Charter Books will host a presentation and book signing by Nancy Rubin Stuart, author of Poor Richard’s Women: Deborah Read Franklin and the Other Women Behind the Founding Father.

On Thursday, April 21 at 6:00 pm, Nancy Rubin Stuart will discuss her new book, a biography of the women in the life of Benjamin Franklin. After years of neglect by historians, the unsung women who loved, nurtured, and defended Benjamin Franklin are finally getting their due. 

Among the women celebrated in the book is Newport’s own Ann Smith Franklin, Benjamin’s sister-in-law and America’s first newspaper editor and publisher. Ann Franklin operated her print shop out of a school house in what is now Washington Square. From there she printed the Newport Mercury, Rhode Island’s first newspaper.

A vivid portrait of the women who loved, nurtured, and defended America’s famous scientist and founding father.

Everyone knows Benjamin Franklin—the thrifty inventor-statesman of the Revolutionary era—but not about his love life. Poor Richard’s Women reveals the long-neglected voices of the women Ben loved and lost during his lifelong struggle between passion and prudence. The most prominent among them was Deborah Read Franklin, his common-law wife and partner for forty-four years. Long dismissed by historians, she was an independent, politically savvy woman and devoted wife who raised their children, managed his finances, and fought off angry mobs at gunpoint while he traipsed about England.

Weaving detailed historical research with emotional intensity and personal testimony, Nancy Rubin Stuart traces Deborah’s life and those of Ben’s other romantic attachments through their personal correspondence. We are introduced to Margaret Stevenson, the widowed landlady who managed Ben’s life in London; Catherine Ray, the twenty-three-year-old New Englander with whom he traveled overnight and later exchanged passionate letters; Madame Brillon, the beautiful French musician who flirted shamelessly with him, and the witty Madame Helvetius, who befriended the philosophes of pre-Revolutionary France and brought Ben to his knees.

What emerges from Stuart’s pen is a colorful and poignant portrait of women in the age of revolution. Set two centuries before the rise of feminism, Poor Richard’s Women depicts the feisty, often-forgotten women dear to Ben’s heart who, despite obstacles, achieved an independence rarely enjoyed by their peers in that era.

Charter Books owner Steve Iwanski says, “Last week, Nancy spoke with me on the phone from her home in Plymouth, where she is the executive director of the Cape Cod Writers Center. She expressed ambivalence about the coincidental timing of the hit new Ken Burns series “Benjamin Franklin” airing on PBS earlier this month. While the salesman in me was excited that the TV documentary might fan some interest in all things Franklin, Nancy reminded me that it’s exactly these types of popular histories that can sometimes perpetuate traditional narratives about famous figures.”

While the event is free and open to all, Charter Books is requesting that attendees RSVP on their website so that they can plan accordingly.

Nancy Rubin Stuart is an award-winning author and journalist whose eight nonfiction books focus upon women and social history. Her most recently published books include Defiant Brides: The Untold Story of Two Revolutionary-Era Women Who Married Radical Men and The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation. A former journalist, Nancy’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, the New England Quarterly and national magazines. She serves as Executive Director of the Cape Cod Writers Center.