Lapsley, Hilary 1949-

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Lapsley, Hilary 1949-


Born 1949, in Auckland, New Zealand; daughter of Robin (a minister) and Sylvia (a teacher) Lapsley; children: Paul Haines, Josie Haines. Ethnicity: "Pakeha." Education: University of Auckland, M.A. (honors), 1979, Ph.D., 1981. Politics: "Feminist."


Home—Karori, Wellington, New Zealand. E-mail—[email protected].


Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, began as research officer, 1981, became deputy director; University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, psychology lecturer, 1988-2000, chair of women's and gender Studies, 1998-99; Mental Health Commission of New Zealand, senior analyst, 2001—.


Women's Studies Association of New Zealand, New Zealand Psychological Society.


Fulbright scholar, 1992; New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal, 1993; Publishing Triangle Judy Grahn Award for lesbian nonfiction, 2000, for Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict: The Kinship of Women.


Mental Health for Women, Reed (Auckland, New Zealand), 1987.

Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict: The Kinship of Women, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 1999.

Also author of numerous research articles and reports.


By telling the story of Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, Hilary Lapsley explores the role that women have played in the advancement of anthropological studies. Of Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict: The Kinship of Women, Julia Glynn, writing in Booklist, commented: "Anyone who has ever taken an introduction to cultural anthropology course should enjoy this biography of the intimate relationship between two of the discipline's early, modern female pioneers, Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict." A commentator in Kirkus Reviews reported that "Lapsley … casts a fresh eye on a complex friendship that lasted twenty-five years." The reviewer closed with a general recommendation to anyone interested in feminism and anthropology: "Feminist scholars, anthropologists, and students of that post-WWI era when gender roles were in motion will appreciate this complex tale of two friends who stuck it out." According to Carolyn G. Heilbrun in her review of the volume in Women's Review of Books: "Lapsley portrays with originality and provocative detail the development of anthropology, from its earliest days to its establishment as a formal discipline. She is even-handed in her discussions of all subjects from academic personalities to marriage." Heilbrun's only objection to Lapsley's writing style was tempered by her praise of Lapsley's subject matter. "Once the two women have met, Lapsley's story becomes a powerful reminder of how friendship and love between women once flourished. We can hope that such love will (if the forces of the religious Right do not prevail) continue to flourish. If I occasionally wished that Lapsley had written with a bit more distinction and elegance, I remind myself how many dominant male figures of my youth wrote with distinction and elegance, but never managed to allow a new or revolutionary idea to penetrate the neat fortress of their polished prose."

Lapsley once told CA: "Researching and writing about these two inspirational women was a compelling journey for me."



Booklist, August, 1999, Julia Glynn, review of Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict: The Kinship of Women, p. 1999.

Journal of Lesbian Studies, Volume 4, number 3, 2000, Kimberly F. Balsam, "Widening the Lens," review of Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, p. 129.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1999, review of Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, p. 943.

Women's Review of Books, October, 1999, Carolyn G. Heilbrun, "Pioneering Partnership," pp. 13-14.