Vail to discuss Victorian feminist

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — June Vail will be at the Southwest Harbor Public Library on Saturday, March 30, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. to talk about the life of her great-grandmother, Gertrude Burton. The event is part of the Women’s History Month celebration at the Southwest Harbor Public Library.

Vail, a professor of theater and dance at Bowdoin College, wrote the book “The Passion of Perfection: Gertude Hitz Burton’s Modern Victorian Life.” It was selected as a 2018 Maine Literary Awards Finalist for Nonfiction.

“Passion of Perfection” chronicles a life that was discovered in a trove of family photographs, diaries and correspondence.

Burton (1861-1896) was a Gilded Age feminist reformer whose writings and lectures in Washington D.C., Boston, and Maine promoted sex education, marriage equality and “voluntary motherhood.”

Her interactions with family, friends, and well-known colleagues, including Alexander Graham Bell, Robert E. Peary, and Clara Barton, “illuminate her times — and our own 21st Century Gilded Age,” event organizers said. “Gertrude’s lectures and published writing confronted sexual double standards similar to those evident in America today. Her complicated personal journey raised questions that echo current concerns. How to create a meaningful life? How to preserve a sense of self? How to figure out a workable marriage and raise two children? How to think about and prepare for your own death?”

Copies of Vail’s book will be available for purchase and signing. Contact the library at 244-7065.

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