The “witch” of Wall Street

Frankfurt When you think of big investors, you can’t help thinking of men. Women are not included in such lists. Or is it?

An American woman achieved fame, comparable in her time to the reputation of men like John D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt. Only it was the big industrialists, while the said compatriot made her money in real estate, loans, banks, railways and on Wall Street.

Henrietta (“Hetty”) Howland Robinson was born in Massachusetts in 1834 into a wealthy Quaker family. The family had made a fortune with a whaling fleet.

She got in touch with money at the tender age of six, when she began reading business reports and stock market news to father and grandfather due to deteriorating eyesight. “That became my daily task,” she said later. It was the start of an unusual life: “This is how I learned what stocks and bonds are, how the market moves, and what ‘bull’ and ‘bear’ mean.”

Hetty Green knew how to handle numbers, so when she was 13 she ran the family’s financial accounts. The death of some family members in later years gave her several inheritances. A total of over five million dollars was raised. This was followed by the marriage to the entrepreneur and speculator Edward Henry Green, who was twelve years his senior, a part of life in London and the birth of two children.

Extreme thrift

After the death of her husband, she regularly dressed in black. She avoided going to the doctor for herself and her children and lived in cheap accommodation. Some chroniclers describe Green as pathologically frugal or stingy because she never turned on the heating in their apartments and did not use hot water.

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