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A Wild and Precious Life

A Memoir

Edie Windsor with Joshua Lyon

St. Martin's Press

A Wild and Precious Life Download image

ISBN10: 1250195136
ISBN13: 9781250195135


288 Pages



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Lambda Literary Award Finalist

Edie Windsor became internationally famous when she sued the U.S. government, seeking federal recognition for her marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of more than four decades. The Supreme Court ruled in Edie’s favor, a landmark victory that set the stage for full marriage equality in the U.S. Beloved by the LGBTQ community, Edie embraced her new role as an icon; she had already been living an extraordinary and groundbreaking life for decades.

In this memoir, which she began before passing away in 2017 and completed by her co-writer, Edie recounts her childhood in Philadelphia, her realization that she was a lesbian, and her active social life in Greenwich Village's electrifying underground gay scene during the 1950s. Edie was also one of a select group of trailblazing women in computing, working her way up the ladder at IBM and achieving their highest technical ranking while developing software. In the early 1960s Edie met Thea, an expat from a Dutch Jewish family that fled the Nazis, and a widely respected clinical psychologist. Their partnership lasted forty-four years, until Thea died in 2009. Edie found love again, marrying Judith Kasen-Windsor in 2016.

A Wild and Precious Life is remarkable portrait of an iconic woman, gay life in New York in the second half of the twentieth century, and the rise of LGBT activism.


Praise for A Wild and Precious Life

“[Edie Windsor] refused to give up on the promise of America. There was not a cynical, defeatist bone in her body . . . It’s easy to go weary fighting these fights, but remember Edie Windsor who took on and won against the U.S. Government. She pushed us all to be better, to stand taller, to dream bigger.”—Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her eulogy

“Only a couple of times in a generation are we fortunate enough to witness the power of one individual who creates massive change. Edie Windsor was such a person. Her name joins an exclusive list of individuals who stood up for their rights and changed the world. Not only did she insist on freedom in a field of anger, she moved among us with grace, dignity and caring. Edie Windsor is an example of what happens when one turns love into power.”—David Mixner, author and activist

"Sit down with Edie Windsor as she shares stories of her life in this thoroughly enjoyable memoir that reveals the civil rights icon as much more than the one-dimensional public version so many of our heroes become. By the time you turn the last page, you'll love Edie for so much more than just taking down DOMA."Jim Obergefell, author of Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality

“In a forthright and vivid memoir . . . Windsor reveals her early realization of her attraction to women and her long struggle to navigate homophobia among family members and at work, to live openly as a lesbian, and to marry the woman she loved . . . A candid portrait of an indefatigable woman.”Kirkus Review

“A big-picture look at Windsor’s entire life, including her immigrant experience and childhood in Philadelphia; her enviable 1950s Greenwich Village social life; her relationship with Thea Speyer that began rocky and ended 44-years later when Thea succumbed to MS; her late-life yet intense activism; and her second marriage to Judith Kasen-Windsor. Most enjoyable in this telling is Windsor’s willingness to reflect and adjust.”Booklist

“With many sparkling memories paired with materials from personal archival collections, this account enthralls with every turn of the page . . . Whether readers are seeking material on U.S. LGBTQ history, particularly regarding the pre–Stonewall era, or an enrapturing memoir, this work will satisfy. Don’t miss out on this essential read.”Library Journal (starred review)


Read an Excerpt


In 1932, a polio epidemic swept through Philadelphia, with 728 reported cases that resulted in eighty-four deaths. The virus found its way inside me, and my older brother, Blackie, caught it soon after. We were hospitalized...

About the author

Edie Windsor with Joshua Lyon

EDIE WINDSOR was an American LGBTQ rights activist and a technology manager at IBM. She was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court of the United States case United States v. Windsor, which successfully overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which provided that the term "spouse" only applied to marriages between a man and woman—a landmark legal victory for the same-sex marriage movement in the United States. In 2013 she was the Grand Marshal of the New York City LGBTQ Pride March and the runner-up, to Pope Francis, for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Edie passed away peacefully on September 12, 2017. She is survived by her second wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor.

JOSHUA LYON (co-writer) is the author of Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict and has ghostwritten several New York Times bestselling and award-winning LGBTQ memoirs. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Aubrey Edwards

Joshua Lyon

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Judith Kasen-Windsor

Edie Windsor

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