On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (Paperback)
Soon to be a Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer, On Her Own Ground is the first full-scale biography of “one of the great success stories of American history” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), Madam C.J. Walker—the legendary African American entrepreneur and philanthropist—by her great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles.
The daughter of formerly enslaved parents, Sarah Breedlove—who would become known as Madam C. J. Walker—was orphaned at seven, married at fourteen, and widowed at twenty. She spent the better part of the next two decades laboring as a washerwoman for $1.50 a week. Then—with the discovery of a revolutionary hair care formula for black women—everything changed. By her death in 1919, Walker managed to overcome astonishing odds: building a storied beauty empire from the ground up, amassing wealth unprecedented among black women, and devoting her life to philanthropy and social activism. Along the way, she formed friendships with great early-twentieth-century political figures such as Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington.
About the Author
A’Lelia Bundles, author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker, is Walker’s biographer and great-great-granddaughter. Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker, the fictional four-part Netflix series inspired by this New York Times Notable Book and starring Octavia Spencer, premiered in the number one slot during its first weekend in 2020. She is chair emerita of the National Archives Foundation and a former ABC News Washington deputy bureau chief. She lives in Washington, DC. Visit her website at ALeliaBundles.com.
USA Today On Her Own Ground is a fascinating book about a fascinating woman....A wonderful story of an entrepreneur, but also a story about a dedicated African-American woman who was committed to giving her time and money to her community.
Chicago Tribune It is like finding out the secret sources of your past to read On Her Own Ground, a graceful biography by Walker's great-great-granddaughter....Bundles tells the tale with obvious affection and impressive scholarship....Under Bundles' deft handling, Walker's fable comes up fresh and inspirational. However we dress our hair, because of her, we daughters stand taller on our own ground.
The Philadelphia Inquirer The life of Madam C.J. Walker is one of the great success stories of American history. The wonder of it is that On Her Own Ground is the first full-blown biography of an amazing woman.
The New York Times Well-paced and well-written...as much social history as biography, filled with the detail and texture of culture and politics.
Chicago Sun-Times More than a history lesson in her rise to fame, On Her Own Ground offers inspiration to women -- regardless of race -- on how to succeed against all odds.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Bundles always knew, on some level, that this story was hers to tell. And she tells it with a controlled passion and an integrity that would have made Madam Walker proud.
Ishmael Reed Madam Walker is the key to understanding her generation. She had to battle the society that consigned her to doing its laundry...yet she triumphed to become one of the most fabulous African-American figures of the twentieth century.