With The Huntress, the Arlens give us a revealing picture of the lifestyle and traditions of the Patterson-Medill publishingdynasty one of the country s most powerful and influential newspaper families but also Alicia s rebellious early years and her dominating father, Joseph Patterson. Founder and editor of the New York Daily News, Patterson was a complicated and glamorous figure who in his youth had reported on Pancho Villa in Mexico and had outraged his conservative Chicago family by briefly espousing socialism.
Not once but twice, first at age twenty, Alicia agreed to marry men her father chose, despite having her own more interesting suitors. He encouraged her to do the difficult training required for an aviation transport license; in 1934 she became only the tenth woman in America to receive one. Patterson brought her along to London to meet with Lord Beaverbrook, to Rome to meet Mussolini, and to Moscow in 1937, at the time of Stalin s show trials, where a young George Kennan took her under his wing.
Alicia caught the journalism bug writing for Liberty magazine, an offshoot of the Daily News. A trip to French Indochina highlighted her hunting skills and made the sultan of Johor an ardent admirer; another trip would involve India, the dangerous sport of pigsticking, several maharajas, and a tiger hunt. A third marriage, to Harry Guggenheim, blew hot and cold but it did last; it was with him that she started Newsday in a former car dealership on Long Island. Governor Adlai E. Stevenson, two-time Democratic candidate for president, would be one of her last admirers.
With access to family archives of journals and letters, Michael and Alice Arlen have written an astonishing portrait of a maverick newspaperwoman and an intrepid adventurer, told with humor, compassion, and a profound understanding of a time and place.
(With black-and-white illustrations throughout)"
- ISBN-13: 9781101871133
- ISBN-10: 110187113X
- Publisher: Pantheon Books
- Publish Date: August 2016
- Page Count: 368
- Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.55 pounds
A forgotten pioneer in the world of news
Before anyone had ever heard of Katharine Graham, there was Alicia Patterson. She built a major newspaper out of a small-town gazette, hobnobbed with presidents, wrote about hotspots around the globe and was a close adviser to Adlai Stevenson, the dominant liberal politician of the 1950s. She was also his lover, despite the fact that both were married.
Patterson, the founding publisher of Newsday, died too young in 1963, at the age of 56, and she’s little remembered today. The Huntress, a biography by her fond but clear-eyed niece Alice Arlen, an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, and her husband, Michael J. Arlen, a longtime New Yorker writer, revives her story.
Patterson was to-the-manor born near Chicago, with serious wealth on both sides of the family. Her father, Joe Patterson, was a scion of the colorful Medill publishing clan that ran the Chicago Tribune. Joe himself founded the New York Daily News. But his daughter did have much to overcome—she was regarded as a family disappointment, unwilling to settle down in placid upper-class matrimony.
Patterson was a top horsewoman, pioneering aviator and big-game hunter, but she later dismissed those avocations as “pointless.” Luckily for her, her third marriage, to rich, influential Harry Guggenheim, took. Although they constantly clashed, he bankrolled Newsday.
Then came Stevenson, unhappily married, intellectual, ambitious, endlessly dithering about his future. He and Patterson were lovers on and off for years, and she helped push him to two presidential runs. He lost, but he was the era’s liberal icon.
The Arlens have a breezy, witty writing style that would have pleased Patterson, an intrepid woman who finally found her true calling in journalism. Alice Arlen died earlier this year at 75; she left a buoyant tribute to the aunt who encouraged her own aspirations.