Marie Marvingt (1875-1963), "the Fiancée of Danger," excelled at every sport, invented the ambulance airplane, set the world's first aviation records for women, piloted a balloon across the North Sea (other people died trying to do this), fought in the trenches of World War I, was honored as a heroine of the Resistance in World War II, was a renowned globetrotter (and, in her later years, gatecrasher), and was decorated with the Croix de Guerre for her activities as the first female bomber pilot.
In 1963, Earl G. Talbott wrote in the New York Herald Tribune, "Death, with whom Marie Marvingt had flirted for eighty-eight years, finally came yesterday in a French nursing home, and ended the career of one of the most amazing women who ever lived. She was known as 'The Fiancée of Danger,' and scored so many firsts as a sportswoman, flier, and all-around daredevil that an accurate tally is well-nigh impossible."
Was the account of her incredible life a hoax? (Some thought it was.) If not, what impelled her to do more and go farther than anyone of her day? And why has she been all but forgotten? These questions drove me to spend thirty-nine years looking for answers.
The complete and intriguing story will soon be available in the first English-language biography of Marie Marvingt. In the meantime, enjoy a few glimpses of this remarkable human being.
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