Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon - Notable Women Ancestors
Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon
Copyright © 1999 by Silvia Pettem

As a pioneer woman educator, Mary Rippon received wide acclaim for her teaching, but in order to keep her job, she hid her husband and child behind a curtain of secrecy. Now, for the first time, Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon reveals the conflicts between this extraordinary woman's public and private lives.

Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon Some reviews--

"An engaging juxtaposition of late 1800s morality, replete with the clipped and proper vocabulary and cadence of the time, and millennial openness. Not leering or titillating, it nevertheless does what all good biography should: Teach the reader not just about one life, but about the context in which it was lived."

Clay Evans, Boulder Daily Camera

"This first biography of the first woman professor and one of the most beloved and respected University of Colorado faculty is a shocker. Pettem finds romance that would make for a fiction best seller. A love child in academe, a mysterious child fathered by a student, seems incredible baggage for the university's first woman professor, a spinster whom university President Joseph Sewall praised for her `exalted womanhood.'

In these pages you will find an amazing woman who lived life to the fullest, shattering the mold in which nineteenth century men wrapped women. Beautifully written and carefully researched and told, this story is vivid and unforgettable."

Tom Noel, author of many books on Colorado
Professor of History, University of Colorado at Denver.

"In this charmingly written and carefully documented biography we discover the lives of Mary Rippon, pioneer, intellectual, and a founding mother of the University of Colorado. Accepting the challenge of becoming the first woman professor in Colorado in an age rife with double standards, Mary Rippon revealed how character, will, and strength defy the strictures of tradition and lay their claim to advancing the human spirit.

This is a story about love, work, and redemption, not unlike Goethe's Faust, a classic that Professor Rippon introduced to Coloradoans before the first trees were ever planted around Old Main; but her story has surprising twists and there are no hapless Gretchens here. Not only Coloradoans, but Americans everywhere with an interest in the fortunes of women of the west should delight in this gem unearthed by Silvia Pettem. Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon humbles and uplifts us at the same time."

Adrian Del Caro, Author of Nietzsche contra Nietzsche
Professor of German and Chair, University of Colorado

"With skill and compassion, Silvia Pettem has revealed a previously unknown side of a remarkable educator. Intellectually gifted and well-educated, Mary Rippon sought and found a career in a man's world of higher education, but at the expense of her deeply human desires and emotions. Though Mary could never be a real mother to her own little girl, she became a revered mother figure to all young women on the University of Colorado campus. Mary also showed her capacity to love by providing the financial support for her child, the child's father, and the father's subsequent second family. This absorbing biography is the story of a modern-minded woman trapped in the mores of the Victorian age. Mary Rippon, a pioneering woman of the west, is a fitting role model for young women of today."

Jane Valentine Barker, Author of Mari: A Novel

How to order --

Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon has 280 pages, 30 photos, 6"x 9" format, and full color cover. It was published in 1999 by the Book Lode in both hardcover (ISBN 1891274031) and softcover (ISBN 189127404X). Contact to order from the author, or order through,, or your local bookstore.

The tinted cover photo of Mary Rippon was taken in 1899.
Courtesy Heritage Center, University of Colorado.

[Mary Rippon Home Page] [Mary Rippon's Profile]
[Time Line of Mary's Life] [Poetry]
[Author's Questions & Answers]

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If you have comments or questions, please e-mail Silvia Pettem.

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