Leslie Brody

Leslie Brody

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“Irrepressible”: Redlands Professor and Award-Winning Author Publishes Biography on Queen of the Muckrakers

Award-winning author and Creative Writing Professor Leslie Brody will be giving a local reading of her recently published work on Jessica Mitford, a renowned investigative journalist and longtime civil rights activist.

Brody will be reading from and signing copies of her new work at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Redlands’ Citrus Plaza on Nov. 6 at 4:30 p.m.

“Irrepressible: the Life and Times of Jessica Mitford,” called the definitive biography of the long and adventurous life of the queen of the muckrakers, was released this October by Counterpoint Press.

In recent months, launch parties and readings have been held around the campus, in Los Angeles and in Oakland, and Brody is scheduled to continue her reading tour in New York and Connecticut this winter.

In preparing “Irrepressible,” Brody was given unprecedented access to the family archives by Mitford’s daughter, who authorized the text. Her work includes a 16-page photo insert of key scenes in the text of Mitford’s life.

Mitford was, in the words of Brody, “an investigative journalist, civil rights activist, vivid raconteur and champion of outsiders and underdogs. Admirers and detractors use the same words to describe her: muckraker, subversive, mischief-maker, tease and nuisance.”

Mitford, known as “Decca,” came to the United States in 1939 and became one of the New Deal’s most notorious bureaucrats.

“I wanted to write a book about someone who managed to hold on to the dreams of her youth,” Brody said. “I considered a number of other writers and thinkers…but I kept coming back to ‘Decca,’ drawn by her good humor and sense of fun, her honest writing and her courage—all characteristics that I prize highly.”

Mitford would go on to write nine books before her death in 1996, including “The American Way of Death” published in 1963— a bestseller that eventually led to congressional hearings on the funeral industry.

Previously, Brody’s work “Red Star Sister” earned her the prestigious PEN award for outstanding creative nonfiction in 1999. In addition, Brody has earned a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and several awards for her playwriting.

Brody’s newest work is available at and at

Read a review of Brody’s “Irrepressible” at, and an Associated Press story about her latest book. 

There are more than 1,700 trees on the University of Redlands campus.

In April 2010, it was designated a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Redlands is among just three other colleges or universities in California to receive this designation.

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