On 18th August 2020, the United States and the world celebrated 100 years since the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which secured women’s right to vote. It’s in large part thanks to the work of suffragist Clara Colby, whose life, adversities and achievements are now being unravelled in a fascinating new book.
‘Clara Colby: The International Suffragist’, by John Holliday, looks at the life of this British-American maverick as it’s never been told before.
This book is the story about a leader in the cause, which one hundred years ago, gave American women the right to vote. Clara Colby was born in England, graduated as valedictorian of the first woman’s class at the University of Wisconsin and became a writer, publisher, teacher, public speaker and friend of many leading figures of her day. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the founders of the suffrage movement in America, became Clara Colby’s mentors. Her journey is an epic saga of untiring and heroic endeavour, sometimes under the most adverse circumstances, across the United States, and her native England. She suffered great injustice, but she never complained, and her accomplishments contributed significantly to the successful introduction of the Nineteenth Amendment.
“When I learned about Clara’s life, I knew this had to be my next book,” explains the author, whose previous release, ‘Mission to China: How an Englishman Brought the West to the Orient’, was a biography of his great-great grandfather. “His name was Walter Medhurst and he was a famous missionary to China, most notable for his translation of the Bible into Chinese. Colby’s grandmother was Medhurst’s sister, so there’s a deeply personal connection to the subject matter.”
Continuing, “Her story stands out among all of those who so selflessly contributed to the suffrage movement. With the centenary of the Nineteenth Amendment coming up, and the US election in the same year, this book is extremely relevant to anyone who has an interest in politics, US history, women’s history or appreciates learning about a woman who would stop at nothing to do right by the people she represented.”
‘Clara Colby: The International Suffragist’ is available now through Ingram Wholesale, Amazon and most good book shops.
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John Holliday served in the Royal Air Force before going into the IT industry in the UK, in Canada and then Australia. A visit to a still-functioning orphanage in Jakarta, founded more than 180 years before by his ancestor, Walter Medhurst, kindled his interest in recording Walter’s life. So became ‘Mission to China: How an Englishman Brought the West to the Orient’, published first in England followed by a Chinese version published in Taiwan.
During the research into Walter Medhurst’s life, John uncovered the extraordinary life of Clara Colby, whose grandmother was Walter Medhurst’s sister. Clara Colby, he determined, must be the subject of my next book. ‘Clara Colby: The International Suffragist’ has been published in time for the 100th anniversary of American women winning the vote, to which Clara’s efforts contributed significantly.
John lives with his wife, Colleen, on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.