A quippy and irreverent collection of illustrated profiles of the great American women who weren’t attractive, well-spoken, demure, or sinless enough to receive their rightful place in history, until now, from New York Times bestselling author Therese Oneill.

Slut. Shrew. Sinful. Scold. The 19th- and early 20th-century American women profiled in this collection were called all these names and worse when they were alive. And that’s just fine.

These glorious dames earned those monikers, and one hundred years later they can wear them proudly! They refused to conform to societal standards. They bucked everyday niceties and blazed their own trails. They were collectively unbecoming as women, but they forever changed what women can become.

With irresistible charm and laugh-out-loud impertinence, New York Times bestselling author Therese Oneill chronicles the lives of eighteen unbecoming ladies whose audacity, courage, and sheer disdain for lady-like expectations left them out of so many history books. Curious readers will learn about forgotten heroines such as:
-Dr. Mary Edwards Walker: who, despite being the only woman ever awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, was shunned and forgotten due to her insistence on wearing pants in public.
-Elizabeth Packard: whose careful record of her own unjust incarceration in a 19th century madhouse by her husband (her crime: not wanting to be Presbyterian anymore) led to nationwide law reforms to protect the rights of those with mental health issues.
-Lilian Gilbreth: best remembered for being the real-life mom of Cheaper by the Dozen but who probably should be remembered for scientifically removing the stigma of the sanitary napkin and designing the modern-day kitchen.
-And many more!

With dozens of illustrations and historical photographs throughout, Unbecoming a Lady shines a light on unforgettable, impressive women who deserve to be remembered.

About the author(s)

Therese Oneill is the New York Times bestselling author of Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners and Ungovernable: The Victorian Parent’s Guide to Raising Flawless Children. She lives in Oregon with her family.


Unbecoming a Lady: The Forgotten Sluts and Shrews who Shaped America is a quick read, an often sarcastic and easily relatable tome for anyone who appreciates a woman with cojones.” NY Journal of Books

“Stories of turn-of-the-century gals who were anything but well-behaved— unashamed, unvirtuous, flagrant, selfish, transgressive, weird—and are mostly unsung today? Sign me up….Give this one to all your lady friends who give no Fs.” —BookPage 

“Fascinating… Oneill gathers a cast of remarkable women for an enjoyable, raucous romp through history.”Kirkus 

More Topic

More Humor

More All Other Nonfiction

More Cultural & Ethnic Studies