Author Emily Bingham to discuss “irrepressible” relative at convocation
Author Emily Bingham will deliver an address at Centre College in a convocation, “Irrepressible: A Jazz Age Life Revealed,” on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. in the Vahlkamp Theater in Crounse Hall. The event is free and open to the public and counts as a convocation credit for Centre students.
Bingham’s book, “Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham,” explores the life of Henrietta Bingham, the author’s great-aunt. Henrietta rubbed shoulders with members of high society in the 1920s but simultaneously challenged convention by embracing her homosexuality, leading her to be ostracized by her family.
Before writing “Irrepressible,” Bingham knew little about her great-aunt, and did much of her research by literally digging through Henrietta’s past, preserved in trunks of letters and mementos. Bingham will discuss how these personal items helped bring her relative to life on the page in her convocation address.
“Henrietta has now become a member of my family in a way she never was before,” Bingham said in an interview with the New York Times. “She was brave, and flawed, and spectacular.”
“Irrepressible” has been praised and profiled by such publications as as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Garden & Gun, the Daily Beast, Bustle and the Times of London, among others. The Kirkus Review also named it one of their best nonfiction books of 2015, and Louisville’s beloved Carmichael Bookstore announced that it was their top-selling book in 2015.
“It’s hard to resist a biography with a preface that features the discovery of attic trunks filled with nearly 200 beribboned love letters, a first edition of Virginia Woolf’s ‘The Years’ and a court ensemble once owned by the 1930s shorts-wearing rebel tennis star Helen Jacobs,” said a reviewer of “Irrepressible” in the New York Times.
A review of “Irrepressible” in the New Yorker magazine praised Bingham’s ability to capture “both the giddy rebellion of her aunt’s youth and her slow, startling unravelling.”
Bingham comes from a family of wordsmiths: her father was the most recent of a long family line of editors and publishers of the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times. Her aunt, Sallie Bingham, is also a published author, known for the book “Passion and Prejudice: A Family Memoir.”
Bingham received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and earned a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has previously taught at Centre, as well as at the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University. Her essays and articles have been published by such outlets as Vogue, Newsweek, The Journal of Southern History and the New England Review, among others.
Along with “Irrepressible,” Bingham has also published “Mordecai: An Early American Family” (2003). She also co-edited “The Southern Agrarians and the New Deal: Essays After I’ll Take My Stand” (2001) with Thomas A. Underwood.
by Elizabeth Trollinger
October 3, 2016