What We’re Reading in December!


We’re excited to share that our December Book Club selection is Janice P. Nimura’s new book The Doctors Blackwell, forthcoming from W. W. Norton & Company on January 19, but available to Rumpus Book Club members in just a few weeks!

Elizabeth Blackwell believed from an early age that she was destined for a mission beyond the scope of “ordinary” womanhood. Though the world at first recoiled at the notion of a woman studying medicine, her intelligence and intensity ultimately won her the acceptance of the male medical establishment. In 1849, she became the first woman in America to receive an MD. She was soon joined in her iconic achievement by her younger sister, Emily, who was actually the more brilliant physician.

Exploring the sisters’ allies, enemies, and enduring partnership, Janice P. Nimura presents a story of trial and triumph. Together, the Blackwells founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, the first hospital staffed entirely by women. Both sisters were tenacious and visionary, but their convictions did not always align with the emergence of women’s rights―or with each other. From Bristol, Paris, and Edinburgh to the rising cities of antebellum America, this richly researched new biography celebrates two complicated pioneers who exploded the limits of possibility for women in medicine. As Elizabeth herself predicted, “a hundred years hence, women will not be what they are now.”

Janice P. Nimura has gifted us with more than a splendid history of the Blackwell sisters. Gripping, vividly written, and moving, it is also a surprisingly timely history of the misogynist, limited, still evolving Anglo-American medical profession. – Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Volumes 1–3

Subscribe to the Rumpus Book Club by November 15 to join us in reading The Doctors Blackwell, culminating in an exclusive online discussion with author Janice P. Nimura about the book!

Learn more about The Rumpus Book Club here. More from this author →