Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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A Woman's Name in Print.
That trite old saying that a woman's name
should appear but twice in print, once to
announce her marriage and once her death, has no
place in this century.
   In fact, it seems never to have had any place
save in an epigram.
   Since print was invented it has ever been honored
to chronicle the doings of queens; nor was the queen
dishonored (unless her doings made her so) by being
so chronicled.
   "Print" would have a lonesome time of it in this
age were it not for a woman's name.  Even in war
the Red Cross nurses figure in print side by side
with the battle heroes.
   The woman who has in any way distinguished
herself and objects to newspaper comments upon
the fact is more sensitive than sensible.
   The woman who, having chosen to become a
celebrity rather than a private individual, accepts
the interest of the public in her life as a matter of
course, is normal and practical.
   But the woman who has achieved nothing which
calls for the focusing of the public eye upon her-
self, and who yet finds her supreme happiness in
being "written up," is an abnormal and unfor-
tunate outgrowth of present social conditions.
   I have known three young women of this type--
one unmarried, the others, wives of excellent hus-
   The women were all of agreeable presence and of
fair intellect.  No one of them possessed either dis-
tinct talent or decided beauty.  No one of them had
accomplished anything which challenged public
attention; yet the three women were constantly
sending their friends in all parts of the country
marked newspapers which contained references to
their pronunced talents and extreme beauty.
   Their friends were always on the tip-toe of expec-
tancy, and anticipating some great achievement
from their prodigies.  The great achievement
remains in the realms of the expected, but the ladies
continue to acquire newspaper notices wherewith to
embellish their scrap-books and astonish their
   One of these young women once told me she had
recently visited in a town where all the newspapers
gave her "an immense amount of advertising, which
would be of great value to her in time."  That was
her expression.  But a more absurd idea never
entered a feminine mind, absurd as many feminine
minds can be.
   "Advertising" may help fill a theater with an
audience to witness a poor play, and it may sell
bread pills to the credulous; but the poor play and
the bread pills find their proper level in time, how-
ever cleverly the advertising may continue.
   No greater harm can befall a person of mere abil-
ity than to be exploited as a marvel of genius.  It
is better to be abused than to be overpraised.
   The merely agreeable young woman who allows
herself to be written up as a great beauty is prepar-
ing her future acquaintances for a shock, which will
also be a blow to her vanity, if they do not know
how to dissimulate.
   I confess to being so disappointed on my first
meeting with one of these much described genius-
beauties that I was unable to collect my scattered
senses.  I had never understood the woman's claim
to being a celebrity, but I felt much could be
excused and forgiven a beautiful woman, who is a
joy forever.
   When I found her possessed of neither talent nor
beauty, I was left puzzling over the shape of the mind
which could derive pleasure from such cheap and
meaningless notoriety.
   Fame is always the echo of deeds.  It is useless to
attempt to produce the echo before the deeds have
been achieved.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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