Heath Hardage Lee
Author, Historian, Curator

Heath Hardage Lee is an author, independent historian, and curator who comes from a museum education, preservation, and program background.  She started her museum career at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Director of Education and Programs.  Heath has since worked as a museum consultant for museums across the U.S.  She was the 2017 Robert J. Dole Curatorial Fellow, and her exhibition entitled The League of Wives:  Vietnam POW MIA Advocates & Allies about Vietnam POW MIA wives premiered at the Dole Institute of Politics in May of 2017.  The exhibit is currently traveling through 2020 to museum venues all over the country including the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Coronado Historical Association, and The Nixon Museum and Library.


Potomac Books, a division of the University of Nebraska Press, published Heath Hardage Lee’s first book, Winnie Davis:  Daughter of the Lost Cause, in 2014.  This biography about the youngest daughter of Confederate President Jefferson Davis won the 2015 Colonial Dames of America Annual Book Award as well as a Gold Medal for Nonfiction writing from the Independent Publisher 2015 Book Awards. Heath taught professionally for many years and has run two Museum Speaker Series.  When her first book, Winnie Davis:  Daughter of the Lost Cause was published in 2014, Heath spoke about that book at more than fifty venues, including The Great Lives Biography Series at the University of Mary Washington, Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, The Gettysburg Sacred Trust, and The Museum of the Confederacy.  The Museum of the Confederacy talk was filmed by C-Span.


Heath Hardage Lee’s new nonfiction book is The League of Wives:  The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home from Vietnam about the courageous wives of aviators who were Prisoners of War or Missing in Action during the Vietnam War. She has promoted both the League of Wives exhibition and the League of Wives book on radio shows.


In November 2018, Fox 2000 and Reese Witherspoon acquired the film rights to The League of Wives. 


She holds a B.A. in History with Honors from Davidson College, and an M.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Virginia. Follow Heath on Facebook and Twitter.

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The League of WivesThe Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home
St. Martin's Press

The true story of the fierce band of women who battled Washington—and Hanoi—to bring their husbands home from the jungles of Vietnam.

Winnie DavisDaughter of the Lost Cause

The first published biography of this little-known woman who unwittingly became the symbolic female figure of the defeated South.

The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home from Vietnam Heath tells the story of how the wives of American POWs and MIAs from the Vietnam War, told to “Keep Quiet” under the Johnson administration, went public with their husbands' stories of torture by the North Vietnamese in an effort to bring them home. This “League of Wives” founded by Sybil Stockdale became a powerful humanitarian lobby helping to facilitate the POWs' eventual return and the accounting of the missing in action.
Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause Heath recounts the unlikely story of Varina Anne “Winnie” Davis, the youngest daughter of Jefferson Davis. Educated in a German convent and sheltered from her family history, Winnie was an unlikely candidate for her honorary “Daughter of the Confederacy” title. She had a forbidden romance with the grandson of a famous abolitionist, became a well-regarded author, and moved to New York City post-war, ultimately becoming a cultural bridge between North and South.

NBC’s “Today Show” featured Heath Lee and her book The League of Wives in a segment about the women who lost their husbands in the Vietnam War.

The Washington Post reviewed Heath Hardage Lee’s The League of Wives.

Heath Hardage Lee was quoted in The Atlantic‘s “The Big Question” feature.

The Christian Science Monitor named Heath Hardage Lee’s The League of Wives as “April’s 10 Best Books to Bring on Spring.”

Time runs Heath Hardage Lee’s op-ed “Wives of Vietnam POWs Were Told to Keep Quiet About Their Husbands’ Captivity. Here’s What Convinced Them to Go Public.”

The New York Post includes The League of Wives in their Required Reading.

Listen to Heath Lee speak on PBS about her newest book The League of Wives.

The Washington Times features Heath’s curated exhibit on Vietnam War POWs’ wives.

Fox 2000 and Reese Witherspoon acquired the film rights for The League of Wives. Read the article on Vulture.

Follow Heath on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit Heath’s author website.

Praise for The League of Wives: "Exhilarating and inspiring..Most of the wives successfully managed the transition back into their domestic roles, and their story faded away. But Lee has brought it back to light, and Reese Witherspoon has bought the rights to film it. Hopefully, the example of their courage will embolden other potential heroines to claim their power — but also keep their influence.”
- The Washington Post

"Author Heath Hardage Lee brings readers a real-life account of politics, espionage, and secrets, inside a tale of a changing world and an unpopular war, inside a story of one small corner of the history of women’s rights."
- Christian Science Monitor

“A remarkable true story of love, war, courage, constancy and change—as a group of naval housewives transformed themselves into powerful advocates for their missing husbands. Drawing strength from one another, the women took on not one but two governments—the enemy’s and their own, to seek a safe return for the men. Their bravery will inspire you. I love this book!”
— Liza Mundy, Author of the NY Times Bestseller Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

"A stirring, dramatic tale of the incredible women who changed American culture. The League of Wives is a book much needed today. Heath Hardage Lee tells this inspiring story with verve and a sharp eye for detail. Highly recommended!"
— Jonathan Eig, author of Ali: A Life and The Birth of the Pill

"You’ll put hand to heart after reading The League of Wives about Americans who epitomize heroism in high heels. From white gloves to boxing gloves these military wives, once quiet and subservient, became warriors to save their POW MIA husbands shot down in Vietnam. They battled their government—challenged the State Department, the Pentagon, even the White House—to stand up and make the enemy accountable to the accords of the Geneva Convention. Girls with grit, these wives deserve the supreme salute, and Heath Hardage Lee honors them with grace and humanity."
— Kitty Kelley, author of His Way, Oprah, The Family, and many others

"Heath Hardage Lee’s The League of Wives recounts the powerful story of how a cabal of indomitable POWs’ wives relentlessly campaigned to free their captive husbands during the Vietnam War. Duty, honor, country, and love of family prevail. A must read!”
— Douglas Brinkley, the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University and author of Cronkite

"With astonishing verve, The League of Wives persisted to speak truth to power to bring their POW/MIA husbands home from Vietnam. And with astonishing verve, Heath Lee has chronicled their little-known story — a profile of courage that spotlights 1960s-era military wives who forge secret codes with bravery, chutzpah and style. Honestly, I couldn’t put it down."
— Beth Macy, author of Dopesick and Factory Man

Praise for Winnie Davis: “Can there be any major Civil War story that we haven’t heard? The answer is, yes! Here comes Heath Lee with the fascinating—and surprising—life of Varina Anne ‘Winnie’ Davis. . . . Clear, strong writing brings the history, mores, and manners of the day brilliantly to life.”
— Lee Smith, author of Guests on Earth and Fair and Tender Ladies

“Heath Lee has written a beautiful and thoughtful biography of Winnie Davis. . . . This is, in a sense, a biography of America in the aftermath of a civil war as much as it is a captivating story of a young woman who struggled to preserve her individuality when others elevated her to an icon.”
— Carol Berkin, author of Civil War Wives and Wondrous Beauty