Kathleen Brady, author and biographer, spoke about her work on Lucille Ball and Ida Tarbell as part of the Turner Winter Series at the Robert H. Jackson Center.
Brady credits St. Bonaventure University for his journalism skills. She is a former reporter for Time magazine and has contributed to various works for Newsday and other publications.
“It was the basics – the who, what, where, why, how – and sticking to it,” she says. “I also think, strangely enough, the training I got there to be…a polite human being also helped me because I think it helped me get interviews, get interviews and make people say yes.”
Brady said she is very proud of St. Bonaventure and also appreciates the work of Jamestown Community College, where she also spoke recently.
She said that every book she writes is different. The last book she wrote, “Francis and Clare: The Struggles of the Saints of Assisi”, was especially difficult because no one was alive to be a source. Instead, she worked with texts written shortly after the lives of those she writes about.
“I gave particular weight to little human stories – things that weren’t necessarily about holiness, but about normality, like Clare when she was sick and in the dorm all alone while others were doing the work of the house. community”, she says. “She was talking to her cat, and I thought, ‘Isn’t that wonderful?’ And don’t we all talk to our pets?
Brady said she felt a special connection to Tarbell while working on her book, “Ida Tarbell: Portrait of a Muckraker.” Tarbell was a journalist known for writing the history of the Standard Oil Company, and locally was connected with the Chautauqua institution as editor of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. His writings on the Standard Oil Company led to the company’s dissolution.
“I felt an inspiration from Ida, and it meant a lot to me as a girl – I’m talking fourth grade – when I saw a woman’s name in our story book,” she says. “It really meant a lot to me because I wanted to be a journalist, and here is a writer and a woman who made their way into our history book.”
Brady said she carried that importance over the years until a friend suggested she write a biography on Tarbell. She said having such a role model in the story had an impact on her life.
“I am living proof of the importance of the diversity of voices in our American history”, she says. “A diversity of people, everyone, all people of all kinds have made America great. I’m so glad we learned to include everyone; it wasn’t just the great white men who, like all of us, had characteristics of which we are not always proud.
Brady said Tarbell was also a biographer, particularly of President Abraham Lincoln. She said there had been hundreds of biographies of Lincoln since Tarbell’s book; However, “The Lincoln she discovered is the Lincoln we know.”
Brady also wrote a biography about Ball, titled “Lucille, The Life of Lucille Ball.” She went to Jamestown several times and had the opportunity to meet Ball’s school friends.
“They were friends of Lucille Ball until the day she died,” she says. “She was a very loyal woman – everyone who helped her, she never forgot. She struggled here. It was tough, and it was tough times. Depression and all that you have.
Brady said she “feels the vibrations” of Ball and Tarbell when she visits Chautauqua County.