Friday, 10 April 2015

Review: 'Behind Every Great Man' by Marlene Wagman-Geller

Behind Every Great Man: The Forgotten Women Behind the World's Famous and Infamous by Marlene Wagman-Geller, 2015, Sourcebooks, $16.99, softbound, 356 pages. Cover: good. Category/Genre: history, reference. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and NobleBooks-A-Million.  

'First I thought of a colorful famous man,' writes Wagman-Geller, 'and if his wife dwelled in the shadows, I investigated. If her life was an intriguing one and shone light on a hitherto unknown aspect of her husband, she merited a chapter.' 

You'll find forty such women in this book: the wives and companions of Albert Einstein, Adolf Hitler, Richard Wagner, Gertrude Stein, Jim Henson, Sting, and more. 

There's considerable sadness in these pages as we read about women who endured their husband's relentless affairs, or lost their spouse and were left alone. Alice Babette Toklas, wife of Gertrude Stein, felt she was 'but a memory' of her beloved when Gertrude died. Other women felt the same way; Cosima Liszt, wife of Richard Wagner, stopped writing in her million-word diary when Wagner died. She even flung herself into his open grave at the funeral. 

A book that lets you look at the famous (and infamous) a bit differently.

If you like this one, try: Women Heroes of the American Revolution, by Susan Casey.  

You can find Marlene Wagman-Geller on GoodReads or Facebook, or you may contact her at her website here.


  1. Thank you so much fr your review of my book Behind Every Great Man. It was a labor of love extracting them from the shaadowland. If you want to contact me please do so at or through my website

    1. You're welcome. It's a fascinating book, and one which we hope will become a staple one day in school libraries.