Cover image of book "A Wild and Precious Life" by Edith Windsor

A Wild and Precious Life

A Wild and Precious Life

A lively, intimate memoir from a marriage equality icon of the gay rights movement, describing gay life in the 1950s and 60s New York City and her longtime activism.

Edith “Edie” Windsor became internationally famous when she sued the US government, seeking federal recognition for her marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of more than four decades. The Supreme Court ended up ruling in Edie’s favor. This landmark victory set the stage for full marriage equality in the US.

Even though Edie had already been living an extraordinary and groundbreaking life for decades, she embraced her new role as an icon.

She began this memoir before passing away in 2017 and her co-writer completed it after her passing. Edie recounts her childhood in Philadelphia, her realization that she was a lesbian, and her very active social life in Greenwich Village’s electrifying underground gay scene during the 50s. Edie was also one of a few 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 for 42 years up to Thea’s death in 2009. Edie found love again, marrying Judith Kasen-Windsor in 2016.

This book paints a 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.

About the Author

Most people know Edith “Edie” Windsor as the stylish, silver-haired plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that stuck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, opening the doors for nationwide marriage equality.

What not many people outside the industry know, is that Edie was also a pioneering technologist, a female leader at a major computing corporation at a time when few women were even entering the field.

Edie earned her bachelor’s degree from Temple University in 1950, followed by a master’s degree in mathematics from New York University in 1957, and post-graduate studies in applied math at Harvard University.

She worked for 16 years at IBM, rising to the company’s highest technical rank, Senior Systems Programmer, on the strength of her top-notch debugging skills. She left IBM in 1975, becoming the founding president of PC Classics during which time she helped countless LGBTQ groups become tech literate. In 2016, Lesbians Who Tech launched the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship Fund, which funds coding-school tuition for queer and gender-nonconforming women, and provides them with mentorship and other support systems.

Edie was recognized by the National Computing Conference as an operating systems pioneer. She passed away on 12 September 2017, at the age of 88.

Where to Order the Book


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