Women Who Shaped History Critical Context - Essay

Henrietta Henkle

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Buckmaster wrote prolifically about the Civil War period for young adult readers during her lifetime. She was a master of the fictionized form of history, which accounts for the fact that these biographies have the shape and intrigue of story. Buckmaster herself was committed to the same ideals as the women about whom she wrote. She believed that ideas shape events, and she presents these biographies from that perspective.

Women Who Shaped History was published just prior to the blossoming of the second phase of the women’s movement of the twentieth century, and Buckmaster successfully bases her biography on the ideals that bridged the first and second wave of feminist activity in the United States. Her perspective is not geared to a narrow interpretation of the purpose for social activism. Like the heroes of the book, Buckmaster frames her work with the principle of social justice; she examines the individual in the fabric of society. Because of this introduction, young adults may read full-length biographies of these six women with a greater appreciation.

The flawless parallel construction of these individual biographies allows young adults to make connections between the various characteristics of each person, the issues that they addressed, and the times in which they lived. The book provides an introduction to the contextual influences on people’s lives and how acting on individual values can make a difference in history.