#ThrowbackThursday: Violet Gordon-Woodhouse

Violet Gordon-Woodhouse (The Clarion Review)

Violet Gordon-Woodhouse (The Clarion Review)

Here’s someone you might not have learned about in history class: British musician Violet Gordon-Woodhouse was born on this day in 1872. She’s known for bringing the harpsichord back into popularity, and used it to make some records. Gordon-Woodhouse was the first person to make a harpsichord recording, and the first musician to broadcast a performance with the instrument.

But her story is also infused with sexuality. She married Gordon Woodhouse in 1895, taking both his names for her professional one, and finagled a marriage very beneficial to her needs: She insisted on time to pursue her career, and to open the marriage. At one point, Gordon-Woodhouse’s menagerie of men swelled to three others besides her main husband. (Sadly, I couldn’t find any photographic evidence of this ménage a cinq.)

I first read about Gordon-Woodhouse in Betsy Prioleau’s 2004 book, “Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love.” (It’s a great book, if you’re interested in learning about women taking a no-holds-barred approach to their life and loves.) We should all aspire to lead our lives as open as Gordon-Woodhouse did.

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