Gumption: Amanda Foreman

I was not familiar with Amanda Foreman or her work till last week and I certainly never expected to write about public figures I have only admired for a few days but here it is.  She wrote the best-selling biography “Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire” (2008) which was made into a movie starring Keira Knightley and is currently working on a book about the American civil war.  I’ve seen the film “The Duchess” and am currently making my way through Foreman’s book, which grew out of her dissertation.

With a history degree from Sarah Lawrence and a Masters and PhD from Oxford, she is also a mother of five children (four daughters and a son).  She is a woman who takes pride in being a mother and describes the day that she could no longer safely carry a child as one of the saddest of her life.  There is a stillness that she embodies because of the experience of being raised by rootless and cosmopolitan parents: “My father had been uprooted.  And my mother, being English, was completely uprooted  when we moved to L.A.  For a long time, I felt incredibly lonely.  It’s just part of who I am anyway.” This upbringing in turn, influenced her desire for a large family: “I felt a need like my head was going to fall off if I couldn’t have more, perhaps from feeling isolated and lonely inside.  So I created an island, a peninsula.”  Along with her love of motherhood, she is still a woman who takes the time to work and write.  When she isn’t working she spends time with her partner and kids in the city or for weekends away since she believes that “you have make choices.  So our choices are that our family are going to be our social life.”

Tina Barney of Vogue describes her as “A spirited blonde, still girlish in her early 40s, Foreman does indeed have a musical voice and an animated delivery as she discusses her convictions, her quick brown eyes and ready smile signaling an enjoyable bracing mix of sunshine and gravitas.”  As a younger woman, it’s always good to have another example of a woman who negotiates her life with grace and dignity.