There are a lot of books about Benjamin Franklin. They tell us about his youth and accomplishments in business, politics, and diplomacy. They tell us about his serious interest in electricity and science, and about his philanthropic work. But only a handful of these books tell us about Benjamin Franklin as a man. What did Benjamin Franklin think about and experience when it came to his private, lived life?
Nancy Rubin Stuart, an award-winning historian and journalist and author of Poor Richard’s Women: Deborah Read Franklin and the Other Women Behind the Founding Father, joins us to investigate the private life of Benjamin Franklin by using the women in his life as a window to his experiences as a husband, father, and friend.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Nancy Rubin Stuart is the Executive Director of the Cape Cod Writers Center. She’s an award-winning historian who has written numerous books and she’s a journalist who specializes in the histories of women, biography, and social history. She joins us to investigate the private life of Benjamin Franklin with details from her latest book, Poor Richard’s Women: Deborah Read Franklin and the Other Women Behind the Founding Father.
During our investigation, Nancy reveals why we should explore the life of Benjamin Franklin through the women in his life; Deborah Read Franklin and her marriage to Benjamin Franklin; And, details about the marriage of Benjamin and Deborah Franklin, including the many years they spent apart from each other between 1757 and 1775.
What You’ll Discover
- Why explore the life of Benjamin Franklin through the women in his life
- How historians access the lives of women
- Early American women’s literacy
- Benjamin Franklin’s relationship with and perception of women
- Deborah Read Franklin
- Comparing the childhoods of Benjamin and Deborah Franklin
- Courtship of Deborah Read and Benjamin Franklin
- Deborah Franklin’s first marriage
- Common law marriages
- Deborah’s relationship with William Franklin
- The children of Benjamin & Deborah Franklin
- Why Deborah did not go to London with Benjamin
- Margaret Stevenson, Franklin’s London Landlady
- Franklin’s relationship with Margaret & Polly Stevenson
- The death of Deborah Read Franklin
- Other women in Ben Franklin’s life
- Catharine Ray
- Madame Brillon
- Madame Helvétius
- How we can better understand Franklin through the women in his life
Links to People, Places, and Publications
Support Ben Franklin's World
- Episode 022: Vivian Bruce Conger, Deborah Read Franklin & Sally Franklin Bache
- Episode 031: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin
- Episode 149: George Goodwin, Benjamin Franklin in London
- Episode 175: Daniel Mark Epstein, The Revolution in Ben Franklin’s House
- Episode 193: Partisans: The Friendship and Rivalry of John Adams & Thomas Jefferson
- Episode 207: Young Benjamin Franklin
- Episode 320: Benjamin Franklin’s London House
In your opinion, what might have happened if Deborah Read Franklin had accompanied Benjamin to England? If Benjamin had never met and formed a relationship with Margaret Stevenson, how might his life and his marriage to Deborah have been different?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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