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  • Jennifer Kincheloe

Evelyn Nesbit on Marriage

My guest blogger for today is Evelyn Nesbit. (Seriously).

Perhaps you knew she was a supermodel. You knew she stood at the center of the "trial of the century." You knew she was married to Harry Kendall Shaw who shot and murdered her rapist, Stanford White, on the rooftop theatre of Madison Square Garden.

But did you know she was forward thinking and wrote newspaper columns?

Here's one Evelyn wrote about marriage. (Note: Evelyn's husband was bat-shit crazy. In my mind, this makes her even more qualified to give advice.)

"While hubby is a vital cog in the realm of business and industry, while he chats with business friends and gets out into the world, wifie is doing her curl papers and getting ready to wash up his breakfast dishes. While hubby sits with his cronies at the club, wifie is at home, cooking his dinner and mending his socks.

"That is just as it should be, says satisfied hubby. If wifie should dare to stop serving him, woe to her! For so many ages, it has been taken for granted that when a woman marries she becomes her husband’s private property, that even in this enlightened era women are still slaving and toiling for their husbands.

"It is perfectly fine for women to share in keeping the home fire burning. But they must not lose their independence entirely. Go on darning socks, go on minding babies, go on cooking dinners—but for pity’s sake keep your independence!

"The only way to keep your independence is to keep your friends. Don’t let your housework absorb you so completely that the only outsiders you see are the tradesfolk and your husband’s friends. Keep young and cheerful by maintaining your individuality. In spite of being married, the woman should keep up with the friends of her girlhood and make new friends, too. And if there are men friends among them, there’s no harm done, so long as hubby knows about them. When there is to be a family party, hubby and wifie both should choose the friends who will be invited. It’s more fun that way, you will find."

Evelyn Nesbit


So, go on, ladies! Darn socks! But for pity's sake, keep your independence. Evelyn certainly did. After ditching her no-good husband, the Thaw family gave Evelyn a settlement of $25,000. She donated the lot of it to political anarchist Emma Goldman and went on to support herself. She did Vaudeville, starred in movies, opened a speakeasy, and taught ceramics.

For thousands (yes I mean thousands) of gorgeous photos of Evelyn Nesbit, check out Anneke Beunen's Pinterest Page.

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