Cover image for Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict : the kinship of women
Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict : the kinship of women
Lapsley, Hilary.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Amherst, Mass. : University of Massachusetts Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 351 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1370 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GN21.M36 L36 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This is the story of the extraordinary friendship between renowned anthropologists Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. First as mentor and protegee, later as colleagues and lovers, these two women forged a bond that endured for 25 years, defying convention as well as easy categorization.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Anyone who has ever taken an introduction to cultural anthropology course should enjoy this biography of the intimate relationship between two of the discipline's early, modern female pioneers, Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. From their meeting at Columbia University in the early 1920s until Benedict's death in 1948, Mead and Benedict remained close despite the interruption of marriage, affairs, fieldwork, and jealous colleagues. The book brings to life such prominent anthropologists as Franz Boas, Edward Sapir, and Gregory Bateson as well as poets Leonie Adams and Edna St. Vincent Millay. This account traces the career of Mead as she popularizes ethnographies with her commentary on the people and cultures of the South Pacific and that of Benedict as she fights the misogyny of academia. Author Lapsley, using poetry, dream interpretation, and written correspondence by the two women and their shared friends and colleagues, weaves an easily read and enjoyable narrative. --Julia Glynn

Choice Review

Young women who entered the field of anthropology in the 1960s knew, as did this reviewer, that women had made pathbreaking contributions to the discipline. Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead, Elsie Clews Parsons, Ruth Bunzel, Cora DuBois, and Frederica De LaGuna, to name a few, were respected and gifted leaders in the discipline. Female graduate students studied with these brilliant women, whose careers they followed and whose lives they took to be models for their own. They appreciated opportunities to see and hear from the pioneers, to attend meetings in order to refresh their enthusiasm for their work. Unmentioned was the way in which these women drew strength from their association with each other. Lapsley's book is not simply about two innovative, "self-actualized" women but also about the "kinship of women," its loyalties, its commitments, and the courage required to sustain it, which nurtures collegiality and synergistic collaboration. The professional consequences of this kinship are seldom explored in print. Mead and Benedict encouraged each other for more than 30 years. That such focus, attention, and regard should be thought peculiar, require courage, or be cloaked in secrecy is a question Lapsley implicitly raises in a beautifully documented and crafted text. All levels. L. De Danaan; Evergreen State College