The Wednesday Five: Best Longreads of the Week

In this week’s Wednesday Five, we share our Top 5 Longreads—longform journalism articles and narratives of more than 1,500 words, written by or about women. They include a Vanity Fair story on Queen Elizabeth, who at 90, still pursues a packed schedule with stamina; an Atlas Obscura profile on what happened to Barbara Williamson, ‘the most liberated woman in America;’ in The Guardian, Jessica Valenti writes about a lifetime of objectification; in The Washington Post Jessica Contrera unpacks what it’s like to grow up in the age of likes, lols and longing; and our own Deborah Harkins on screenwriter to rabbi, Susan Nanus, a woman of reinvention.




Vanity Fair: A Year in the Life of Queen Elizabeth, as Told by One of Her Private Secretaries


This month, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday, Vanity Fair featured the reigning queen on its cover and with a beautiful collection of photos by Annie Leibowitz. Equally compelling, is the account by Sir Kenneth Scott, who served the Queen for three decades, as he recalled how Britain’s longest-reigning monarch still pursues a packed schedule with stamina and wit. Of that stamina, Scott writes:

I retired from the royal household 20 years ago. (People like me are allowed to retire—the Queen would never dream of doing so.) During that time the pattern of the Queen’s life and work has continued almost unchanged. . . She often gives a reception in the early evening, or in the summer an afternoon garden party, and she sometimes has dinner with friends and family, though she usually spends part of the evening on her own, reading official papers. Each evening the private secretary sends her a box of telegrams, e-mails, and dispatches from embassies abroad; reports on the workings of Parliament; and other material.

Read more at Vanity Fair.




Atlas Obscura: What Happened to ‘The Most Liberated Woman in America’?


Dubbed “the most liberated woman in America,” Barbara Williamson now 78 years-old, co-founded a nudist community in 1969, which was heralded as “one of the most famous radical sex experiments of the 1970s.” Writing in Atlas Obscura, writer Alex Mar uses Williamson’s story as a provocative lens into the culture of sex in America. Then, she ponders:

What happens after founding a radical, nudist, group-sex commune in the culture-shifting ’70s? When your life-transformative experimental utopia comes to an end, how do you continue with the rest of your life? Do you compartmentalize it, see it as one of a series of personal projects that weren’t built to last? Or does the experience color everything that comes afterward? 

Read more at Atlas Obscura.

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