Hidden History - Women Wisdom

Famous Virginia Females Quiz

Women Wisdom

Test your knowledge about these famous females from Virginia

By Ben Swenson


In this issue’s cover feature we recognize 10 modern Hampton Roads women who represent beauty inside and out. But how much do you know about other well-known Virginia women? Take the following quiz to find out.

1. This daughter of Chief Powhatan, who likely participated in a mock execution of Captain John Smith, is buried in Gravesend, England.
A. Sacajawea
B. Matoaka
C. Opossunoquonuske
D. Opechancanough

2. This film and television star roasted Rush Limbaugh at a 2009 White House correspondent’s dinner, telling Barack Obama that she hoped Limbaugh’s kidneys fail.
A. Wanda Sykes
B. Paula Poundstone
C. Bea Arthur
D. Whoopi Goldberg

3. Which African American banker is sometimes mistaken for a beauty and hair product entrepreneur?
A. Harriet Jacobs
B. Lorraine Hansberry
C. Maggie Walker
D. Daisy Bates

4. Which “First Lady of Song” earned both the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom?
A. Nikki Giovanni
B. Queen Esther Marrow
C. Ruth Brown
D. Ella Fitzgerald

5. Which Virginia author was so popular that publishers brought in a ghostwriter after her death to keep writing books under her name?
A. V.C. Andrews
B. Janet Evanovich
C. Amy Tan
D. Annie Finch

6. Whom did former Gov. Tim Kaine pardon, some say 300 years too late?
A. Virginia Dare
B. Grace Sherwood
C. Rebecca Rolfe
D. Martha Washington

7. Which rocker worked as a bank teller in Richmond before belting out the 80s anthems “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Love is a Battlefield”?
A. Debbie Gibson
B. Taylor Dayne
C. Pat Benatar
D. Annie Lennox

8. Which Virginia author sold no copies at the initial book signing of her first novel, Postmortem?
A. Emma Goldman
B. Mary Higgins Clark
C. Martha Grimes
D. Patricia Cornwell

9. Which “Crazy” singer sold millions of country albums posthumously?
A. Juice Newton
B. Patsy Cline
C. June Carter Cash
D. Pearl Bailey

10. Which Portsmouth-born woman overcame abuse and poverty to become one of the industry’s most successful R&B singers?
A. Missy Eliot
B. Nikki Flores

1. Answer: B. Matoaka. Ok, for anyone even remotely versed in Virginia history, this was a dead giveaway, so I had to obfuscate the correct answer. The answer, of course, is Pocahontas, which happened to be a nickname meaning something like “little playful one.” Matoaka was her given name at birth.

2. Answer: A. Wanda Sykes. The Portsmouth-born Sykes was responding to Limbaugh’s public pronouncement that he hoped President Obama failed. The remark did little to stifle Sykes’s popularity as one of the nation’s funniest comediennes.

3. Answer: C. Maggie Walker. Often confused with Madam C.J. Walker (who made a fortune in cosmetics) the similarly-named but Richmond-born Maggie L. Walker was a successful philanthropist and businesswoman. She was the first African American woman to start a bank, and her hard work helped keep it open for more than a century.

4. Answer: D. Ella Fitzgerald. She might have left Virginia shortly after her birth, but the Newport News-born Fitzgerald made her stage debut in New York at age 17 and eventually won 13 Grammys. Fitzgerald was critically acclaimed for her extraordinary vocal range and for her innate sense of rhythm and harmony.

5. Answer: A. V.C. Andrews. Maine may have Stephen King, but Virginia has its own claimto-gothic-literature-fame in V.C. Andrews. The Portsmouth-born novelist captured a loyal fan base in 1979 with Flowers in the Attic and published six more riveting novels before she died in Virginia Beach in 1986.

6. Answer: B. Grace Sherwood.
Sherwood was convicted of witchcraft and imprisoned in 1706 in Princess Anne County, as Virginia Beach was then known. Kaine, however, owned up to the fact that the whole dunk-herself-in-the-water-and-seeif-she-floats isn’t exactly due process and pardoned her 300 years to the day she was convicted.

7. Answer: C. Pat Benatar.
Benatar might not have been a Virginia native, but she lived in the commonwealth while her first husband, Dennis Benatar, was stationed at Fort Lee outside of Richmond.

8. Answer: D. Patricia Cornwell.
Cornwell is a master of graphic crime novels, and has sold many millions of copies of her more than two dozen fiction and nonfiction works. Cornwell’s inspiration for Postmortem and several other novels came while working at the Office of the State Medical Examiner in Richmond.

9. Answer: B. Patsy Cline. Cline was born in the mountains northwest of Winchester and was a favorite for country classics like “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces.” Sadly, Cline met an untimely death at age 30 in a plane crash, but her beautiful voice guaranteed a timeless legacy.

10. Answer: A. Missy Eliot.
Whether you like to “Lose Control,” “Work It” or “Pass That Dutch,” it’s Missy “Misdemeanor” Eliot who can do it for you. She now has five platinum albums—not bad for a woman who admittedly began her singing career serenading her baby dolls with Jackson 5 songs.