward, wife of Governor, then Senator, then Secretary of State William H. Seward.
Told from the intimate perspectives of these three friends and neighbors in mid-19th century Auburn, N.Y., The Agitators relies on their richly detailed letters to illuminate women’s roles and rights during the abolition crusade, emancipation and the arming of Black troops; and about the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
To purchase this book visit the HWS College Store.
Before joining The New Yorker, Wickenden spent 15 years at The New Republic, first as managing editor and later as executive editor. Wickenden went on to serve as national affairs editor of Newsweek before moving to The New Yorker in 1995. In addition to her role as executive editor, which she has held since 1996, she is the moderator of The New Yorker’s weekly podcast, “The Political Scene.”
In 2011, Wickenden published Nothing Daunted, a New York Times bestseller that traces the westward journey of Rosamund Underwood and Dorothy Woodruff, Wickenden’s grandmother. NPR’s Fresh Air said of the book: “Wickenden summons up the last moments of frontier life, where books were a luxury and, when blizzards hit, homesteaders’ children would ski miles to school on curved barrel staves…. Nothing Daunted also reminds us that different strains of courage can be found, not just on the battlefield but on the home front, too.”
Wickenden has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New Yorker. She is the editor of The New Republic Reader: Eighty Years of Opinion and Debate, a compilation of the best work from some of the magazine’s top contributors, including George Orwell, Rebecca West, John Dewey, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and many others.
Wickenden has served on the faculty of The Writer’s Institute at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City, and she is a member of the final selection committee for The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.
Wickenden graduated from William Smith magna cum laude as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, earning her B.A. in English with high honors. She was a 1988 Nieman Fellow at Harvard and a 2018 fellow at the MacDowell Colony. She served as a member of the Colleges’ Board of Trustees from 1994 to 1998. She received the President’s Medal in 2006 and an honorary doctorate in 2014, and delivered the Commencement Address in 2019.