Dorothy H. Wickenden ’76 will be at the Auburn Public Theater in September, to talk about her new book, “Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West.” Executive Editor of the New Yorker, Wickenden is the granddaughter of Dorothy Woodruff, one of the characters the book is based upon. The talk, which will include a slideshow of historic photos, will take place on September 17, at 8 p.m., and there will be a particular emphasis on the early 20th– century history of Auburn, N.Y., and the surrounding area.
“Nothing Daunted” is a true story about two Smith College graduates who left home in 1916 for the wilds of northwestern Colorado. After finding the letters that the two women had written while on their journey, Wickenden decided to turn their letters into a story. According to the book’s publisher Scribner, she “enhances the story with interviews with descendants, research about these vanished communities, and trips to the region, [creating] an exhilarating saga about two intrepid young women and the ‘settling up’ of the West.”
Wickenden graduated magna cum laude from William Smith. She is now one of the most influential women in journalism. She took the reins as executive editor of The New Yorker in 1995, where her guidance has helped the weekly to gain new audiences and successfully grapple with new issues.
During her time at William Smith, she earned High Honors in English and distinction for her baccalaureate essay. She also made dean’s list, won the Chester J. Hampton Prize for Excellence in English, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
In the year she graduated, Wickenden attended the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course and then moved to Washington, D.C. There, she was hired as an editorial assistant for the Shakespeare Quarterly at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
In 1978 she accepted a position as production manager of The New Republic, a magazine of centrist liberal opinion, later becoming managing editor and eventually the executive editor.
In 1988-89, she was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and in 1993, Wickenden became national affairs editor for Newsweek.
Wickenden has written for The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Wilson Quarterly. She is the editor of The New Republic Reader: Eighty Years of Opinion and Debate, a compilation of the best work from some of the magazine’s top contributors, including George Orwell, Rebecca West, John Dewey, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and many others.
She has continued to support the Colleges through her close involvement with the student body as a speaker and panelist and as a board-appointed Trustee of the Colleges from 1994 to 1998. She served as a member of the William Smith Centennial Committee and returned this summer for Reunion to teach a mini course. She received the Alumnae Achievement Award in 1999 and, in 2006, gave the Colleges’ convocation address. She was also presented with the President’s Medal in 2006.
The photo above features Dorothy Wickenden during Reunion 2011.