May 2, 2016 • Anonymous
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Sally Weinraub ’71, who was born on March 29, 1921 and raised in Manchester, England, was not always a murder mystery author. Then again, it was not until she was 50 that she graduated from Manhattanville and enrolled at the Brooklyn Law School where she was one of the 14 women out of 104 students in her graduating class. Neither this nor the age gap kept her from practicing law for more than thirty years.
Of course, Weinraub’s story does not start in the late 1960s when she enrolled at the College, but rather in the 1940s when her family immigrated to the United States during World War II. Back then, her brothers were in the armed forces while the rest of the family remained in Brooklyn. There they each supported the war efforts in their own ways. For Weinraub, this meant becoming an editor for the “Victory Bulletin,” a wartime monthly newspaper sent out to soldiers and their families.
From this world of wartime anxiety and coping efforts, Weinraub drew the backdrop for her murder mystery cozies. Yet, it was not until she had run her tenure as an appeals lawyer that the character of Emily Lewis was born. The sleuth, who very closely resembles her British creator, is always on a quest to free the falsely accused. Her adventures, while fictitious, coexist in a universe of the author’s own experiences.
For her 95th birthday, Weinraub released the first four books at once in an attempt to emulate the binge entertainment trend of this day and age. “Murder at the Mikvah,” “In Six Weeks’ Time,” “Death of a Goddess,” and “Murder on the Intrepid” are the titles of the four publications.
“I’ve always enjoyed reading mysteries, especially cozies, where the good people find out the perpetrators, and morality wins out. Protagonist Emily Lewis just sprang into my mind. She is an appellate lawyer, as I am, who gets involved in her cases. So she was a natural for me,” Weinraub shared.
Something else that Weinraub enjoyed was her time at Manhattanville, although her memories might be quite different from the ones current students are making today. When Weinraub studied at the College, a 50-year-old among 20-somethings, the nuns still ran the school. “I loved Manhattanville. I loved the nuns. They were so smart and interesting and so different from me. I loved the ambience. My life there was a pleasure,” she reflected.
During her time at Manhattanville, she developed an affinity for classics and even considered becoming a classic professor before ultimately deciding to pursue law. She shared, “Be open to everything and always give your studies your all. It sounds sappy, but I remember sitting in my armchair with a Greek play and saying ‘This is supposed to be work?’”
Currently, Weinraub is working on the new installment of her cozy series, “Midnight at the Parthenon: An Emily Lewis Mystery.” As for her closing statements, the big age-is-just-a-number enthusiast said: “My advice is, forget age and keep going for as long as you can.”
Gabrielle van Welie ‘16