Betsy Prioleau presents Diamonds and Deadlines:
A Tale of Greed, Deceit, and a Female Tycoon in the Gilded Age
“Prioleau brings enjoyable gusto to this biography of Mrs. Frank Leslie, a media baroness in the Gay Nineties whose past was filled with hidden drama and whose public life was awash with scandal and contradiction. But the real star of the book is Gilded Age New York in all its excess, right down to a monkey in a tux.” —New York Times (Editors' Choice)
The first major biography of the glamorous and scandalous Miriam Leslie, titan of publishing and an unsung hero of women’s suffrage
Among the fabled tycoons of the Gilded Age—Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt—is a forgotten figure: Mrs. Frank Leslie. For twenty years she ran the country’s largest publishing company, Frank Leslie Publishing, which chronicled postbellum America in dozens of weeklies and monthlies. A pioneer in an all-male industry, she made a fortune and became a national celebrity and tastemaker in the process. But Miriam Leslie was also a byword for scandal: She flouted feminine convention, took lovers, married four times, and harbored unsavory secrets that she concealed through a skein of lies and multiple personas. Both before and after her lifetime, glimpses of the truth emerged, including an illegitimate birth and a checkered youth.
Diamonds & Deadlines reveals the unknown, sensational life of the brilliant and brazen “empress of journalism,” who dropped a bombshell at her death: She left her entire multimillion-dollar estate to women’s suffrage—a never-equaled amount that guaranteed passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. In this dazzling biography, cultural historian Betsy Prioleau draws from diaries, genealogies, and published works to provide an intimate look at the life of one of the Gilded Age's most complex, powerful women and unexpected feminist icons. Ultimately, Diamonds and Deadlines restores Mrs. Frank Leslie to her rightful place in history, as a monumental businesswoman who presaged the feminist future and reflected, in bold relief, the Gilded Age, one of the most momentous, seismic, and vivid epochs in American history.