Hillary Rodham Clinton: “The book is a continuation of a conversation Chelsea and I have been having since she was a little girl”


On Sunday 10 November, DIVA were lucky enough to see both Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton, in conversation with writer, broadcaster and professor, Mary Beard, at London’s Southbank Centre.

Brought together as part of the Autumn Literature Festival at Royal Festival Hall, the Clintons celebrated the release of their new, co-authored book, The Book Of Gutsy Women: Favourite Stories Of Courage And Resilience.

“Each of these women has fought and won the kinds of victories that pave the way for progress for all of us,” Hillary told the Southbank Centre in the lead up to the event.

“To us, they are all gutsy women – leaders with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. This book is a continuation of a conversation Chelsea and I have been having since she was a little girl, and we are excited to welcome others into that conversation.”

Chelsea added: “The gutsy women in this book share a fierce optimism that their work and lives will make a difference in the world. And, they’re right.

“We hope readers will draw strength from their stories as we have, because if history shows one thing, it’s that’s the world needs more gutsy women.”

Pupils from Lambeth Academy with Hillary Rodham Clinton backstage at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. 300 children and young people were provided with free tickets to the UK Exclusive event celebrating the launch of The Book of Gutsy Women on 10 November 2019. Credit: Southbank Centre.

The evening itself was a booked out affair, with the audience standing to applause as the mother-daughter power duo walked on stage for what would be an, “in part serious, in part fun” evening.

The three women opened up the conversation by asking who the book is for and why they’d decided to write it together. Hillary told how the book had been written “for everybody who gets discouraged” or “knocked down”, as well as a way to “lift up women’s voices.”

Chelsea added that she hoped The Book Of Gutsy Women would, in time, be “as galvanising to my son as to my daughter.”

The pair also went on to talk about the role of Juliette Gordon Low and the Girl Scouts in the US, the many women excluded from higher education over the years – including Vera Rubin who, “really helped articulate the case for dark matter” and “missed out” on a Nobel Prize because of gender inequality.

They also spoke of tennis player and LGBTQI advocate Billie Jean King, disability and women’s advocate Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, Clara Barton, Ruby Bridges Hall and many more of the “gutsy women” who feature in the book.

Southbank’s acting senior literature programmer, Bea Colley summed up the general atmosphere at Southbank when she said they were “absolutely delighted” to welcome the Clintons to “the home of literature and a place that has long been an advocate for gender equality.”

Get your hands on a copy of The Book Of Gutsy Women now, here.

Chelsea Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mary Beard on stage at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, 10 November 2019. Credit: Southbank Centre.

Hillary and Chelsea on…

Greta Thunberg

Hillary: “A lot of grown-up male leaders are scared of this little girl.”

Chelsea: In our country they, “attack her because they can’t attack the science and the data… also her clarity and fierceness… [that’s] threatening to a lot of people.”

Hillary: “She’s a young woman… she rattles all the paradigms that people still live with.”


Hillary: “I’ve always admired Britain… gumption, grit… but I am, as a great admirer, concerned… I don’t understand it. It’s hard to figure out exactly where you’re headed. It was always an outward looking country… to see it shrink.

“We all need to stick together. We need you to be the sane member of this partnership!”

How much has changed for women…

Chelsea: “I hadn’t realised how much had changed in just a generation… It’s so different [Chelsea’s generation, in comparison with Hillary’s]. “In some ways, that’s what we had to wrestle with.”

“The challenging part,” Chelsea said, was when their editor said they, “could not have 200 people in the book. Narrowing down”, she continued, was “really painful.”

Being gutsy…

Hillary: “It isn’t easy [being gutsy], it’s the structures of power that should change… Everybody gets knocked down, the real question is are you going to get back up and go at it again?”

She added: “There are many different types of gutsy.”

Gutsy men…

Hillary: “The first person who popped in my head is Nelson Mandela. I think about him a lot… In current times, there’s a real struggle going on. There’s a lot of ‘toxicness’ coming from male leaders.”

Hillary also named Barack Obama as someone she’d consider a contemporary “gutsy man.”

Chelsea: “Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson coming out publicly with his HIV+ status”, which was, “extraordinarily courageous” [at the time].

On being more self-confident as women…

Hillary: “I learned a long time ago to take criticism seriously but not personally… Anyone trying to tear you down, pay no attention.”

Chelsea: “Take unserious criticism from unserious people unseriously” – and vice versa.

On raising courageous children…

Chelsea, who raises her three young children with the support of her family and nannies, in her own words: “a wonderful ecosystem of care” says: “By sharing stories they relate to” and by encouraging them to be “brave and kind.”

On what they do in their spare time…

Chelsea: “I’m a big runner, I run a lot”, her, her mother and late grandmother also share a love of, “mystery novels centred on female detectives…

“I’m also obsessed with the Great British Bake Off,” she added, laughing.

Hillary: “I love to walk in nature of any kind.”

On what advice they’d give their younger selves…

Hillary: “Keep learning, challenge yourself, take risks… Live your own life and live it as gutsy as you can!”

Chelsea: “Be aware of your blessings.”

The Book Of Gutsy Women: Favourite Stories Of Courage And Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton is published by Simon & Schuster. This event was made possible as part of Literature At Southbank, Southbank Centre’s annual London Literature Festival #TheBookOfGutsyWomen

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