The Huntress : The Adventures, Escapades, and Triumphs of Alicia Patterson: Aviatrix, Sportswoman, Journalist, Publisher
by Alice Arlen and Michael J. Arlen and Blair Brown

Overview - From National Book Award–winner Michael J. Arlen and screenwriter Alice Arlen, here is the fascinating, adventurous life of Alicia Patterson, who became, at age thirty-four, one of the youngest and most successful newspaper publishers in America when she founded Newsday .  Read more...


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More About The Huntress by Alice Arlen; Michael J. Arlen; Blair Brown

From National Book Award–winner Michael J. Arlen and screenwriter Alice Arlen, here is the fascinating, adventurous life of Alicia Patterson, who became, at age thirty-four, one of the youngest and most successful newspaper publishers in America when she founded Newsday.

With The Huntress, the Arlens give us a revealing picture of the lifestyle and traditions of the Patterson-Medill pub­lishing dynasty—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)
From the Hardcover edition.

  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
  • Date: Aug 2016

From the cover
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It would likely be unfair and uncharitable (though maybe temptingly ironic) to suggest that Joe Patterson and Alice Higinbotham's brilliant wedding represented the high point in their marriage. For one thing, most marriages—even the discordant and implausible ones, even those that in hindsight might seem challenged from the beginning—are surely voyages with many stops and starts, surprises, sideline excursions, and not all of them unpleasing. For instance, years later a middle-aged Joe Patterson recalled for his twenty-six-year-old daughter, Alicia, that on their Georgia honeymoon his young wife had been "good in the hay," a snippet of information that, among other things, gives some notion of the oddly familiar relationship that came to evolve between father and daughter.

On the other hand, on the subject of that same honeymoon—two young people alone together for the first time, at a resort in the piney woods of Georgia—what the bride mostly remembered (not being one to chat easily with daughters, or anyone else, about "the hay") was the impatience and disapproval of her new husband. "He liked it that I rode," she once told her youngest daughter, Josephine, "but he was down on me for not shooting although I just didn't like to. And he was always scolding me for fussing with my hair and trying to get dressed properly." More tellingly she could sense that he was already becoming bored with her company. In fact, soon after their return he was writing glumly to his mother to the effect that Alice, "in spite of three years at Miss Porter's School," appeared to know little more than "how to read and speak a little in the French language"; indeed, save for "her interest in the decorative arts," he continued, his new wife knew little "in the way of History or Politics"—a deficiency, he said, he was doing his best to remedy by compiling a reading list for her.

In January of next year, as planned, the Pattersons settled into a modest apartment near the railroad tracks in Springfield, then a town of some forty thousand, embedded in the great, flat downstate prairie, far from the familiar sophistications of Chicago. Alice worked at learning to keep house with the help of a Swedish farm girl, who did most of the heavy lifting in an era of washtubs, laundry lines, and weighty hand irons, to say nothing of the chores and crafts of the kitchen. In her free time she tried to get through her mountain of wedding thank-you letters, and wrote almost daily to her mother, who remained doggedly skeptical of the Swedish girl's domestic skills. "Inger prepared a fine breakfast for Joe," Alice declared in one letter, "using fresh eggs obtained from her cousin, although J. was as usual in a great rush to get to his office." Joe Patterson's office was a half mile away in the statehouse, where he was just then the youngest member of the Illinois legislature—a Republican assemblyman from Chicago's Eighth District: a job he'd strenuously campaigned for in the months before his wedding, having come to the conclusion that he could accomplish more in politics than he could as a lowly reporter on the Chicago Tribune in the shadow of his august father.

In the beginning Patterson's experience of statehouse politics was much to his liking—the noisy, often raucous speechifying of downstate politicos, the slow-motion give-and-take of lengthy sessions, and then afterward the late-hours camaraderie and tavern talk, almost like a Yale fraternity without the Yale men. For much of that spring the legislature was occupied with the heated issue of Chicago street railways; at the time there existed dozens and dozens of small,...

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