Bertha and Ruth and Pauline and Meryl and Lily

I was invited to be on a panel about book banning, hosted by the Friends of the West Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library, on November 13. My very esteemed co-panelists were Neil Miller, author of Banned in Boston, and Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air and The Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism at Georgetown University. Beyond the shared sentiment of: Book banning = bad! we each brought a unique and specific perspective to the conversation. There were many fascinating overlaps and synergies and a few divergences (and some entertaining diversions). It was a lively and thought-provoking evening all around, with a very engaged crowd. 

Neil's presentation on the insiduous goings-on of the Watch and Ward Society and its "crusade against books" (and burlesque and "the social evil") in 1920s Boston was especially fascinating to me, given what the Horn Book's founder, Bertha Mahony Miller, was getting up to at the very same time. More to come as we delve into our centennial-celebration archive, but here's a peek. Maureen suggested a biopic about Bertha, starring Meryl Streep and with Lily Tomlin driving the book caravan. Who do we know that could make that happen?! 


Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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