Blogging from A to Z Challenge: H is for Harriet Quimby


My theme for the Blogging from A to Z challenge is Creativity. Today I take a look at the creativity of Harriet Quimby.

I was looking for some creative people from history to highlight, and there is, of course, a long list of well-known artists, writers, dancers, inventors, etc.

Then I came across Harriet Quimby, who I’d never heard of, and found her story very inspiring.

Quimby, born in 1875, was a pilot and a screenwriter. She was the first woman to get a pilot’s license in the United States, the first woman to fly across the English Channel, and one of the first female screenwriters.

In her mid-twenties, Quimby took up journalism in San Francisco. Shortly after, she moved to New York City and became a theater critic. Over the next nine years, more than 250 of her reviews were published. In 1911, she wrote seven screenplays for silent film shorts produced by Biograph Studios, making her one of the first female screenwriters. D.W. Griffith (famous for directing the controversial The Birth of a Nation) directed the shorts.

Aviation sparked her interest when she attended an aviation tournament on Long Island. There she met Alfred Moisant who ran an aviation school. At that time, the Wright Brothers also ran a flight-training school, but they would not teach women. Quimby convinced Alfred to teach her to fly, and in 1911, she received her pilot’s license. She began performing in aviation shows wearing what became her trademark outfit: a purple satin flying suit with a hood, which she designed.


In April, 1912, Quimby became the first woman to fly over the English Channel. But the sinking of the Titanic just days before overshadowed her achievement.

Sadly, just a few months later, Quimby was performing at an air show, her plane had a still-unknown mechanical failure, and both Quimby and her passenger were ejected from the plane, falling to their deaths. Quimby was 37 years old.

In her short life, Harriet Quimby expressed her creativity to the fullest with both her writing and her flying. Her story is an inspiration for us all to be dauntless creators!

Do you know of any not-so-well-known creative people from history? Or is there someone in your own life who you find particularly creative?

About lindacovella

I am an author of fiction and nonfiction for kids and teens.
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16 Responses to Blogging from A to Z Challenge: H is for Harriet Quimby

  1. Wow, what an awesome woman. Sad her life was cut short, but it sounds like she lived it to her fullest. You go girl! 😉

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

  2. Leanne Ross says:

    Wow! Harriet Quimby was such an interesting lady. Her life seems like something spectacular, but that didn’t guarantee her a spot in the history books. Sad.

    Thanks for sharing her story

    Leanne Ross ( & @LeanneRossRF )

    • lindacovella says:

      Leanne, I thought it strange I’d never heard of her. I was wondering if it was just me, that somehow I’d missed her story. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. What a fascinating woman Harriet Quimby was! Gotta love that she designed her own purple sating flying suit…and a hood. I don’t know why I’m hung up on the hood but I think its awesome! 😉

  4. Rosie Amber says:

    Such opportunities for a woman in her time and she was so brave and full of drive to want to fly in those early conditions. A real leader.

  5. An amazing woman. She sure was brave, especially in those times when everything a woman did took a certain kind of drive and determination. Thanks for highlighting her, Linda. There are so many creative people all around, it’s hard to think of a single one … so hard. 🙂

  6. What a remarkable woman, but such a sad and untimely death. Still, she did a lot of living in her short time here.

  7. cfjeanjean says:

    What an interesting person – thank you for sharing that! She would make fantastic character inspiration in a story! Looking forward to discovering other interesting people on your blog!

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