A podcast about history

That's not stuck in the past


[A note from East Bay Yesterday: Elsie Robinson was a pioneer of women in media, a powerful advocate for equal rights, and at one point the highest-paid woman writer in the nation. Not to mention, her life was an astonishing rollercoaster that included everything from a marriage to a wealthy Victorian gentleman to a job working deep within the bowels of the Sierra foothills mining for gold. So how is it possible that her name has been largely forgotten? 

That’s just one of the topics that I’ll be digging into during my interview with Julia Scheeres and Allison Gilbert, the authors of an incredibly fascinating new biography called “Listen, World! How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson became America’s Most-Read Woman.” I hope you’ll join us for what is sure to be a fun conversation that will take us from the brothels of Benicia to the bustling newsroom of downtown Oakland’s Tribune Tower. -Liam O’Donoghue]     

This event is free to attend but due to limited capacity, advance registration is required. 


Event description courtesy of Oakland Public Library

New York Times bestselling author Julia Scheeres and award-winning journalist Allison Gilbert will be in conversation with Liam O’Donoghue (East Bay Yesterday podcast), discussing their new book Listen, World!: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America’s Most-Read Woman. They’ll discuss the first biography of Elsie Robinson, the most influential newspaper columnist you’ve never heard of – unless you’re an East Bay native who remembers the Oakland Tribune’s Aunt Elsie column, which she originated right here in 1918.

Born in the Victorian era to a poor family in Benicia, California, Robinson was expected to want nothing more than a husband and children. But she dreamed of a different life—one as a professional writer. At 35, desperately poor following a bitter divorce that made her the sole caretaker of her chronically ill son, she became the lone female mucker in a California gold mine, and spent her evenings typing up short stories and essays as she tried to break into the publishing industry. Her hard work paid off. In 1924,media powerhouse William Randolph Hearst hired Robinson and made her the highest-paid woman writer in his company. For more than 30 years, Robinson shared her blistering and unapologetic opinions in support of women’s rights and immigrants; deriding capital punishment, racism, and anti-Semitism; and urging women to realize bigger, more fulfilling lives. She made history by being one of the first columnists in the country to also draw her own accompanying editorial cartoons

Julia Scheeres is the New York Times–bestselling author of the memoir Jesus Land and A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown. She lives in Northern California. 

Allison Gilbert is an award-winning journalist and author of numerous books including Passed and Present and Parentless Parents. She lives outside New York City.

Liam O’Donoghue is the host and producer of podcast East Bay Yesterday and co-creator of the Long Lost Oakland map.

This event is free to attend but due to limited capacity, advance registration is required. 


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