I picked this up for a dollar at our city’s big library sale, having never heard of it or the author, but intrigued by the cover. Nothing Daunted turned out to be quite the interesting read!
Based on letters written to her grandmother, Dorothy Woodruff, and Dorothy’s best friend, Rosamond “Ros” Underwood, Wickenden pieced together the extraordinary lives of these two women, focusing on the year they spent teaching in the Rockies in 1916. Two society ladies, raised in great wealth and privilege, decided to take some time (this, after a year spent traveling Europe) to expand their horizons — quite the scandal in a time when they would have been much more expected to settle down and get married as soon as possible. Inspired greatly by Hull House, a settlement house founded by Jane Addams (one of my favorite subjects in history class), Dorothy and Ros felt determined to make a difference. And they did — decades later, Wickenden went to visit the small community where the ladies taught, and found them well-remembered.
Wickenden obviously did her research for Nothing Daunted, which she tells like a narrative, with bits of journal entries and letters tossed in. She does a wonderful job of recreating the incredible circumstances that these miners and farmers lived in at the time — and how much education meant to them and their children. There’s a bit of fluff, a bit of romance, but overall she focuses on education — both of the schoolchildren and their teachers.