Benjamin Franklin’s Not-So-Famous Sister

250px-Benjamin_Franklin_by_Joseph-Siffred_DuplessisThey called one another “Benny” and “Jenny” throughout their lives in the letters they frequently exchanged. He was the most famous American in the world at the time. She lived a life of obscurity as a woman in colonial America who gave birth to 12 children and made her own soap. Harvard historian Jill Lepore chronicles the dichotomy of these two lives in Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, the story of Benjamin Franklin’s sister and life-long correspondent. The public broadcasting show “Here and Now” offers a substantial selection from the book as well as an interview with Lepore talking about her book. 

“… One of the things that’s great about them is they really span the whole of the 18th century, which is just these epic moments in Western history, certainly in American history,” say Lepore during the interview. “And you can follow, over the course of their lives, everything happens to them. Most of them are things that Franklin is actually doing and responsible for and that Jane is a witness to. So it’s a fantastic story. And it’s traceable the whole way through because Franklin wrote more letters to his sister Jane than he wrote to anyone else. I mean, here’s this man who corresponded with kings, you know? But he remained deeply loyal to this sister, I think, felt singularly responsible for her. So you – it this great, untold story of American letters.”



Filed under Book reviews, History of the Declaration of Independence, Scholarship and Historians

2 responses to “Benjamin Franklin’s Not-So-Famous Sister

  1. Thanks for a good suggestion, Paul – I just reserved this book at my library. I find it interesting that although women weren’t given a say in the government, they still managed to influence from behind the scenes. Abigail Adams for sure, and I’m also assuming Jane Franklin had her own views on events of the time that she shared with Ben.

  2. Pingback: It’s a Miffy, Squiffy Weird Word Wednesday | dmswriter

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