Deborah Friedell

Deborah Friedell is a contributing editor at the LRB.

The lawyers who tried to uphold the Texas statutes – ostensibly representing the Dallas district attorney, Henry Wade – argued that whoever Roe really was, she didn’t have sufficient ‘standing’ to bring her case to the Supreme Court. The plaintiff had to be someone who would be harmed if the law wasn’t overturned. Given the ‘normal 266-day human gestation period’, and the fact that it had taken more than a year for Roe v. Wade to reach the court, Roe must already have delivered a child, or miscarried, or found a way to have an abortion after all. The court batted this challenge away. ‘Pregnancy often comes more than once to the same woman,’ the majority decided. ‘If man is to survive, it will always be with us.’ Otherwise, Roe hardly appears in the judicial opinion that granted Americans the right to abortion ‘free of interference by the state’. Her anonymity, her everywomanishness, suited the court fine: Roe was just a stand-in. But Norma McCorvey – who would later say that she’d agreed to become Jane Roe in exchange ‘for a piece of pizza and a beer’ – never saw it that way.

At the British Library: Elizabeth and Mary

Deborah Friedell, 24 February 2022

Choosinga husband for Elizabeth I was always going to be tricky, but in 1560 the diplomat Nicholas Throckmorton announced that he’d figured it out. Throckmorton’s choice would strengthen Elizabeth’s claim to the throne, unite the island of Britain and guarantee peace with France. His candidate was intelligent (if not quite as scholarly as Elizabeth), above average height...

From The Blog
5 January 2022

On Monday, twelve jurors in San Jose agreed, unanimously, that Elizabeth Holmes was guilty on four counts, including ‘conspiracy to commit wire fraud’ against investors in her company, Theranos. On the charges that she defrauded patients, she was found not guilty. On other charges, regarding particular investors, jurors were unable to reach a verdict. It was a win for the prosecution – Holmes will go to prison – though the mixed bill suggested it had been a near thing. One of the jurors (an actor with a Daytime Emmy for writing the Tiny Toon Adventures theme song) gave an interview to ABC News, reported more fully on The Dropout podcast. When it began deliberating, the jury was divided on ‘most everything’, he said. ‘It’s tough to convict somebody, especially somebody so likeable, with such a positive dream.’

Sex with Satan

Deborah Friedell, 21 October 2021

Whatwould the young Jonathan Franzen – an acolyte of Gaddis and Pynchon who identified with Kafka – make of the novels he would go on to write? That man was determined that ‘Franzen’ should connote ‘high art’, his own portmanteau of ‘high modern’ and ‘art fiction’. For years he dedicated himself to the conspiratorial plot of the...

No one​ thought that Ethel Rosenberg would be executed. At the time of her trial in 1951, no federal judge had sentenced a woman to death in nearly a hundred years. She hadn’t been accused of murder or of being an accomplice to a murder or of conspiracy to commit a murder. These, it seems, were the only crimes for which the American government might kill a woman. Female traitors during...

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