The Queen of the Platform

“Susan Higginbotham has a gift for telling the tales of strong women who stepped out from the shadows into which society’s strictures would have cast them in order to make their indelible marks on history. . . . Weaving together sumptuous prose and groundbreaking research, Higginbotham delivers a read that is both empowering and important.”

—Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Margaret Fuller

“Author Susan Higginbotham has us on the edge of our seats as we read about [Ernestine]’s fight against slavery and discrimination. . . . A superb read.”

—Rebecca De Figueiredo, Readers’ Favorite

“Susan Higginbotham seamlessly blends fiction with historical facts, providing readers with a profound perspective on the courage and determination of women to fight for change in a resistant society. . . . It is an interesting mix of exploring relationships, identity search, and adaptation to social changes.”

The Historical Fiction Company

“Susan Higginbothan’s inspiring book is a shining example of the strength and resilience of the human spirit. The protagonist’s journey will move readers through her struggles, inspire them with her courage, and uplift them with her triumphs. Higginbotham’s masterful storytelling will leave you spellbound and deeply touched. This is a book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”

Midwest Book Review

“This novel is so great that no words can do it justice. . . . Not only is [Ernestine’s] story masterfully retold, but it seems that Higginbotham is determined to arouse every conceivable emotion from her readers, and such writing made this book next to impossible to put down.”

—Mary Ann Yarde, Yarde’s Book Reviews

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An excerpt from The Queen of the Platform:

Although I had allowed for ample time to get to the opening day of court—or so I thought—I had not reckoned on a particularly brutal snowstorm, which stranded us just a few miles outside of Kalisz. It cleared, however, the afternoon before court was to begin, and I had every hope of getting to the city in time to find a room for the night.

Then, as we were gliding along in the dusk, I heard a peculiar sound. Before I could form a word, the sleigh tilted crazily to one side, then to another, before somehow righting itself and coming to a dead stop.

My driver muttered a few Yiddish words with which I was not familiar, despite it being my first language, and then, having ascertained that I was unhurt, clambered out of the sleigh and began an inspection. It soon emerged that we were missing a few nails, which had caused some difficulty with the runner that could not simply be fixed with the application of a hammer. “We’ll have to wait until the morning, miss. I’ll need help.”

“Please! Can’t you get help now? I have to be at Kalisz at ten o’clock. Everything depends upon it.”


“I’ll pay you for an extra day. An extra two days! Please! If I don’t get there by ten, this entire journey will have been for nothing. I’ll be penniless, or married. Or maybe both.”

I had never acquainted my driver with the purpose of my journey—being from the countryside outside of Piotrków, he had not been privy to the gossip that had begun to swirl after Mr. Levinsky filed his lawsuit—but the money I pulled from my reticule, and perhaps the prospect of spending the evening listening to the wailings of a seventeen-year-old girl, convinced him to go in search of help. As I was ill-clad for riding the horse he unhitched and had never ridden one to begin with, he left me to wait in the sleigh, but first he handed me a pistol. “Robbers?” I asked, trying to keep the quaver out of my voice.


And sure enough, soon I heard their howling. I have been in desolate places since then, but never have I felt so cold, so forlorn, and—yes—so terrified. I huddled under my furs and asked myself whether this was truly worth all of the trouble I was taking. Was there anything so terrible about being Mrs. Levinsky? I must confess that if my would-be husband had come upon me in his own sleigh, and had flashed his charming smile and offered me the seat next to his, I probably would not have refused, and might well have agreed to marry him out of sheer gratitude.

Who was Ernestine Rose?

Born to a Jewish family in Poland, Ernestine Rose as a teenager rejected both religion and the marriage her father, a rabbi, arranged for her. She spent time in Berlin, Paris, and London before emigrating with her husband, William Ella Rose, to the United States in 1836. Within just a few months of her arrival in New York City, she began speaking in public and campaigning for women’s property rights. Although little known today, in the nineteenth century she was highly regarded both as a speaker and as an advocate for progressive causes. Susan B. Anthony, who often shared the platform with her, kept a portrait of Ernestine in her office and named her as one of the three women (the other two being Mary Wollstonecraft and Frances Wright) who should lead the “Honor Roll” of early advocates for women’s rights.

The Early Life and Family of Ernestine Rose: New Findings and an Old Secret

In researching this novel, I learned some surprising things about Ernestine, her family, and her husband’s family, which you can find in this peer-reviewed article I published detailing my findings–including information that has never been published before. (You may want to wait until after you’ve read my novel, though.)

Ernestine Louise Rose (courtesy of Library of Congress)

Susan B. Anthony in her study, with Ernestine Rose’s portrait on the top right
(courtesy of Library of Congress)

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