Big Bosses: A Working Girl's Memoir of Jazz Age America (Paperback)
  • Big Bosses: A Working Girl's Memoir of Jazz Age America (Paperback)
zoom

Big Bosses: A Working Girl's Memoir of Jazz Age America (Paperback)

(author)
£11.50
Paperback 192 Pages / Published: 22/11/2016
  • In stock online

Usually despatched within 24 hours

  • This item has been added to your basket
Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. Please check by using Click & Collect
Sharp, resourceful, and with a style all her own, Althea Altemus embodied the spirit of the independent working woman of the Jazz Age. In her memoir, Big Bosses, she vividly recounts her life as a secretary for prominent (but thinly disguised) employers in Chicago, Miami, and New York during the late teens and 1920s. Alongside her we rub elbows with movie stars, artists, and high-profile businessmen, and experience lavish estate parties that routinely defied the laws of Prohibition. Beginning with her employment as a private secretary to James Deering of International Harvester, whom she describes as "probably the world's oldest and wealthiest bachelor playboy," Altemus tells us much about high society during the time, taking us inside Deering's glamorous Miami estate, Vizcaya, an Italianate mansion worthy of Gatsby himself. Later, we meet her other notable employers, including Samuel Insull, president of Chicago Edison; New York banker S. W. Straus; and real estate developer Fred F. French. We cinch up our trenchcoats and head out sleuthing in Chicago, hired by the wife of a big boss to find out how he spends his evenings (with, it turns out, a mistress hidden in an apartment within his office, no less). Altemus was also a struggling single mother, a fact she had to keep secret from her employers, and she reveals the difficulties of being a working woman at the time through glimpses into women's apartments, their friendships, and the dangers sexual and otherwise that she and others faced. Throughout, Altemus entertains with a tart and self-aware voice that combines the knowledge of an insider with the wit and clarity of someone on the fringe. Anchored by extensive annotation and an afterword from historian Robin F. Bachin, which contextualizes Altemus's narrative, Big Bosses provides a one-of-a-kind peek inside the excitement, extravagances, and the challenges of being a working woman roaring through the '20s.

Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226423623
Number of pages: 192
Weight: 340 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 20 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"In her remarkable memoir, originally written under the pseudonym 'A Private Secretary, ' Altemus recounts the wildest indiscretions of her employers between 1918 and 1925. . . . Altemus' stories expose the challenges for young working women in the 1920s, when employers could fire secretaries for being married, a mother, or blonde. The annotations and afterword by historian Bachin provide context that enriches and clarifies the narrative."
--Booklist
"Lively and enchanting. . . . Her tales [are] dishy, witty and a ton of fun. . . . It's unclear what Altemus intended for this manuscript, which she wrote in 1932, but never released. What is clear is that, thanks to the efforts of her descendants, Hoffman, and Bachin, we are lucky now to have this remarkable--and remarkably written--document of everyday life and work in 20th century America from a perspective that is all too rarely seen."
--Chicago Tribune
"Big Bosses shows the importance of female subcultures among women workers, the significance of personal bonds of female friendship. It shows how challenging it was for women to forge lives of their own in an era when the vote was newly secured but when other basic rights for women, such as credit and property ownership in their own names, would be contested for decades to come. . . . Big Bosses stands as a real contribution to our understanding of the history of working women in Jazz Age America."--Wall Street Journal

You may also be interested in...

This is Going to Hurt
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
The Secret Teacher
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Added to basket
Everything I Know About Love
Added to basket
£12.99   £10.99
Hardback
Eastern Horizons
Added to basket
£9.99   £7.99
Paperback
Reasons to Stay Alive
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death
Added to basket
Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls 2
Added to basket
Admissions
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
Life in the Garden
Added to basket
£9.99   £7.99
Paperback
Calypso
Added to basket
£16.99   £13.99
Hardback
The Secret Barrister
Added to basket
£16.99   £13.99
Hardback
A Life of My Own
Added to basket
£9.99   £7.99
Paperback
Adventures of a Young Naturalist
Added to basket
The Billion Dollar Spy
Added to basket
£9.99   £7.99
Paperback
SAS Ghost Patrol
Added to basket
£7.99   £5.99
Paperback

Reviews

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.