'An instrument of joy'
Sisterly advice from Margaret Mead
Margaret Mead was for many years the leading anthropologist on the planet, thanks largely to Coming of Age in Samoa, a groundbreaking and controversial book she wrote after a research trip in 1925 in which a light was shone on the previously alien lives and relaxed sexual attitudes of adolescent Samoan girls. Although since contested, Mead’s findings were a revelation, and in fact have been credited with influencing the sexual revolution of the 1960s. In 1926, a year after setting foot on the Samoan island of T’au, Mead learnt of a sexual awakening much closer to home: that of her younger sister, Elizabeth. This letter of advice was her response.