Site icon Global Women's History

Miriam Leslie

On June 5, 1836 Miriam Leslie American publisher was born.

Miriam Florence Squier Leslie was an American publisher and author. She was the wife of Frank Leslie and the heir to his publishing business, which she developed into a paying concern from a state of precarious indebtedness. After her husband’s death, she changed her own name to his, Frank Leslie. (Wikipedia)

Personal remarks about Miriam Leslie by Betsy Prioleau, author of “Diamonds and Deadlines: A Tale of Greed, Deceit, and a Female Tycoon in the Gilded Age”. For more information about the author, check out her personal website To buy “Diamonds and Deadlines: A Tale of Greed, Deceit, and a Female Tycoon in the Gilded Age” on Amazon.

Miriam Leslie, the Gilded Age style icon and business tycoon, isn’t on any lists of female exemplars today, but she should be. Long forgotten, she was a titanic vanguard figure, leagues ahead of her time. Her command of America’s largest publishing company for twenty years on hostile male turf is a lesson for now. Not to mention her romantic life—four husbands, three divorces, and sexual agency in spades. These are a few ways she speaks to twenty-first-century women and our continued challenges in the workplace and love.

In business, she counseled an oblique approach to the top. Conceal “the iron hand in the velvet glove,” she said, disarm with charm and combine the fox and the lion. And don’t play small; be “bold,” “move without precedent,” and “essay new paths.”

Women should also develop fireproof confidence. Miriam incarnated “life-saving grandiosity” and identified with Napoleon. Equally important was hard work, expertise, ambition, and the starch to “descend to the arena and rub elbows with men.”

Miriam faced her own “me-too” moments as a celebrated beauty. But she deflected harassment by not practicing “allurements at work” and forgetting “sex during office hours. At the same time, she was a master of image management and created a glamorous, diva persona she publicized through the press she owned. She’d be a mega-influencer of our time—a media star.

As for romance, Miriam Leslie had been an accomplished courtesan in her youth and knew the ropes—how to recoup female choice, gain and keep the lovers she wanted, and enjoy sexual fulfillment and empowerment. Men fought duels over her, enshrined her in love poems, and did her bidding. Her tip: “Be wise! Recognize your own strength and your own power and make the most of it; hold yourself back and your lover will pursue; remain queen of your position and he will make you queen of his.” Miriam Leslie predicted the “woman of the future” would be entitled as never before in every sphere—life, love, and work. She’d have liked nothing better than to be a model for full female empowerment in 2022 and help push the frontier. – Betsy Prioleau

Related Articles:

“Diamonds and Deadlines: A Tale of Greed, Deceit, and a Female Tycoon in the Gilded Age” on Amazon
Exit mobile version