Anne Morrow Lindbergh (June 22, 1906 - February 7, 2001) was the wife of the celebrated pilot Charles Lindbergh who completed the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. In 1930, she became the first female to obtain a glider pilot’s license.
Living in the shadow of both fame and tragedy, Lindbergh found her own place in the world as a writer. She would gain recognition as an author through writing about her extensive travels with her husband in support of the newly burgeoning aviation industry. Her courage and support, during a time when air travel was relatively new and female pilots were nearly unheard of, brought flying to a new level of acceptance in the view of the American public.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh will be remembered as one of America’s preeminent diarists and early conservationists. Her book Gifts from the Sea, a lyrical meditation upon life and relationships, has been heralded as a forerunner to Rachel Carson’s environmental books.
Anne Spencer Morrow was born in Englewood, New Jersey, to Dwight Whitney Morrow and Elizabeth Cutter Morrow. She was the second born of the Morrows' four children; the first, Elisabeth, was born in 1904, followed two years later by Anne, followed by Dwight, Jr. in 1908, and Constance in 1913.
Anne was raised in a household that set high standards for both academic achievement and public service. Her mother's routine for her children included reading to them at five o'clock every evening, and when they outgrew that practice, the young Morrows would use that hour to read by themselves, or write poetry and diaries. In later years, Anne would see many of her diaries published to critical acclaim as a result of that discipline.
Her father, initially a lawyer, went on to become a partner at J.P. Morgan Bank. Seeking increased personal fulfillment through a life of public service, he became a United States Ambassador to Mexico. Following his tenure as Ambassador, he served as a Senator from New Jersey. Elizabeth Cutter Morrow was active in the advancement of women's education, serving on the board of trustees and briefly as acting president of her alma mater, Smith College.
After graduating from The Chapin School in New York City in 1924, Anne attended Smith College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in May 1928. She received the Elizabeth Montagu Prize for her essay on women of the eighteenth century and the Mary Augusta Jordan Literary Prize for her fictional piece, "Lida Was Beautiful."
It was Dwight Morrow's position as Charles Lindbergh's financial adviser at J. P. Morgan & Co. that would prompt the aviator's invitation to Mexico shortly before Morrow took the assignment to become Ambassador. The trip was intended as a means of promoting good relations between Mexico and the United States, but it also served as a respite for visiting family members and for Charles Lindbergh himself. His trans-Atlantic flight had catapulted him into the public eye and his overnight fame began to deprive him of any modicum of privacy.
Anne was Charles Lindbergh's first romantic interest, and they became engaged after only four dates. Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh were married at the home of her parents in Englewood on May 27, 1929. Charles Lindbergh taught his wife how to fly and thus opened the field of piloting to all women. That year, she piloted her first solo flight. She also learned Morse code and radio communications so that she could serve as his co-pilot on their various aeronautic explorations.
Together, Anne and Charles explored and charted air routes between continents during the 1930s. The Lindberghs were the first to fly from Africa to South America, and explored polar air routes from Greenland to Asia and Europe. Their travels, and the resulting reports of them, went far to promote the safety and feasibility of flying to a skeptical public.
Anne Lindbergh's book North to the Orient, a bestseller in 1935, was based on her diaries and reflections from those travels. The adventurous fliers, christened by the press as "the first couple of the sky," had succeeded in totally capturing the imagination of the public.
The Lindberghs' first born, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, was kidnapped from their new home outside Hopewell, New Jersey on March 1, 1932. After a massive investigation, his body was discovered the following May 12, some four miles from the Lindberghs' home, at the summit of a hill on the Hopewell-Mt. Rose Highway.
The frenzied level of press attention paid to the Lindberghs, particularly during the trial, which resulted in the conviction and execution of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, prompted Charles and Anne to move to England, to a house owned by Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. Later they moved to the small island of Iliec, off the coast of France. Closeness to nature often brought peace and comfort to the beleaguered couple who sought to be away from public scrutiny as much as possible. Charles and Anne Lindbergh had five more children: Sons Jon, Land and Scott, and daughters Anne and Reeve.
Europe provided the setting for the Lindberghs' fall from grace in the eyes of many critics; he for his isolationist views, and she for thoroughly supporting him. In the late 1930s, the U.S. Air Attaché in Berlin invited Charles Lindbergh to inspect the rising power of Nazi Germany's Air Force. Impressed by German technology and military strength at a time when much of Europe was struggling still to recover from World War I, Lindbergh strongly opposed U.S. entry into the impending European conflict. Anne contributed an influential book, The Wave of the Future, which argued that something resembling fascism was the unfortunate "wave of the future," echoing authors such as Lawrence Dennis and later James Burnham. Her book, seen as a concession to Nazism, was highly unpopular with many Americans, who were just beginning to realize the extent of Nazi Germany's atrocities. In Berg's biography, Anne was quoted as saying later, in an attempt to clarify her husband's controversial views, "We were both very blind, especially in the beginning, to the worst evils of the Nazi system" (Berg, 469).
The antiwar America First Committee quickly adopted Charles Lindbergh as their leader, but after the attack on Pearl Harbor and Germany's declaration of war, the committee disbanded. Charles Lindbergh, initially in opposition to the war, sought a way to serve his country through civilian volunteerism.
During the postwar era, Anne and her husband wrote books, re-establishing the positive reputation they had lost during the war years. The most famous of Anne's literary works during that period was A Gift from the Sea, her meditation on the meaning of a woman's life, which was published in 1955. Published by Pantheon Books, it became a phenomenon and was ranked number one on the bestseller list for over a year. In 2005, a Fiftieth Year Anniversary Edition was re-released with a foreward by her daughter, writer Reeve Lindbergh.
Beginning in the early 1970s Anne edited and published, to critical and popular acclaim, five volumes of her diaries from the period between 1922 and 1944. They included, Bring Me a Unicorn: Diaries and Letters: 1922-1928 and Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead, which reveals the difficult tumult of her eldest child's kidnapping and murder. The War Within and Without, the final book of this period was her attempt to defend her husband's complex—and controversial—views during World War II.
Two writers who deeply influenced the works of Anne Morrow Lindbergh were Rainer Maria Rilke, German poet and author, and French writer Antoine de Saint Exupery, who was also a pilot. Her friendship with the latter, was tragically cut short during World War II when Saint Exupery, on a mission for the Allied Forces, was lost, along with his plane, never seen again.
Charles and Anne maintained homes in Connecticut, Switzerland, and Maui, Hawaii, where Charles died in 1974. Subsequently, Anne settled in her Connecticut home where she could be near visiting children and grandchildren. Revelations, after her death, that Charles maintained a mistress in Germany, and indeed, supported his illegitimate children there, explain a reticent quality about Anne's later life.
A series of strokes in the early 1990s, left her confused and disabled and while visiting her daughter Reeve's family in 1999, she came down with pneumonia. At this juncture, she went to live near her daughter in a small home built on their farm in Passumpsic, Vermont. It was there that Anne died in 2001, at the age of 94. Reeve Lindbergh's book, No More Words, tells the story of her mother's last years.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh received numerous awards and honors, in recognition of her contributions to both literature and aviation. The U.S. Flag Association honored her with its Cross of Honor in 1933, for having taken part in surveying transatlantic air routes. The following year, she was awarded the Hubbard Medal—the first bestowed upon a woman—by the National Geographic Society in acknowledgment of having completed 40,000 miles of exploratory flying with Charles, a feat that took them to five continents. Later, in 1993, Women in Aerospace presented her with an Aerospace Explorer Award, in recognition of her achievements in and contributions to the aerospace field.
In addition to being the recipient of honorary Masters and Doctor of Letters degrees from her alma mater, Smith College (1935-1970), Anne also received honorary degrees from Amherst College (1939), the University of Rochester (1939), Middlebury College (1976), and Gustavus Adolphus College (1985). She was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the National Women's Hall of Fame, and the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey. War Within and Without, the last installment of her published diaries, received the Christopher Award.
All links retrieved November 19, 2016.
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