Eleanor Phillips Brackbill, author of “The Queen of Heartbreak Trail: The Life and Times of Harriet Smith Pullen, Pioneering Woman,” will speak at the Southwest Harbor Public Library on March 28. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL TORLEN

‘Queen of Heartbreak Trail’ author to speak

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Author Eleanor Phillips Brackbill will discuss her most recent book, “The Queen of Heartbreak Trail: The Life and Times of Harriet Smith Pullen, Pioneering Woman,” when she visits the Southwest Harbor Public Library on Tuesday, March 28, from 5:30-7 p.m.

This is the first comprehensive assessment of the Klondike Gold Rush pioneer who, despite landing alone in Skagway, Alaska, in 1897, became a successful entrepreneur, single-handedly hauling prospectors’ provisions into the Yukon where gold beckoned. Brackbill is Harriet Pullen’s great-granddaughter. She grew up with myriad family stories about her remarkable ancestor, some of which were true and some not.

“This is really an account of a fascinating, adventurous pioneering family who actively participated in the transformation of the Pacific Northwest and Alaskan frontiers,” said Publisher’s Weekly.

Brackbill has made a living building sets with a summer stock theater crew, assisting the social worker on a VA hospital psychiatric ward, running behavior experiments on preschoolers, managing a team of volunteer art museum docents and teaching three-year-olds, adolescents and college students, but none of these jobs was as satisfying as writing about history, which she has been doing since 2003. Brackbill embarked on a writing career after teaching and then serving as director of education at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York for three decades.

After earning a master’s degree in art history at Boston University, completing a curatorial fellowship in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program and studying in the art history doctoral program at City University of New York, Brackbill began her career in art history and museum education. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., and has lived in southwestern Ohio, Cambridge, Mass., Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York City and its Westchester County suburbs. She now lives near Portland with her husband, artist, writer and educator Michael Torlen.

This event is a part of the library’s celebration of Women’s History Month, “Creating Connections” March 2017. Call the library at 244-7065.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.