Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh
Author and aviator
Born: June 22, 1906, in Englewood, New Jersey
Died: February 7, 2001, in Passumpsic, Vermont
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2021: Arts & Letters
As one of America’s first female aviators, it seems fitting that Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s life should be marked by a series of extreme ups and downs. Although the fame of her husband, aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, obscured her own achievements, Anne was herself an accomplished flyer and successful author.
Anne Morrow was born into great wealth. Her father, Dwight W. Morrow, was a partner in the banking house of J.P. Morgan & Company, and also served as a Republican senator from New Jersey and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Anne was a 21-year-old Smith College senior when she traveled to Mexico in December 1927 to spend the Christmas holidays with her family. Among their guests was Charles Lindbergh, four years Anne’s senior. Lindbergh had won global fame for his solo flight across the Atlantic the previous May. Two years after meeting in Mexico, Anne and Charles married in a private ceremony at the Morrow home in Englewood.
From the start of their marriage, the couple took to the air together, charting routes that would pave the way for commercial aviation. Charles taught Anne to fly; she became the first American woman to earn a first-class glider pilot’s license as well as her private pilot’s license. In 1935, Anne’s first book, “North to the Orient,” chronicled the survey flights the couple took across Canada, Alaska and Asia. Anne served as co-pilot, radio operator and navigator on the flights; her book was an immediate success. A second book, “Listen! The Wind,” documented the duo’s survey of North and South Atlantic air routes.
When not flying, the glamorous couple lived away from the spotlight on a 400-acre estate in rural Hopewell, in Mercer County. The Lindberghs were at home on March 1, 1932, when they realized their 20-month-old son, Charles Jr., was missing. Some 10 weeks later, searchers discovered the child’s body. The subsequent trial, conviction and execution of accused kidnapper Bruno Richard Hauptmann unleashed a flood of uninvited publicity on the Lindberghs as Anne struggled to deal with the violent death of her first-born.
Later in the decade, the Lindberghs weathered a storm of their own doing. As war broke out in Europe, Anne’s 1940 book “The Wave of the Future” echoed her husband’s advocacy of isolationism. According to the New York Times, “she wrote that she did not endorse communism or fascism,” but saw them as inevitable. Around the same time, she wrote in a letter that Hitler was “a very great man.”
In later years, Anne acknowledged her naivete about Nazism. The public was forgiving. Her 1955 book about love and marriage, “Gift From the Sea,” became her greatest success, spending 80 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list (47 weeks at No. 1) and, according to the Times, sold more than 5 million copies in its first 20 years in print. In all, she wrote more than two dozen books of poetry and prose, including five volumes of diaries that reveal the extreme highs and lows of her life.