Back in March, I read a fascinating book about Clementine Churchill that led me to write a Musing about the aphorism, “Behind every great man stands a great woman.” I have just finished another completely absorbing book that leads me to ask a different question. How many women achieved public greatness because of their husbands?
The book I just finished, Will and Ariel Durant: A Dual Autobiography, was written in 1977, a few years before the famous historians, philosophers and authors died within weeks of each other. Brought to the United States from Russia as a toddler, Ethel (later renamed Ariel by her husband) grew up in a Jewish immigrant family that struggled economically, socially and religiously. Left much to her own devices, as a young teen she removed herself from public school joining a radical school named for an anarchist. Meanwhile, Will Durant, born to a fervently Catholic, stable family, made his own way to the school as a teacher after abandoning religious training in seminary and embracing atheism.