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"Women Suffer Too"
("Marty") M., New York City and Connecticut.
222 in 2nd and 3rd editions, p. 200 in the 4th edition.)
great opportunities, alcohol nearly ended her life. Early
member, she spread the word among women in our pioneer
date of sobriety is uncertain, but she attended her first
A.A. meeting at Bill W.'s home in Brooklyn on April 11,
1939, and was an enthusiastic member of A.A. from that day
until her death.
was not the first woman in A.A. The "Lady known as 'Lil',"
in Akron, who probably never got sober, and Florence R.
("A Feminine Victory" in 1st edition) preceded her. A recent
biography of Marty reveals that there was still another
woman ahead of Marty, Mary C. Mary visited Marty when she
was still at Blythewood Sanitarium in 1939. Mary would have
been the A.A. woman with the longest sobriety had she not
slipped in 1944. Thereafter she stayed sober until her death
in the 1990s.
was the first woman to enter A.A. and gain long-term sobriety.
But she had several slips, and thus other women were able
at one time to claim longer uninterrupted sobriety.
grew up in Chicago, in a wealthy family. She had every advantage,
the best boarding schools and a finishing school in Europe.
popular debutante, she made her debut in 1927, after which
she eloped with John B. of New Orleans. Marty said of him:
"He was one of the most attractive men I've met, interesting,
traveled, with a keen mind. His family was prominent socially
and he was the town's worst drunk." They were both high
on alcohol when they eloped. Later a church service was
held in New Orleans. Marty, whose alcoholism was not far
progressed at the time, could not put up with John's drinking
behavior and they were divorced in 1928. She resumed her
maiden name and sometime thereafter started to identify
herself as "Mrs. Marty M." She never remarried.
divorce coincided with her father's bankruptcy and Marty
went to work. For the next ten years she did whatever she
wanted to do. For greater freedom and excitement she went
abroad to live. She ran a successful business. Headstrong
and willful she rushed from pleasure to pleasure. But her
alcoholism got out of hand and soon she was in real trouble
and attempted suicide twice. She came home to America, broke
and desperate. Things got even worse.
entered Bellevue Hospital's neurology ward under the care
of Robert Foster Kennedy, M.D. Eventually she entered Blythewood
Sanitarium, as a charity patient, under the care of Dr.
Harry Tiebout, who gave her the manuscript of the Big Book
to read and arranged for her to go to her first meeting.
said "I went trembling into a house in Brooklyn filled with
strangers and I found I had come home at last, to my own
kind. There is another meaning for the Hebrew word that
in the King James version of the Bible is translated 'salvation.'
It is: 'to come home.' I had found my salvation. I wasn't
alone any more."
a July 1968 Grapevine update of her story, Marty said the
Twelve Steps were still very important to her. They gave
her more than sobriety. They gave her a glimpse at something
she had never known -- peace of mind, a sense of being comfortable
with herself and with the world in which she lived, and
a lot of other things which could be summed up as a sense
of growth, both emotional and spiritual.
was a visionary and a pioneer who took on an unpopular cause
during an era when women were supposed to remain silent.
With the encouragement of Bill W., Marty founded the National
Council on Alcoholism, through which she educated the general
public about alcoholism and helped shape the modern alcoholism
wrote two authoritative books on alcoholism, ("Marty Mann's
Primer on Alcoholism," (1950), which was rewritten and published
as "Marty Mann's New Primer on Alcoholism," in (1958), and
"Marty Mann Answers Your Questions About Drinking and Alcoholism"
influenced alcoholism legislation at the State and national
levels. She is considered to be "the mother of the Hughes
Act," the Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention,
Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act of 1970, which greatly
enhanced the federal government's role in alcoholism treatment
B., in "My Search for Bill W.," described Marty as one of
Bill W.'s closest friends and allies. "A refined, attractive
woman, she impressed me as being the kind of person who
can handle great responsibilities with confidence and ease.
While some men may have felt threatened by such a strong
woman, Bill supported her work and went out of his way to
protect the work she was doing during a period of heavy
anti-gay bias, Marty never revealed her lesbianism except
to Bill (her sponsor) and other close friends. Her long-time
lesbian partner was Priscilla P., once a glamorous art director
at Vogue Magazine, the fifth woman Marty brought into A.A.
In her last years Marty was deeply troubled by Priscilla's
made her last public appearance at the A.A. International
Convention in New Orleans in July of 1980. She arrived in
a wheelchair, but after she was introduced she rose and
walked to the podium to thunderous applause and a prolonged
weeks after her return to her home in Easton, Connecticut,
her housekeeper found her unconscious at the kitchen table.
She had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage the night
before. Priscilla had slept through it all. She was rushed
to St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, CN, where
she died later that night, July 22, 1980, at the age of
New York Times ran a major obituary, and her death was widely
reported around the nation. A long tribute to her was read
into the Congressional Record.
Priscilla died on November 9, 1982, Marty's brother tried
to make arrangements for her to be buried next to Marty
in Chicago, but Rosehill Cemetery ruled that the family
plot was reserved for members of the family only. Priscilla
was cremated and her remains spread on the waters off the
coast on the shore of Connecticut.
source of much of the information on Marty's early years
and marriage is "Mrs. Marty Mann, The First Lady of Alcoholics
Anonymous," by Sally and David Brown.)