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Joanna Scutts

Writer

New York, NY

Joanna Scutts

History, feminism, books, art, cocktails

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Single, 40 and childless: Why is that still a problem?

On its surface, Glynnis MacNicol’s memoir seems simple, even mundane: a straight, single woman turns 40 and faces the challenge of defining herself and her life in the absence of marriage and children. As a successful journalist living in New York, MacNicol is aware of the privilege that has allowed her to find fulfillment in work and friendship rather than conventional domesticity.
The Washington Post Link to Story
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Viv Albertine’s Punk Memories

“Anyone who writes an autobiography is either a twat or broke,” Viv Albertine, guitarist for the all-female punk band The Slits, wrote in the introduction to her first book Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.: A Memoir, which came out in 2014. “I’m a bit of both.” Cynicism and sympathy wrapped in a self-deprecating sneer, it was a distinctly British opening to the brash, sometime brutal story of a working-class girl’s coming of age in London in the 1960s and ‘70s.
The New Republic Link to Story
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Four women who ‘changed our world’

They were single and married, mothers and not, educated and self-taught, financially comfortable and struggling. Their work spans the second half of the 20th century and continues into the present. They did not know one another. But in her lively new biography of Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Alice Waters, Andrea Barnet makes a compelling case that these women “changed our world.”
The Washington Post Link to Story
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Wallis Simpson Was No Bold Forerunner

Throughout her life, where Wallis lived and traveled, what she did and who with, was dictated entirely by her man, or men, of the moment. No wonder she was furious most of the time.
The New Republic Link to Story
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Chasing revelation on a long-distance run through a natural landscape

This four-mile race, with its entry fee, timing chips, bib numbers, medals and tightly managed course, is far removed from the solitary, unencumbered, mostly barefoot running that Cregan-Reid celebrates: a plastic bottle of Gatorade to his handful of water gulped from a mountain stream.
The Washington Post Link to Story
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The Manhattan Project Physicist Who Fought for Equal Rights for Women

THIS PIECE IS PART OF AN ONGOING SERIES ON THE UNSUNG WOMEN OF HISTORY. From an early age, nuclear physicist Chien-Shiung Wu had to travel in order to learn: first 50 miles, then 150—and eventually, to the other side of the world.
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Helen Gurley Brown: Cosmo editor's quest for glamour, sex and power

At a Brooklyn event, the biographer of the era-defining editor of Cosmopolitan discussed her subject’s strengths and foibles, as well as her feminism
The Guardian Link to Story
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The Mysterious Woman Behind J.P. Morgan’s Library

THIS PIECE IS PART OF AN ONGOING SERIES ON THE UNSUNG WOMEN OF HISTORY. By all accounts, not much was said in the 1905 meeting between the 68-year-old, walrus-mustached financier J. Pierpont Morgan and the young woman who would become his personal librarian—a gruff greeting, a quick nod of approval, perhaps a handshake.
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The Woman Who Kicked Down Wall Street’s Doors

THIS PIECE IS PART OF AN ONGOING SERIES ON THE UNSUNG WOMEN OF HISTORY. On her first trip away from her home in Ohio, in the early 1950s, a teenaged Muriel Siebert visited the New York Stock Exchange. Later, in her autobiography, she would recall the trading floor, seen from above, as a “sea of men in dark suits,” resounding with the “clamorous human buzz of… thousands of deals.”.
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A Publishing House of Her Own

As a child, Blanche Wolf wanted more than anything to live a life surrounded by books. When she met Alfred Knopf in 1911, she was attracted most of all to his bookishness. Her dream life was simple, heartbreakingly so: “We decided we would get married and make books and publish them.” How could she have known that the hardest part of that dream was the “we”?
The New Republic Link to Story
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30 Books in 30 Days: Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk

The goshawk is not an easy bird to tame, to take under one’s wing.
Literary Hub Link to Story
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Book Review: ‘‘Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham’ by Emily Bingham

Like Zelda Fitzgerald, that other Southern belle turned Jazz Age icon, Henrietta Bingham was the daughter of a judge, born in Kentucky to wealth and family instability at the turn of the 20th century. But although she met many influential writers and artists of the 1920s, she never married any of them, nor established herself as a cultural figure in her own right.
The Washington Post Link to Story

About

Joanna Scutts

I'm a historian, critic, and curator based in Astoria, New York (not far from the Hellgate Bridge, above.) My first book, THE EXTRA WOMAN: HOW MARJORIE HILLIS LED A GENERATION OF WOMEN TO LIVE ALONE AND LIKE IT, was published in November 2017 by Liveright/W.W. Norton. It tells the story of a forgotten 1930s lifestyle guru and the world of self-help and women's independence in mid-century America.
Most recently I was the inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Women's History at the New-York Historical Society, where I helped open the first dedicated Center for Women's History in an American museum.
My work has appeared in the Washington Post, New Republic, Guardian US, TIME.com, New Yorker online, In These Times, Daily Beast, the Nation, and the Wall Street Journal. I hold a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and have taught literature and writing at Columbia, Barnard College, and NYU's Gallatin School.
Agent: Kate Johnson, MacKenzie Wolf.

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joannascutts.com

Skills

  • Teaching
  • Copy Editing
  • Editing
  • Writing