In celebration of the Girl Scouts' centennial, a lively salute to its maverick founder.
Born at the start of the Civil War, Juliette Gordon Low grew up in Georgia, where she struggled to reconcile being a good Southern belle with her desire to run barefoot through the fields. Deafened by an accident, "Daisy" married a dashing British aristocrat and moved to England. But she was ultimately betrayed by her husband and dissatisfied by the aimlessness of privileged life. Her search for a greater purpose ended when she met Robert Baden-Powell, war hero, adventurer, and founder of the Boy Scouts. Captivated with his program, Daisy aimed to instill the same useful skills and moral values in young girls-with an emphasis on fun. She imported the Boy Scouts' sister organization, the Girl Guides, to Savannah in 1912. Rechristened the Girl Scouts, it grew rapidly because of Juliette Low's unquenchable determination and energetic, charismatic leadership.
In Juliette Gordon Low, Cordery paints a dynamic portrait of an intriguing woman and a true pioneer whose work touched the lives of millions of girls and women around the world.
Historian Cordery (Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth) celebrates the unique life of the woman who introduced the Girl Scouts in America in this robust biography. Born in Savannah, Ga., in 1860, Low was known throughout her life as "Daisy." Headstrong, with an eccentric streak her family nicknamed her "Crazy Daisy" she had a lifelong sense of compassion for the underdog. After an unsuccessful marriage to the wealthy but philandering Englishman William "Willy" Mackay Low, she took the brave step of divorcing him in 1905. During that time, Low's chronic ear problems also led to botched treatment that resulted in partial deafness. When unattached older women were expected to either remarry or fade away, Low remained visible in both London and Savannah society. Yearning for a purpose in life, she found one in 1911 after meeting Gen. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the British Army hero who founded the Boy Scouts in England. Drawn to Baden-Powell's conviction that scouting should be fun, Low formed her own group of "Girl Guides" Girl Scouts' original name near her Scotland home, the precursor for the phenomenon she'd bring to America in 1912. With her relentless enthusiasm and dedication, she helped the fledgling organization grow from a handful of Savannah girls to more than 90,000 Girl Scouts a few years before her death in 1927. Cordery wisely fleshes out Low's nontraditional, pre-Scouting life so that the woman who emerges as the honorary troop leader of today's 2.3 million Girl Scouts is a fully realized heroine.