Anne Morrow Lindbergh
by C.K. Thomas
I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Reeve Lindbergh, the youngest daughter of Anne and Charles Lindbergh’s six children. Sadly, the 2001 signed and dedicated first edition copy of her book, No More Words, about the last few months of her mother’s life, got away from me during a move.
I became fascinated with Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s life story after reading her book, Gift From the Sea. Women who have children and lead busy lives of their own can’t help but relate to the rich prose of this small volume. I’ve given many copies as gifts to friends over the years.
This tiny book begins with a chapter called “The Beach,” and each subsequent chapter is named for a particular shell the author finds while beachcombing during a rare time away from the demands of her growing family. Each shell comes to represent a stage in a woman’s journey as wife and mother. For instance, the oyster shell in the mind of the author represents the middle years of a marriage when the demands of family life and making a home expands.
In the 20th anniversary edition of this book, originally published in 1955, the author marvels at how it continued to be relevant and read by so many. This introspective work by the wife of a very famous personality inspired me to dig further into the life of this extraordinary woman. Her accomplishments were many and in my opinion largely overshadowed by her husband’s celebrity.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote 13 books! Many of these were letters and diaries from the years 1922 to 1944 which she complied between the ages of 65 and 74. Gift From the Sea, Dearly Beloved, and Earth Shine were published when she was between the ages of 50 and 63. Anne and Charles Lindbergh surveyed air routes encompassing 40,000 miles over five continents in the early 1930s, with Anne serving as Charles’ copilot and radio operator.
A very private person, Anne wasn’t often interviewed, but when asked why she became a writer, she replied: “In an attempt to capture a phase in the history of travel that is perhaps unrepeatable and, as such, is worth being recorded. … for magic, unless it is written down, escapes one. … I must write down my story before it is too late.”
Her definition of a book’s preface: “There comes a moment when the things one has written, even a traveler’s memories, stand up and demand a justification.” Quotes are reprinted from her book, North to the Orient, Harcourt Brace, 1935.
So many fascinating stories about women have been overlooked in the recording of our history. One of my hopes when studying women’s history has been to bring some of these little-known stories to light. I hope you’ll be inspired to read more about the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and open the cover of one of her many books about her adventures when flying in the second seat of the cockpit with Charles Lindbergh. I think you would find North to the Orient a fascinating read!
C.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.