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A Woman's Education

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
The acclaimed author of the best-selling The Road from Coorain and True North now gives us the third book in her remarkable continuing memoir—describing the pleasures, the challenges, and the constant surprises (good and bad) of her years as the first woman president of Smith College.

The story opens in 1973 as Conway, unbeknownst to her, is first “looked over” as a prospective candidate by members of the Smith community, and continues as she assesses her passions and possibilities and agrees to the new challenge of heading the college in 1975. The jolt of energy she gets from being surrounded by several thousand young women enables her to take on the difficulties that arise in dealing with the diverse Smith constituencies—from the self-appointed protectors of the great male tradition of humanistic learning to the equally determined young feminists insisting on change. We see Conway juggling the needs and concerns of faculty, students, parents, trustees, and alumnae, and re-defining and redesigning aspects of the college to create programs in line with the new realities of women’s lives. We sense the urgency of her efforts to shape an institution that will attract students of the 1990s and beyond.

Through it all we see Jill Ker Conway coping with her husband’s illness, and learning to protect and sustain her inner self. As the end of a decade at Smith approaches, we see her realizing that she has both had her education and made her contributions, and that it is time now for her to graduate.


From the Hardcover edition.
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The acclaimed author of the best-selling The Road from Coorain and True North now gives us the third book in her remarkable continuing memoir—describing the pleasures, the challenges, and the constant surprises (good and bad) of her years as the first woman president of Smith College.

The story opens in 1973 as Conway, unbeknownst to her, is first “looked over” as a prospective candidate by members of the Smith community, and continues as she assesses her passions and possibilities and agrees to the new challenge of heading the college in 1975. The jolt of energy she gets from being surrounded by several thousand young women enables her to take on the difficulties that arise in dealing with the diverse Smith constituencies—from the self-appointed protectors of the great male tradition of humanistic learning to the equally determined young feminists insisting on change. We see Conway juggling the needs and concerns of faculty, students, parents, trustees, and alumnae, and re-defining and redesigning aspects of the college to create programs in line with the new realities of women’s lives. We sense the urgency of her efforts to shape an institution that will attract students of the 1990s and beyond.

Through it all we see Jill Ker Conway coping with her husband’s illness, and learning to protect and sustain her inner self. As the end of a decade at Smith approaches, we see her realizing that she has both had her education and made her contributions, and that it is time now for her to graduate.


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
Paperback (160 pages)
Published: November 12, 2002
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780679744627
Other books byJill Ker Conway
  • True North

    True North
    A Memoir
    True North is the inspirational Canadian Chapter of Jill Ker Conway's life story, which began with her much love, bestselling memoir, The Road from Coorain.  Beginning with her departure from Australia, Jill Ker Conway tells of her romance with Harvard House Master John Conway, of coming to grips with his manic-depressive disorder, and of their move to Canada in 1964 where she became the first female vice-president at the University of Toronto.  In this vibrant memoir, we watch as a most private woman makes of herself a public persona in Canada.

    The Road from Coorain

    The Road from Coorain
    Jill Ker Conway is a noted historian, specializing in the experience of women in America, and was the first woman president of Smith College.From the Trade Paperback edition.

    When Memory Speaks

    When Memory Speaks
    Exploring the Art of Autobiography
    J ill Ker Conway, one of our most admired  autobiographers--author of The Road from Coorain and True North--looks astutely and with feeling into the modern memoir: the forms and styles it assumes, and the strikingly different ways in which men and women respectively tend to understand and present their lives. In a narrative rich with evocations of memoirists over the centuries--from Jean-Jacques Rousseau and George Sand to W. E. B. Du Bois, Virginia Woolf, Frank McCourt and Katharine Graham--the author suggests why it is that we are so drawn to the reading of autobiography, and she illuminates the cultural assumptions behind the ways in which we talk about ourselves. Conway traces the narrative patterns typically found in autobiographies by men to the tale of the classical Greek hero and his epic journey of adventure. She shows how this configuration evolved, in memoirs, into the passionate romantic struggling against the conventions of society, into the frontier hero battling the wilderness, into self-made men overcoming economic obstacles to create an invention or a fortune--or, more recently, into a quest for meaning, for an understandable past, for an ethnic identity. In contrast, she sees the designs that women commonly employ for their memoirs as evolving from the writings of the mystics--such as Dame Julian of Norwich or St. Teresa of Avila--about their relationship with an all-powerful God. As against the male autobiographer's expectation of power over his fate, we see the woman memoirist again and again believing that she lacks command of her destiny, and tending to censor her own story. Throughout, Conway underlines the memoir's magic quality of allowing us to enter another human being's life and mind--and how this experience enlarges and instructs our own lives.

    Felipe the Flamingo

    Felipe the Flamingo
    A story about Felipe, a young flamingo, who is left behind when his flock migrates to find more food. Other creatures care for him until he's grown enough to join the flock and his family.

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  • If we're lucky, the places and people that can give our lives an aura of magic potential enter our experience at the right moment to sustain our dreams.

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