LADY AT THE OK CORRAL is the biography of Josephine Marcus Earp, the woman who was Wyatt Earp’s common law wife for nearly 50 years, the woman who sparked the world’s most famous gunfight, the one who buried her husband in a Jewish cemetery after he died — in her bed — in 1929, and the one who shaped the legend of Wyatt Earp and the Wild West.
I’ve always been interested in how people’s lives are shaped by the accidents of history. My first book, Sala’s Gift, told the story of my mother, a Holocaust survivor who lived through five years of war as a Nazi slave laborer. I wrote that deeply personal story with the help of hundreds of letters that she received in labor camps, but then kept hidden after the war. My mother’s friends and family were a remarkable cast of characters; I wanted so much to bring them to life, as so few of them were alive to tell their own story.
How different this book appears to be — and yet I hope you will see the thread of re-invention and history that ties my interests together. I was first drawn to Josephine by the incongruity of a 19th century Jewish woman in Tombstone. When I was a kid, westerns dominated the networks, but the cowboys, Indians, and lawmen I watched on tv rarely had mothers, sisters, or wives. Now I was fascinated by the enigma of Mrs. Earp. For four years, the detective work of untangling her secrets led me from the boomtowns of Arizona to Nome, Alaska, and finally to California deserts and the Hollywood backlots where Josephine and Wyatt spent their final years.
My hope is to inspire and entertain once again with the story of a remarkable woman, an unforgettable marriage, and the frontier history that shaped America.
Ann Kirschner is the university dean of Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York. She is the author of Sala’s Gift and Lady at the OK Corral and is an innovator in education, media, and technology. She lives in New York City with her husband, Dr. Harold Weinberg, and is the mother of Elisabeth, Caroline, and Peter.
Ann Kirschner began her career as a lecturer in Victorian literature at Princeton University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English. Her career as an entrepreneur in media and technology included the creation of satellite and internet businesses for the National Football League and Columbia University’s online education company, Fathom. A frequent contributor to conferences and publications, Ann Kirschner was named one of New York Magazine’s “Millennium New Yorkers” and honored as a distinguished graduate of Princeton University and University of Buffalo. She serves on the Board of Directors of Apollo, Public Agenda, the Jewish Women’s Archive, and on the Advisory Council of the Princeton University English Department, and its Graduate School, and on the Jefferson Scholarship Foundation of the University of Virginia.
SALA’S GIFT (Simon and Schuster, 2006) is the story of her mother’s wartime rescue of letters from Nazi labor camps, published also in German, Polish, Italian, French, Czech, and Chinese editions. The original letters are in the permanent collection of the New York Public Library, and are the subject of a traveling exhibit in the United States and Europe, a theatrical play by Arlene Hutton, and a documentary film by Murray Nossel.
She received a BA in English from State University of New York at Buffalo, an MA in English from University of Virginia, and a PhD in English from Princeton University, where she was a Whiting Fellow in the Humanities.