The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber

the-rebellion-of-miss-lucy-ann-lobdell“The riveting true story of Lucy Lobdell, who, in 1855, left her home and family, cut her hair, changed clothes, and went off to live her life as a man. By the time it was over, she was notorious.

At a time when women did not commonly travel unescorted, carry a rifle, sit down in bars, or have romantic liaisons with other women, Lucy Lobdell boldly set forth to earn men’s wages. Lucy Lobdell did all of these things in a personal quest to work and be paid, to wear what she wanted, and love whomever she cared to. But to gain those freedoms she had to endure public scorn and wrestle with a sexual identity whose vocabulary had yet to be invented. In this riveting historical novel, William Klaber captures the life of a brave woman who saw well beyond her era.

This is the fictionalized account of Lucy’s foray into the world of men and her inward journey to a new sexual identity. It is her promised memoir as hear and recorded a century later by William Klaber, an upstream neighbor. Meticulously researched and told with compassion and respect, this is historical fiction at its best.” – Goodreads

The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell is a fictional novel. Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, however, was a very real woman. Allow me to explain. Author William Klaber, a part-time journalist, took artistic license to tell the true story of Miss Lobdell, who in 1855 left her family and child behind, cut her hair and donned men’s clothing, and struck out to live life as a man – as Joseph Israel Lobdell, to be exact. What followed was a journey of self-discovery, discrimination, pioneering, successes and failures, and the development of an entirely new sexual identity for Lucy/Joseph.

The tale Klaber weaves is gleaned from actual letters, newspapers, and other historical documents passed on to him from a local historian in upstate New York. He obviously performed meticulous research and worked hard to stay true to the Lucy/Joseph he met that way. Says Klaber,

“It has taken a long time for her voice to ring true in my head. Someone else might go into the forest and hear a different voice, but this is Lucy’s story as I have heard her tell it.”

Indeed, with this novel, Klaber has given us a rare gift. So little written history is found regarding women both great and small (this brings to mind a short story collection I am currently reading, Almost Famous Women – Joseph Lobdell could well have been included in its pages). Furthermore, the respect – and yes, even love – Klaber treats his subject with comes through as one reads each page leaving readers with a reverence for Lobdell all their own.

In an age where marriage and gender equity have made enormous progress, and the rights of transgender individuals have some protections (although not nearly enough), The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell gives us an enlightening view of what life was like in earlier days for those who first bravely broke the mold and blazed a trail for future generations. Highly recommended.

The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber: Read it today!

4 stars

Source: Free Library of Philadelphia

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