Katharine Houghton Hepburn helped American women secure the vote and reproductive freedom. Her daughter was a four-time Oscar winner. Chances are, you know about the actress, but not the activist.

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English author H.G. Wells envisioned a future of alien invasion and time travel. He dabbled in dystopian nightmares and conjured up mad scientists and invisible men. And, to the disgust of two of his feminist lovers, he imagined a utopia where “women are to be as free as men.”

From Art Nouveau theatrical poster to a Japanese art gallery, a unique serpent bracelet designed by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha for French actress Sarah Bernhardt has coiled its way through more than a century of history – disappearing, reappearing, and intertwining itself with an eclectic group of extraordinary people.

In an age when wealthy Americans visited Europe either to sell off their daughters in marriage to titled men or to buy up European culture and historical heritage, Edith Wharton and Natalie Clifford Barney went there in search of gender and intellectual equality. They found it in France.