A groundbreaking biography of the world's first female sports superstar, the pioneering and uncompromising Lottie Dod
Eighty-five years before Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs fought the 'battle of the sexes, ' a Victorian teenager showed what women could do . . . Abramsky] celebrates her as a brave and talented and determined original. In sports, the battle of the sexes is far from over, but Dod won more than a few break points simply by living her own life to the fullest.
Abramsky's reclamation of Dod's] story is a welcome addition that reminds us that women have long struggled for an equitable place in sports and that women athletes do have predecessors to look toward for encouragement in their contemporary fights for pay equity, TV coverage and respect.
Before Serena Williams and Megan Rapinoe, there was Lottie Dod...Abramsky presents a well-researched account of a woman whose rare losses were almost more newsworthy than her consistent victories.
--Christian Science Monitor
An adroitly written biography...Abramsky offers a fascinating portrait of the life of this forgotten sports heroine in fluid prose. Little Wonder is a worthy addition to the sports literature.
--New York Journal of Books
Abramsky...masterfully captures the life of this little-known sportswoman, a versatile female athlete comparable to Babe Didrikson Zaharias. In an eloquently written narrative, spiced with vivid descriptions of the Victorian era and the early twentieth century, he shines a light on Dod...This fine biography makes a significant contribution to sports history and women's studies and should go a long way to bringing Dod's inspirational story to a new audience.
--Booklist, Starred review
Abramsky combines descriptive writing with research that pulls back the curtain to reveal an athlete whose feats remain stunning 60 years after her death and more than a century after her glory days.
--New Books in History (podcast)
Lottie Dod was a truly extraordinary sports figure who blazed trails of glory in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Dod won Wimbledon five times, and did so for the first time in 1887, at the ludicrously young age of fifteen. After she grew bored with competitive tennis, she moved on to and excelled in myriad other sports: she became a leading ice skater and tobogganist, a mountaineer, an endurance bicyclist, a hockey player, a British ladies' golf champion, and an Olympic silver medalist in archery.
In her time, Dod had a huge following, but her years of distinction occurred just before the rise of broadcast media. By the outset of World War I, she was largely a forgotten figure; she died alone and without fanfare in 1960.
Little Wonder brings this remarkable woman's story to life, contextualizing it against a backdrop of rapid social change and tectonic shifts in the status of women in society. Dod was born into a world in which even upper-class women such as herself could not vote, were restricted in owning property, and were assumed to be fragile and delicate.
Women of Lottie Dod's class were expected not to work and to definitely get married. Dod never married and never had children, instead putting heart and soul into training to be the best athlete she could possibly be. Paving the way for the likes of Billie Jean King, Serena Williams, and other top female athletes of today, Dod accepted no limits, no glass ceilings, and always refused to compromise.
About the Author
SASHA ABRAMSKY is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared over the past twenty-five years in major newspapers and magazines in the United States and United Kingdom. These include the Nation, the Atlantic, the New Yorker online, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Independent, the Observer, and the New Statesman. He has written widely about poverty and inequality; hunger; mass incarceration; the treatment of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers; along with book reviews, cultural essays, and travel writing. Little Wonder is Abramsky's ninth book. He teaches writing part-time at the University of California, Davis, and lives in Sacramento with his wife and two children.