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WIVES OF GENIUS: Bertha Benz, Dorothy Carnegie, Julia Umantseva and their actions in the name of loved ones (Part II)

WIVES OF GENIUS: Bertha Benz, Dorothy Carnegie, Julia Umantseva and their actions in the name of loved ones (Part II)
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Photo: Berta Benz / Dorothy Carnegie / Julia Umantseva


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Creative, sacrificial, wayward, sometimes eccentric – the wives of geniuses. To be the “second half” of an outstanding person is hard work, a fateful vocation, and sometimes a life mission. The wives of geniuses have to take everything into their own hands, and sometimes go into the shadows in time.

We are writing again about women who helped their husbands become who they are. Below – about the main women in the destinies of the German mechanic-inventor Karl Benz, the American educator-motivator Dale Carnegie, the Ukrainian poet and prose writer Mykola Khvylovy.




“Darling, please don’t worry. We are at mom’s! Everything is all right, “- such a telegram was sent to her husband by 39-year-old Bertha Benz. In the early morning of August 5, 1888, she gathered the teenage children Eugen and Richard on the world’s first car trip. Her husband was still asleep at the time. Otherwise, he would never have blessed his wife for such a risky adventure.
Karl Benz was a genius inventor, but he often doubted. Two years earlier, he patented the world’s first gas-powered car and showed it on the streets of Mannheim. But he did not dare to ride it for long distances.

His wife is another matter. She and her sons pushed the Model III Patent Motorwagen out of the gate, fired up the single-cylinder engine and embarked on a 90 km journey to the town of Pforzheim.

The ride was nervous – thin wheels were damaged on the road broken by horses, the car had to be pushed frequently. Bertha Benz used her hairpin to clean a clogged fuel line, fix brake pads at a shoemaker, and do minor repairs with her own hands.

When all the fuel was used up, Bertha stopped by the pharmacy, bought all the stocks of the naphtha remover and successfully completed her journey. On the way, she realized that the car needed additional gear for difficult sections.

She returned home in the same car and shared all her conclusions with her husband. It was this journey that drew attention to the auto inventions of Karl Benz. Rumors spread in the patriarchal community: “Well, if a woman can do it, then a man can do it!” The first test drive and the first car rally marked the beginning of the active development of the automotive industry. And all thanks to the brave Bertha Benz.


WIVES OF GENIUS: Bertha Benz, Dorothy Carnegie, Julia Umantseva and their actions in the name of loved ones (Part II)
Karl and Bertha Benz /




“The first step to success is helping your husband decide where he is going,” is the advice from the title section of the book How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead in his Social and Business Life. It was written by Dorothy Carnegie, wife of an American educator and lecturer, founder of Dale Carnegie’s self-help and communication skills courses.

He is the author of the all-time bestselling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, according to The New York Times. Since its first publication, 30 million copies have been sold worldwide.

Dale Carnegie was a successful speaker and a good teacher of personal success. However, his family life was bursting at the seams. He lived for a decade with his first wife and was forced to divorce quietly, with concessions and losses – if only his students and lecturers did not find out about this. This fact could negatively affect the sales of his books.

Dorothy Price Vanderpool was his sincere fan: she never missed a single lecture by Dale Carnegie, bought up all of his books and each had a dedication. She managed to win his heart and monetize her husband’s talent.

Dorothy was adventurous and loyal. Indeed, according to a competently drawn up prenuptial agreement, she owned half of her husband’s income. On the other hand, she identified herself as nothing more than “the wife of Dale Carnegie, an American specialist in human relations,” completely becoming a shadow of her husband. In her book, she writes: “The enthusiastic attitude of a wife to her husband’s work is the best advertisement for his activities.”


WIVES OF GENIUS: Bertha Benz, Dorothy Carnegie, Julia Umantseva and their actions in the name of loved ones (Part II)
Dale and Dorothy Carnegie /




Yulia Umantseva was the wife of the Ukrainian poet and prose writer Mykola Khvylovy. She became the prototype of Comrade Zhuchka in the writer’s story Puss in Boots. According to rumors shared by other writers of the literary association VAPLITE, he did not love Yulia, but he owed her life. Party worker Yulia Umantseva, according to the recollections of friends of Mykola Khvylovy, saved him from being shot.

On October 20, 1968, the writer Ivan Senchenko told the literary critic Vasil Pivtoradni: “M. Khvylovy was twice sentenced to death. Once – by the Petliurites, the second – by the Cheka near Orel, when Denikin was advancing on Moscow. There was some kind of fault behind M. Khvylovy, but excessive cruelty was revealed towards him.

Yulia Umantseva stood up for Khvylovy and told the Cheka investigator in charge of Khvylovy that if he was shot, let her be shot too. The Cheka investigator pondered the Khvylovy case and found him and Yulia Umantseva innocent. Since then, Khvylovoy married Yulia Umantseva and, although he did not love her, he carried a heavy burden on himself. Khvylovy had extensive connections with the Cheka, with party leaders.”

When Mykola Khvylovy took his own life by firing a Browning pistol in the temple, he left two suicide notes. One of them For Lyuba, the daughter of Yulia Umantseva.

It contained the following lines: “My golden Lyubistok, forgive me, my little blue-winged, for everything. By the way, I destroyed my endless novel yesterday, not because I didn’t want it to be published, but because I had to convince myself: I destroyed it, so I have already found the will to do what I do today.” The second time, Yulia Umantseva was not able to save her husband.


WIVES OF GENIUS: Bertha Benz, Dorothy Carnegie, Julia Umantseva and their actions in the name of loved ones (Part II)
Mykola Khvyleva with her daughter Lyuba and wife Julia /


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