|photograph via TillieAnderson.com|
Oh, how my heart stopped a beat when I came across Tillie The Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History in the NYTimes Book Review this morning! This beautifully illustrated children's book tells the super inspiring life story of Tillie Anderson - "the female bicycling champion of the world" from 1897 to 1902 during a time when women were not exactly welcomed in athletic circles.
Some historical context about Tillie...
Although Women's Bicycle Racing began in 1879, during the high wheel era, it was considered more a novelty than a sport until the advent of the diamond-framed safety bicycle in 1890.
Perhaps no one made a greater contribution to the acknowledgment of women as serious competitors in bicycle racing than Tillie Anderson.
Tillie, who from the years 1897 to 1902 was known as "female bicycling champion of the world," was born in Skane, Sweden on April 23, 1875. She was the fourth of five siblings. Tillie's reputation for having a strong will and perseverance began early.
After her father died when she was eight years old, she began working for a neighboring farmer during haying and harvesting to help support her mother, brother and three sisters.
In 1891, Tillie and her brother August emigrated to America, joining their older sister Hanna in Chicago. The rest of the family came to America the following year.
Tillie found work as a seamstress in a tailor's shop. In two years, she had saved enough money for a bicycle. Newspapers of that era like to say that she was thin and weak when she first came to America, but she was quoted as saying "I did not take to the wheel for my health, particularly. I suppose it was more for the reason that bicycles were being used by women and I wanted to try the fad."...
By Heather Drieth
Published in "The Wheelmen"
Excerpt from the book's Author's Note:
Today, we celebrate women athletes, but in the 1890s, many people thought a women's body couldn't handle the strain of athletic competition and that muscles made a woman look manly and therefore not attractive to men. Tillie was an early and pioneering example of a woman who chose to work out and develop her body for a sport.
This book may very well become my most favorite gift idea for children (of all ages) -- a gift of the love of bicycles + sweet dreams + strong women!!!!
|image via NYTimes|
|it was love at first sight|
Available on Amazon.