Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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As March finishes off Women’s History Month, I wanted to share about Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  She is best known as the wife of famed aviator, Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  She was also the author of the best selling book, Gift From The Sea.  Excerpts of the book can be found here.

However, Anne wrote many other books and over the last ten years, I’ve read a number of them including her diaries Locked Rooms Open DoorsHour of Gold, Hour of Lead (which includes the death of her first child who had been kidnapped); and Bring Me A Unicorn.  I also read her travel accounts in North to the Orient and borrowed several biographies from the library in an effort to get to know her better.

And you know what?  She wasn’t just Charles Lindbergh’s wife.  She had many accomplishments in her own right.  She was a college educated woman, a licensed pilot, and winner of numerous awards in recognition of her pioneer efforts in air travel, including surveying transatlantic air routes.  Anne also won awards for her books.  To Charles, Anne was his co-pilot, navigator and communications operator.

Charles was a domineering man.  Things had to be done his way.  When the baby was kidnapped, he forbade Anne from crying.  He took over the investigation and kept her in the dark.  He was insensitive to her conflicts over leaving the children to travel with him.  When she tried to quit flying with him, due to the discomforts of the open cockpit and bone-chilling cold, he talked her into staying on because he didn’t trust anyone else.

Yet, he gave her adventure.  She saw the world not as a pampered woman, but as a woman who earned her way.  He trusted her judgment and relied heavily on her opinions and observations.  She saw things that others didn’t even know existed.  In North to the Orient, she wrote about villages in far northern Canada who didn’t know planes existed.  Natives came out to meet her and Charles, some having never seen a white woman before.

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh were mobbed by the press and fans alike.  The paparazzi were on a par with that of Princess Diana.  Everything they did and said was scrutinized and published in the newspapers.  There was nowhere they could go for privacy, leading them to finally move to Europe.

Although her book, Gift From the Sea, appears to be soft and genteel, it is in fact a reminder to women to take care of themselves.  There is strength in the book, thoughts on women being themselves and not losing their lives in children and husbands, to protect their talents and creativity.  This was in 1955, before the feminist movement, in a time when women were expected to take second place to their spouses and families.

To me, I was amazed at her strength of character.  Her life was extraordinary.  She was companion to a difficult man, who also encouraged her to get a pilot’s license, to fly on her own, and to pursue a literary career.  Would she have done these things without Charles?  I think she would have been a woman of accomplishment, although not likely with these things.  But she took his passions and pursuits and made them hers as well.  To my mind, Charles Lindbergh only achieved what he did because Anne Morrow Lindbergh was an equal and worthy partner in his life.

Here’s a bit of trivia to finish off my post.  During the Iraq War, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., was commander in charge of all the military forces fighting in Operation Desert Storm.  His father, Major General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Sr., was with the New Jersey State Police when the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped.  Herbert Schwarkopf did significant work on the case, using early techniques of reconstructing the crime and criminal profiling.

[Other posts for Women’s History Month include Jane Addams and my maternal grandmother.]