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Little Wonder: The Fabulous Story of Lottie Dod, the World’s First Female Sports Superstar


A groundbreaking biography of the world’s first female sports superstar, the pioneering and uncompromising Lottie Dod.

Forthcoming: 6/2/20

$25.95 $19.46 Not Currently Available – Check Back Soon!

What people are saying…

“In this comprehensive and highly detailed account of Dod’s life, freelance journalist Abramsky chronicles her interests and winnings in each of the sports to which she devoted her attention . . . Even though Dod was a phenom in her day, she was largely forgotten without TV, movies, or social media to carry her name forward. Fortunately for sports fans and students of women’s studies, Dod won’t be overlooked thanks to Abramsky’s thorough biography. The author’s historical portrait helps readers appreciate Dod’s amazing feats long before Title IX was ever conceived. A welcome resurrection of a true pioneer.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Lottie Dod is one of the world’s great unsung sporting heroes. There wasn’t a glass ceiling she didn’t succeed in breaking, and in Little Wonder, Sasha Abramsky takes readers on an amazing journey across continents and decades as she shattered records and destroyed stereotypes along the way.”
—Billie Jean King

“It’s so important to remember the past champions, especially the women who tend to be forgotten in the history books.”
—Martina Navratilova

“Sasha Abramsky’s comprehensive and thoughtful portrait of Lottie Dod will challenge your assumptions of the limitations imposed on Victorian sportswomen. You will cheer for Little Wonder, a Cheshire teenager, as she tests and triumphs over competitors and stereotypes like few before her.”
—Rose George, author of Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood

“For anyone who cares about sports, feminism, and the juncture of the two, Sasha Abramsky has written an essential book. Decades before Babe Didrickson Zaharias, Billie Jean King, and Megan Rapinoe, there was Lottie Dod, the ‘Little Wonder.’ But who these days would have known about this athletic polymath without this fascinating biography?”
—Samuel G. Freedman, author of Letters to a Young Journalist


The latest from Akashic’s Edge of Sports imprint, curated by Dave Zirin.

Little Wonder: The Fabulous Story of Lottie Dod, the World’s First Female Sports Superstar is a biography of a truly extraordinary sports figure who blazed trails of glory in the last decades of the nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth centuries. Dod was the third woman to win the Ladies’ Championships at the Wimbledon tennis tournament. She did so for the first time in 1887, at the ludicrously young age of fifteen. She remains today the youngest person ever to have won a singles trophy in what would come to be known as the big-four Grand Slam tennis tournaments.

Dod won Wimbledon five times, grew bored with competitive tennis, and moved on to myriad other sports. She became the world’s leading female ice skater and tobogganist, perfecting her talents in St. Moritz, Switzerland; befriended Elizabeth Main, the most skilled female mountaineer of the age, and joined her in summiting many of Switzerland’s and Norway’s most difficult mountains; became an endurance bicyclist; played hockey for England; won the British ladies’ golf championship in 1904; and finally, in 1908, took the Olympic silver medal in archery in the London Olympics.

In her time, she had a huge following, with fans coming out by the thousands to cheer her on. She was feted by the media, and repeatedly profiled by the top sports journals of the day. Had Dod lived in a different age, this fame would have followed her throughout her life. But Dod’s years of glory occurred just before the rise of cinema, radio, and other electronic media. By the outset of World War I, she was largely a forgotten figure; she died alone and without fanfare in 1960.

Little Wonder brings this remarkable woman’s story to life, contextualizing it against a backdrop of rapid social change and tectonic shifts in the status of women in society. Dod was born into a world in which even upper-class women such as herself could not vote, were restricted in owning property, and were assumed to be fragile and delicate. True, the monarch was a queen, Victoria; but Victoria’s reign was hardly a bastion of feminist progress. Women of Lottie Dod’s class were expected not to work and to definitely get married. Dod turned that equation on its head; she never married and never had children, instead putting heart and soul into training to be the best athlete she could possibly be.

Dod was one of the pioneers who paved the way for the likes of Billie Jean King, Serena Williams, and the top female athletes of today. She accepted no limits, no glass ceilings, believed she could compete with the top men in whatever sport she set her sights on, and always refused to compromise.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Published: 6/2/20
  • IBSN: 9781617758195
  • e-IBSN: 9781617758263


SASHA ABRAMSKY is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared over the past twenty-five years in major newspapers and magazines in the United States and United Kingdom. These include the Nation, the Atlantic, the New Yorker online, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Independent, the Observer, and the New Statesman. He has written widely about poverty and inequality; hunger; mass incarceration; the treatment of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers; along with book reviews, cultural essays, and travel writing. Little Wonder is Abramsky’s ninth book. He teaches writing part-time at the University of California, Davis, and lives in Sacramento with his wife and two children.

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