Scandalous Women Radio: Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland

Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome author Lauren Willig this week to talk about the scandalous life of Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837). The only daughter of the infamous Josephine and step-daughter to Napoleon, Hortense was married off to his brother Louis and made Queen of Holland. But she was in love with another man, the Comte de Flahaut, rumored to be the illegitimate son of Talleyrand. During the Hundred Days, her support of her step-father meant that she was banished from France. She died at the age of 54 in 1837. She never lived to see her son Napoleon become the Emperor of the French as Napoleon III.

Please tune in to Scandalous Women, tomorrow, April 1 at a special time, 6:00 p.m.

A native of New York City, Lauren Willig has been writing romances ever since she got her hands on her first romance novel at the age of six. Three years later, she sent her first novel off to a publishing house—all three hundred hand-written pages. They sent it back. Undaunted, Lauren has continued to generate large piles of paper and walk in front of taxis while thinking about plot ideas.

After thirteen years at an all girls school (explains the romance novels, doesn’t it?), Lauren set off for Yale and co-education, where she read lots of Shakespeare, wrote sonnet sequences when she was supposed to be doing her science requirement, and lived in a Gothic fortress complete with leaded windows and gargoyles. After college, she decided she really hadn’t had enough school yet, and headed off to that crimson place in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a degree in English history. Like her modern heroine, she spent a year doing dissertation research in London, tramping back and forth between the British Library and the Public Records Office, reading lots of British chick lit, and eating far too many Sainsbury’s frozen dinners.

By a strange quirk of fate, Lauren signed her first book contract during her first month of law school. She finished writing "Pink Carnation" during her 1L year, scribbled "Black Tulip" her 2L year, and struggled through "Emerald Ring" as a weary and jaded 3L. After three years of taking useful and practical classes like “Law in Ancient Athens” and “The Globalization of the Modern Legal Consciousness”, Lauren received her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. For a year and a half, she practiced as a litigation associate at a large New York law firm. But having attained the lofty heights of second year associate, she decided that book deadlines and doc review didn't mix and departed the law for a new adventure in full time writerdom.

Fascinating Women: Edith Minturn Stokes

The paintings of John Singer Sargent have gone in and out of fashion over the years. I, for one, am an unrepentant Sargentaholic! One of my favorite things to do is to go to the American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to visit my two favorite paintings of his, Madame X, and this portrait of Mrs. I.N. Phelps Stokes, also known as Edith Minturn Stokes. What do I love about this painting? Where do I start! I love the vitality of the subject, she just glows with health and energy. And then the slight smile on her face.  She looks fresh and alive and most of all modern. Even her outfit reflects her independence, it's as if she's game for anything.  Love the hands on the hips!

Edie's brother Robert once described her as 'fierce.' As a toddler, one of the games that she liked to play was to try and escape the parasol her mother held over her on the beach, running shrieking to the waves. 30 years old when this portrait was painted, she'd already had a bit of notoriety when the sculptor Daniel Chester French sculpted her for Chicago's Columbian Exposition as the face of the Republic.

The portrait was a wedding present from a family friend, James Scrimser. The couple had been on an extended honeymoon in Paris when they decided to visit London to have the portrait done. It was 1897, the year of Queen Victoria's Jubilee. According to Jean Zimmerman's new mini-biography about Edith and her husband Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes entitled Love Fiercely, A Gilded Age Romance (Hougton Mifflin 2012), Edith initially wore a blue evening gown for her portrait. But after five weeks of sittings, Sargent wasn't satisfied with the painting so he scrapped it. It wasn't until Edith and her husband showed up at Sargent's studio in Chelsea in London after walking across the city that he knew how he wanted to paint her, in her every day clothes. When the painting was first exhibited, Edith's outfit caused comment. Her simple shirtwaist and skirt, mannish jacket and tie, plus the straw boater sitting on her hip reflected a more modern woman, one who rode a bicycle, possibly worked for a living as a teacher or a journalist.

One of the many things that I love about the painting is the fact that her husband stands behind her, almost as an afterthought (Sargent had initially thought of painting a Great Dane standing beside her). He stands with his arms folded, in the shadows. It's clear from the painting that Edith is the more extroverted partner in the marriage, and that her husband is quite happy and even a little amused to even be in the painting.  Perhaps he was just amazed that he'd finally gotten Edith to marry him!

Both Edie and her husband Newton were contemporaries of Edith Wharton. In fact they could have stepped out of the pages of one of her novels. Theirs was a world filled with balls, mansions, summer 'cottages' and European vacatons. Both came from old money, at one time Newton's grandfather Anson owned most of the Murray Hill neighborhood in New York. The house he grew up in now houses the Morgan Library.  Edith's paternal grandfather built the world's fastest clipper ship. Her maternal ancestors were equally illustrious. Her Josephine Shaw Lowell was involved with the settlement movement in New York, and her uncle was Robert Gould Shaw who led the 54th Massachusetts regiment depicted in the film Glory. The couple, both born in 1867, grew up together on Staten Island where the Minturns and the Stokes had homes before the hoi polloi moved in and made it unfashionable. Edith's father Robert suffered a reversal of fortune briefly, but luckily for Edith she was spared Lily Bart's fate.  Although her debut was much simpler than the usual debutantes, in a few years, the Minturn fortunes had been restored.
Both Edith and Newton were 28 when they got married in 1895. After spending years abroad studying architecture in Paris, over New Years 1894/95, Newton finally turned his attention to his childhood friend. But he had no game! On a sleigh ride in the country, he tried to propose but Edith cut himn off at the pass. With his tail between his legs, Newton went back to Paris to lick his wounds. It was only when her sister sent him a letter hinting that he should try again, conveniently letting him know exactly where they were going to be, that Newton came back to the States.  On the way, he stopped off in London for a new wardrobe! At the Minturn summer home in Canada, he pressed his suit again and this time he was accepted. Still, he wasn't sure if the marriage was actually going to take place until he saw his bride walk down the aisle. Unusually for the time, the marriage took place 2 months after the engagement.  Clearly Newton wanted to get his bride down the aisle as soon as possible!

But once Edith made up her mind to marry him, she never looked back. The couple were both interested more in improving the lives of others than spending their time attending balls. Newton plied his trade as an architect (among his buildings are St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia University, and the University Settlement House), as well as attempting to create decent housing for the poor. However, he's most known for a 6 volume tome called the Iconography of Manhattan Island. Edith became involved with the New York Kindergarten Association, and also ran a sewing school for immigrant women. Unable to have children, the couple adopted a little girl from England. Oh, and did I mention that they bought a house in England and had it taken down and then shipped across the Atlantic?

Edith seems to have suffered from chronic hypertension which often left her an invalid which greatly curtailed her work. In her sixties, she suffered a series of strokes, which left her almost completely paralyzed. Her husband would spend hours reading to her from her favorite books, or playing her favorite music.  She finally passed away at the age of 70 in 1937.  Her husband lived on for another 7 years until he passed away in 1944.  Their ashes are buried together at St. Paul's Chapel. Interesting factoid, Edith's great niece was Edie Sedgwick, the 1960's and Warhol icon, who was named after her. Her other niece (daughter of her sister Gertrude who married Amos Pinchot) was Rosamond Pinchot Gaston.

Other painters such as Cecilia Beaux (see below) painted Edith but they are more conventional portraits.

and then there is this one painted by Fernand Paillet (owned by the New York Historical Society), painted in 1892 when Edith was 25.

While both are beautiful, I don't think they come close to the Sargent portrait.  That woman I'd like to get to know, to hang out with.  The woman in the other portraits is someone that you might see at a tea party and have a pleasant conversation with.  They don't have the vitality that Sargent's portrait does.

And the Winner is......................

The winner of the March Madness Giveaway thanks to is


Wendy,  I will be sending you an email to get your address.  And I want to thank everyone for entering the giveway.  Please give coming back and reading the blog as I bring you more Scandalous Women over the next few months! And maybe a few more giveaways!

Skittles - The Last Victorian Courtesan

Recently a friend and I were talking about Jesse James and his affair with the stripper Skittles.  The lovely and talented Hope Tarr thought we were talking about another Skittles, Catherine Walters, the last Victorian courtesan. I had totally forgotten about Skittles, probably because she was less flamboyant than some of the other Victorian courtesans. Skittles wasn't necessarily interested in being famous, unlike Cora Pearl, who seemed to court notoriety.

Imagine if there were trading cards for courtesans! I imagine that the one for Skittles would look this.

Name: CatherineWalters

Nickname: Skittles or Skitsie to her intimates.
Born: June 13, 1839 in Liverpool at No. 1 Henderson Street, in a drab and dirty street near the docks.
Died: 1920
Parents: Edward Walters, a custom employee, and Mary Ann Fowler
Siblings: 3rd of 5 children. 
Religion: Baptized a Catholic
Appearance: Small and slender, with grey-blue eyes and chestnut hair. 
She dressed inexpensively at first but with great taste, wearing clothing that was modest and subdued. Her riding habit was cut to so perfectly to the contours of her body that there was speculation that she wore nothing underneath it. If Cora Pearl were Versace and Vivienne Westwood, than Catherine would be more Chanel and Givenchy.

Traits: Exceptional beauty, practical nature, and riding skills, acquired while working in a livery stable. She was also effervescent, outspoken, direct and bawdy. Her naturalness was one of her chief attributes as a courtesan, she remained affectionate and sympathetic. “She had the most capacious heart I know and must be the only whore in history to retain her heart intact,” wrote journalist Henry Labouchere.  Never once did she seek to revenge herself on her lovers after the affair was over. There would be no autobiography detailing her lovers such as the ones penned by Cora Pearl or Harriette Wilson.

One of her most unusual traits was her ability to bind her lovers to her not only for the night or a for a few months but for life. One of her biographers, Henry Blyth, wrote that she possessed the quality of being loved. She also never attempted to bankrupt her lovers as did Cora Pearl and some of the other grandes horizontales of the 19th century.
Occupation: Courtesan
Lovers:  Marquess of Hartington, Prince of Wales, Achille Fould, Lord Fitzwilliams, Wilfred Scawen-Blunt, Aubrey DeVere Beauclerk

Background: Not much is known about Catherine’s early life in Liverpool, what her childhood might have been, where or how long she might have been educated. Her father was heavy drinker, so whatever money he made probably was spent on drink. One of her lovers, Wilfred Scawen-Blunt wrote in his diaries that Catherine’s mother died when she was four and that she had been sent to a convent school from which she had run away. Nor where she first learned to ride, one of the great passions of her life. One story is that she worked for a time as a bare-back rider in a traveling circus. Perhaps she saw one as a child and fell in love with the horses and wanted to ride. The most credible story is that she had access to the local stables and that she taught herself to ride by helping out in the stables and by exercising the horses.
For Catherine, riding was her entry into a better world than the one she came from. While other courtesans traded on their beauty, Catherine could outride and outhunt most men. Catherine appears not to have had the Victorian female aversion to sex, which boded well for her future profession. She was selective, choosing her lovers more because she enjoyed their company than for what they could do for her. She became the mistress of George, Lord Fitzwilliam at the age of 16. He set her up in London, when the relationship ended, he made her a generous settlement of £ 300 a year and a lump sum payment of £ 2,000. By this time she was known as ‘Skittles’ probably a reference to the fact that when she was young she worked setting up skittles in a local bowling alley, the Black Jack Tavern near the docks.
At the age of 19, she became the mistress of Spencer Compton Cavendish, Lord Hartington nicknamed ‘Harty-Tarty.’ He was the eldest son of one of the premiere Dukes in the kingdom, the 7th Duke of Devonshire. A shy and immature young man of 26 when they met, he was to become a major figure in Liberal politics and was considered by many as Gladstone‘s natural successor. By 1859, when she was 20, she was installed in a lovely little house in Mayfair, horses with a life settlement of an annual sum of £ 500 which the family continued to pay even after Hartington‘s death in 1908. Her relationship with Hartington lasted about four years and seems to have been greatly affectionate on both sides. The greatest passion that she and Hartington shared, and the only one they were able to indulge in publicly together, was hunting. While her lover occupied himself with his duties in Parliament, Catherine had lessons with a governess.

Catherine is also said to have worked as one of the celebrated ‘horse-breakers’ who paraded in Hyde Park from the hours of 5 to 7, where she first attracted widespread attention. In 1861, the future poet laureate Alfred Austin wrote a poem entitled ‘The Season’ which mentioned Skittles by name. When the painting "The Shrew Tamed," by Edwin Landseer was exhibited in 1861, it was assumed that she was the model for the womanin the painting, although it was also claimed that it was a woman named Annie Gilbert. Skittles had arrived!

Her horsemanship, for which she was passionately admired for, meant that she found acceptance on the hunting field that she was denied in other social situations. Stories about her daring abound, both on and off the field. She once cleared the 18 foot water fence at the National Hunt Steeplechase, on a bet, after three other riders tried and failed. She won £ 100 for her efforts. While the men on the hunting field were accepting of her, their wives were another story. When she rode with the Quorn, the wife of the Master of the Quorn who was the Earl of Stamford, took exception to Catherine’s presence. This despite the fact that the Countess had been a gamekeeper’s daughter and possibly a circus performer. Catherine left with good grace, but she is supposed to have remarked, ‘Why does Lady Stamford give herself such airs? She’s not the Queen of our profession, I am.”

After her relationship with Hartington ended, Catherine decided to move to Paris during the 2nd Empire of Napoleon III for a fresh start. Here she established herself as one of that select band of grandes cocottes. In Paris, rivals such as Cora Pearl, dyed their hair yellow or pink, entertained their paramours whilst lying in solid onyx bath tubs with taps of gold, and considered nakedness shameful only if one was not covered in diamonds. Catherine preferred to dress like a lady, she had a naturalness that must have seemed like a breath of fresh air in the hothouse atmosphere of Paris. “There was something special, very select and reminiscent of London and Hyde Park,” Zed wrote, When she appeared in the avenue de l’Imperatrice, driving herself with two beautiful sparkling pure-blooded horses, followed by two grooms on horseback in splendid and elegant uniform….every head turned, and all eyes were on her.”
One of her many admirers was the young diplomat and poet Wilfred Scawen Blunt (1840-1922) who was 23 when they met. Blunt fell deeply in love with her to the point of obsession. He was not her only lover which sent him into paroxysms of jealousy. The affair ended in a public scandal when the Ambassador to Paris, Lord Crowley discovered that while Blunt had been wooing his daughter Feodore to the point of being considered her ‘unofficial‘ fiancĂ©, he’d been off sleeping with Skittles. Despite the family’s expectations, Blunt couldn’t bring himself to propose. Blunt was dismissed from his position at the embassy. After their relationship ended, Blunt never loved another woman the way that he loved Skittles. She was the inspiration for his narrative poem ‘Esther.’ When he married, he determined to marry for money, capturing the heart of Lady Anne King-Noel, the daughter of Ada, Countess of Lovelace and the granddaughter of Lord Byron. After several years, Blunt and Skittles resumed their friendship, corresponding until her death.
After the fall of the 2nd Empire, Skittles returned to London, where she divided her time between hunting and entertaining at her Sunday afternoon tea parties, which were attended solely by men including the future Prime Minister William Gladstone. She also had a brief affair, with Bertie, the Prince of Wales. After their liaison ended, the Prince also paid her an allowance, and whenever she was ill, he sent his own doctor to attend her. Once when he thought she was dying, he sent his private secretary to collect and destroy over 300 hundred letters that he had sent her.
In 1872, Skittles moved to 15 South Street, Park Lane, which was to be her residence for the rest of her life. At a certain point in the 1880’s, she took up with Alexander Horatio Baillie. Although she called herself Mrs. Baillie for a time, they were probably never married. Her final love affair was with Gerald de Saumarez, who she had first met when he was a schoolboy of 16 and she was 40. When she died at the age of 81, she left her estate to him. In her later years, she became something of a recluse. Crippled by arthritis in her later years, she died of a cerebral hemorrhage on August 5, 1920. She’s buried in the Franciscan monastery in Sussex. Her estate was worth £2764 19s. 6d at her death.

Henry Blyth: Skittles: the last Victorian courtesan, Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1970
Katie Hickman: Courtesans, Harper Collins, 2003
Cyril Pearl: The girl with the Swansdown Seat, Frederick Muller Ltd. London, 1955

Scandalous Women Presents the other Elizabeth Mahon

Recently I was contacted by a producer from NPR about appearing on one of his shows.  As we were talking me mentioned that when he'd Googled me, another Elizabeth Mahon came up.  One who played for the All-American Girls Professional Balseball League during World War II.  How cool is that? The other Elizabeth 'Lib' Mahon was born the same year my mother was, 1919, in Greenville, South Carolina.  Like me, Elizabeth was a Scorpio, born on November 18th.

This is her baseball card.  She played outfield and second base, and batted and pitched right-handed.  Truthfully, I suck at sports, particularly baseball. I think I hit the ball once in softball one summer at day camp, and let's not talk about how I played in the outfield.  Lucky for me, when we played softball in gym, none of us could really hit the ball, so I spent most of my time in the outfield doing absolutely nothing! So I find it amazing that someone I share a name with was a professional athelete!

Lib played baseball from 1944 through 1954, first for the Minneapolis Millerettes and then for the Kenosha Comets and the South Bend Blue Sox.  The 1992 film A League of Their Own was a fictionalized account of the women who played pro-ball during the war. The film rejuvenated interest in the AAGPBL which is why we now know so much about players like Lib. According to Wikipedia, her father was a huge baseball fan, as was her older brother. However, while her brothers played sandlot ball, Lib and her sisters played basketball.  It wasn't until she was in high school that she played softball, field hockey and soccer.

She went to Winthrop College where she received a degree in phys ed in 1942.  After teaching for a year, she moved back to her hometown of Greenville, where she went to work for the post office.  At Winthrop, Lib became good friends with Viola Thompson, who shared her passion for baseball.  In 1944, both Viola and Lib were seen by a talent scout who offered them invitations to try-out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in Chicago. Players were to paid the princely sum of $60 a week which was a vast sum of money back in the '40's.  Both women decided to try out and both were lucky enough to score jobs for the inaugural season.

Lib's first team, the Minneapolis Millerettes, didn't last long in the league. Lucky for her, she was spotted by the manager of the Kenosha Comets who traded 3 players for her mid-season.  Her first year, she hit .211 with 38 runs batted in and a career-high three home runs in 107 games. She was traded to the South Bend Blue Sox where she had a hitting streak in her first year which spanned 13 games. In 1952, Lib quit playing, taking a job as a teacher at a public school in South Bend. It was a smart decision, the novelty of women playing professional baseball had worn off.  Lib earned a Master's Degree at Indiana University.  She remained a teacher and guidance counselor until her retirement in 1981.

She lived in South Bend until her death at 81.  She was posthumously inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.  The AAGPBL has a permanent display at The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  Elizabeth Mahon is enshrined there along with the rest of the women in the league.

For more information:

AAGPBL Official Site

Sabina Spielrein: The Forgotten Woman of Psychoanalysis

She overcame extreme mental illness related to childhood abuse and entered medical school while she was still in psychiatric treatment. A professional paper she wrote was arguably the basis for one of Freud's best known theories. And she was one of the earliest pioneers of child psychoanalysis but today, thanks to the film A Dangerous Method, she's known more for being the lover of Carl Jung. But there is so much more to Sabina Spielrein. She was also the first woman to write a psychoanalytic dissertation, and one of the first female psychoanalysts but her contributions were lost to history for many years.  Join me as we explore the torrid and tragic life of Sabina Spielrein, one of the forgotten pioneers of psychoanalysis on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on Scandalous Women radio.


Kerr, J. (1993) A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud and Sabina Spielrein.. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

March Books of the Month: The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames plus a Special Giveaway

Happy March everyone and do I have a treat for you! March's Books of the Month are from Goosebottom Books’ second series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames, which explores the lives of some of the most fascinating women in history, each of whom got labeled with a terrible nickname. While satisfying tweens' tastes for something a little darker, the series also appeals to its readers’ powers of analysis and sense of fairness—asking if these women’s nicknames were just. Each woman’s story is presented in rich historical and cultural context, with gorgeous original gouache paintings by Peter Malone, as well as photographs of artifacts, reproductions of archival paintings, maps, and timelines.

Just have a gander at page from Marie Antoinette:  'Madame Deficit.'  Isn't it gorgeous and a perfect way to introduce your pre-teen daughter (or son) to some of the world's most dastardly dames.  I'm not sure that I agree with including Marie Antoinette amongst Mary Tudor, Catherine de Medici, Cixi, Cleopatra and Agrippina.  Personally, I would have included her in Goosebottom book's other series, The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses. Still, I had fun reading these books and reacquainting myself with some of my favorite royal women.

Goosebottom books have generously sent me a copy of three of the books in their Dastardly Dames series, Marie Antoinette, Mary Tudor and Catherine de Medici.  It seems a shame to keep them all to myself.  Since March is Women's History Month and since Scandalous Women is about to celebrate 1,000,000 page views, I thought it only fitting that we have a little giveaway here on the blog. I can't believe I haven't given anything away since November!

One lucky winner will receive all three books, Catherine De Medici, Mary Tudor & Marie Antoinette from The Dastardly Dames series. Here are the rules for the giveaway. This giveaway is open solely to my American readers! The contest runs from today through Friday, March 23rd.

1. Leave your name and email in the comments. Email is very important so that I can contact you for your address.
2. If you are not a follower and become one, you get an extra entry
3. If you tweet about the giveaway, you get an extra entry.

Good luck!

Ettie Annie Rout (1877 - 1936) Pioneer for Safe Sex

Last week, I wrote about the pioneering efforts of Margaret Sanger to make birth control safe and available to all women in the United States during the early 20th century. Well, on the other side of the globe, another pioneering woman, Ettie Annie Rout (1877 – 1936) was preaching the necessity for safe sex during World War I. Like Sanger, Ettie was reviled and lauded in equal parts.  While H.G. Wells called her 'that unforgettable heroine', due to her 'safe sex' campaign, she became persona non grata in her own country.

Although she was born in Tasmania, Ettie’s family immigrated to New Zealand when she was 7, settling in Wellington where her father opened a plumber's business. At the top of her class in school, Ettie won a scholarship to high school, but she had to turn it down, when her father’s business failed and the family moved to Woodville to live with relatives. After taking shorthand and typing classes, she became one of the first government-appointed shorthand writers working in the Supreme Court. Her job gave her a rare insight into a wide range of social issues. By 1904 she had set up her own typing business as well as working as a journalist. Ettie soon gained a reputation as a cyclist, vegetarian, and freethinker, who wore what, was considered unorthodox dress for the time; short skirts, men's boots, and sometimes pants. Shocking! She was also a committed socialist, who campaigned for equal pay, health issues and labor issues.

During the First World War, Ettie set up the New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood in spite of government opposition. When she arrived in Egypt, she immediately became aware of the high rate of venereal disease among the soldiers. Ettie saw this as a medical problem which should be approached like any other disease. She recommended not only issuing prophylactic kits but also inspecting the brothels, and tried to persuade the New Zealand Medical Corps officers to adopt this view, with little success.

Realizing the venereal disease problem was still bad and that the NZMC had not adopted safe-sex measures, Ettie went to London to push it into doing so. She created her own safe-sex kit, which contained calomel ointment, condoms and Condy's crystals (potassium permanganate). She sold the kits to soldiers at the New Zealand Medical Club, which she set up near the New Zealand convalescent hospital in Essex. When a New Zealand newspaper published her letter where she suggested free safe-sex kits and brothel inspections, it caused an outcry. A deputation of women asked the prime minister to put an end to the medical club. But her letter had the desired effect, the defense minister told the New Zealand general in charge of troops in England to do whatever he thought necessary to lower the venereal disease rate.

By the end of 1917 the army had adopted her kit, distributing it to soldiers going on leave, but Ettie received no credit. Undaunted, she went to Paris where she became a one-woman sexual welfare service for soldiers. As troop trains arrived from the front, Ettie would stand on the platform, greeting soldiers with a kiss on the cheek, handing out cards recommending brothels that she had personally inspected. For her work, the French decorated her with the Reconnaissance Française medal, but back in New Zealand, newspapers could be fined 100 pounds, just for publishing her name. After the war, Ettie moved to England and married Fred Hornibrook in 1920, where she wrote a number of books, among them, Safe Marriage, which was banned in New Zealand, but was published in Britain and Australia. In her book Ettie encouraged women to own their own bodies and take responsibility for their own sexual health. She linked exercise and sex, arguing in books like Sex and Exercise, that exercise would enhance women's sex lives. Sort of a New Zealand Dr. Ruth!

Ettie died of a self-inflicted overdose of quinine in 1936, after her only return visit to New Zealand, after the breakup of her marriage. She was buried in the graveyard of the London Missionary Society church. In her obituary she was called Ettie Rout 'one of the best known of New Zealand women' but they did not say what she was best known for, implying that it was her typing speed.

During her lifetime, Ettie’s work polarized public opinion. While a French doctor regarded her as the 'guardian angel of the ANZACs', a bishop, speaking in the House of Lords, called her 'the most wicked woman in Britain'. Others accused her of trying to make 'vice' safe. Many of Ettie’s ideas which had seemed out there at the time, from ‘safe sex’ to pelvic floor exercises, are now mainstream, but her work and her legacy were forgotten in her own country until the late twentieth century, when the AIDS epidemic meant the same battle for safe-sex had to be fought all over again.  The AIDS clinic in Christ Church, New Zealand is now named after her.

The above clip is from a 1983 program called "Pioneer Women" which stars Karl Urban, who later went on to star in Lord of the Rings.