Ann Ferrar / Author / Contact
Journalist and author Ann Ferrar is an accomplished writer of narrative non-fiction from New York City. She is the biographer of Bessie Stringfield and the author of a groundbreaking book on women in a non-traditional milieu, titled Hear Me Roar: Women, Motorcycles and the Rapture of the Road (NY: Crown Trade Paperbacks/Random House, 1996). Ann's upcoming book is the biography African American Queen of the Road: Bessie Stringfield—A Woman's Journey Through Faith, Resilience and the Road.
Ferrar, with her decades-long track record in journalism and narrative non-fiction, has written feature articles for The New York Times, American Motorcyclist and online venues, such as the website of the American Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, where she wrote about Bessie Stringfield for her induction in 2002. Prior to Ann's most famous story of Bessie published in Hear Me Roar in 1996, this museum and others actually knew very little about Bessie Stringfield. Ann's story in Hear Me Roar, called Bessie B. Stringfield: The Color Blue, helped get Bessie inducted to the Hall of Fame, and the story was read by the emcee at Bessie's induction ceremony.
Hear Me Roar was the first book ever written on the history of female bikers. Throughout her career, Ferrar has written other feature stories and essays on women's issues, health and lifestyles, and a variety of human interest topics. Her articles have been published in major international magazines, websites and via syndication.
Ann's curiosity and skill at finding and writing about notable yet overlooked women led the author to conduct and audio-record a series of interviews with Bessie Stringfield. Ann's exclusive, copyrighted sound recordings, in which the author elicited Bessie's memories, are the foundation upon which Ferrar further researched and crafted her published narratives on Bessie Stringfield, in print and on the web. Note that Ferrar's material, which includes the author's expression of thought on the life and times of Bessie Stringfield, is not in the public domain for unauthorized use by other parties.
Bessie Stringfield was an undiscovered pioneer who rode motorcycles around America in the pre-Civil Rights, pre-feminist decades. Ferrar's African American Queen of the Road biography has never-before-published stories of Bessie's private life, which are embedded in Ferrar's tapes but which the author has been saving for her book. Ferrar's exclusive tapes of Bessie—the only sound recordings of Bessie Stringfield in existence—are the bedrock of the new biography.
In 1990, at the start of her research and writing of the first edition of Hear Me Roar, the author met Bessie Stringfield. In addition to Bessie, Ferrar met and interviewed more than 100 women, rode tens of thousands of miles around America on her own motorcycle, and was a participant-observer in scores of rallies and other events. Ferrar's archival research, along with interviews of descendants of early 20th-century riders, yielded the first chronicle of these forgotten pioneers of the American road.
Hear Me Roar was critically acclaimed, cited in scholarly studies of women in non-traditional roles, and covered by The New York Times, CNN, Entertainment Weekly and other mainstream media outlets, in addition to the motorcycle press.
Over the years, Ferrar has been consulted for her expertise on the history of women riders, especially for her knowledge of Bessie Stringfield. She was consulted for a segment about Ms. Stringfield on CNBC's Jay Leno's Garage. She has contributed her expertise to museums and appeared in PBS and History Channel documentaries, including Glory Road: The Legacy of the African American Motorcyclist and American Biker. The author was a guest lecturer at the Women's Studies Department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has given seminars at colleges, libraries, and at events for riders and women in the general public.
Ann rode her own motorcycles for 18 years, owning six different bikes. She began in her native New York City and became an assertive urban rider and a long-distance solo rider, covering 35 of the 48 lower U.S. states and parts of Canada. It was a natural transition for Ann to switch from writing for national women's and health magazines to writing freelance cover features for the Driving and Travel sections of The New York Times.
Ferrar was born and raised in the Gravesend section of South Brooklyn, New York. She began writing short stories as a young child, as soon as she was old enough to hold pen and pencil. She is an alumna of Brooklyn College, City University of New York, where she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in TV/Radio. Afterward, she completed New York University's Film Intensive course, but ultimately, Ann stayed with her first love: narrative storytelling, aka creative non-fiction, on the printed page and later on the web.
A member of the Authors Guild and PEN America, Ann lived in TriBeCa in Lower Manhattan for many years, where she was nicknamed the Literary Biker Chick for her combined passion for writing and riding—via her pioneering work on Hear Me Roar; her freelance motorcycle articles for The New York Times; her many road trips around the country; and her participation in countless biker rallies.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Ann was one of the then-few, well-known long-distance women bikers in the New York area biker community. The number of female bikers has swelled greatly since then. In 1996, Ferrar was recognized by the American Motorcyclist Association with the Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award for Hear Me Roar, which was the first book ever written on female motorcyclists, and which inspired many more women across the country to take control of the handlebars.
Ferrar still lives in the Greater New York tri-state region of the USA with her rescued Staffordshire bull terrier. At present, Ann is not actively riding motorcycles. Instead she is immersed in adventures of a different sort, finishing the biography African American Queen of the Road: Bessie Stringfield, A Woman's Journey Through Faith, Resilience and the Road. Plus, a Global Edition of Hear Me Roar, with female bikers on six continents participating, will be finished in the future, after the Bessie Stringfield book. Release dates for both books are TBA.
Freelance feature articles written by Ann Ferrar on motorcycling and Bessie Stringfield include:
"Windswept Freedom on Two Fast Wheels," New York Times, May 19, 2002
"The Biker Question: To Roar or Not to Roar," New York Times, July 25, 2003
"Where Neon Meets the Road," New York Times, May 14, 2004
"Riding the Road to a Cure: The Pony Express Ride for Breast Cancer Research," InTouch: The Good Health Guide to Cancer Prevention and Treatment, May 2002
Foreword to Sturgis Stories: Celebrating the People of the World's Largest Motorcycle Rally, a photo-essay book by Thomas Endres, PhD (MN: Kirk House Publishers, 2002)
"Bessie Stringfield, Inducted 2002," written by Ann Ferrar for the website of the American Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum (Pickerington, OH). The story was adapted by the author from her book Hear Me Roar, and was reissued as "Bessie Stringfield: Southern Distance Rider" for the National Motorcycle Museum, Anamosa IA. (Abridged versions of the story are still posted.)
"The Motorcycle Queen of Miami, Bessie Stringfield," American Motorcyclist Magazine, March 2003
"Bessie Stringfield: A Tribute to a Life-Long Harley Girl," American Iron Magazine, Special Daytona Issue, June 1993; reissued in CC Magazine, Jan. 1995
There are also many independently reported articles by journalists who have recognized Ann Ferrar's expertise on Bessie Stringfield, cited Ferrar's original works on Ms. Stringfield, and reviewed her book Hear Me Roar, discussing Bessie and the history of women bikers with the author. Here is a select list of independently reported articles including interviews with Ferrar, spanning a quarter-century. The author has been interviewed on-camera in news features and documentary films as well.
Stevenson, Jed: "Hear Me Roar: A Woman's Symphony on the Road," New York Times, July 28, 1996
MacKay, Liz: "It's a Woman's Sport—The Evolution of the Female Motorcyclist: Ann Ferrar, Hear Me Roar: Women, Motorcycles and the Rapture of the Road," Motorcycle Industry Magazine, July 1996
Shores, Lillian "Wills": Hear Me Roar: A Fabulous Odyssey," Motorcycle Times, July-August 1996
Sassone, J.R., "Celebrating All Women Bikers," Blackriders Magazine, Special Women's Issue, Fall 1996
American Motorcyclist Magazine: "Hear Me Roar Author Honored: Ann Ferrar Receives Brighter Image Award," AMA News, Jan. 1998
Bellino, Sunitha: "Women Bikers and the Thrill of the Ride," Times-Beacon Record Newspapers, April 16, 1998
Plueddeman, Charles: "A True Pioneer, Bessie Stringfield," HOG/Enthusiast Magazine, 2011, Issue 009
Logan, Ian: "Feature: Bessie Stringfield," Iron & Air Magazine, 2017, Issue 092
DeFares, Giselle: "The Black Woman Who Biked Across the US Alone During the 1930s Jim Crow Era," Vice.com, March 28, 2018
Lorchner, Jasmin: "Motorrad-Pionieren Bessie Stringfield, Rebellin auf Radern," Der Spiegel Online, August 22, 2019
Cunningham, Sharise: "Hidden History on Two Wheels: Bessie Stringfield," HowStuffWorks.com, Feb. 1, 2021
TELEVISION AND FILM APPEARANCES:
"Ann Ferrar and Hear Me Roar" television news featurette in All About Women series, CNN, summer 1996
Glory Road: The Legacy of the African American Motorcyclist: documentary film shown on PBS and The History Channel, 2008
American Biker: documentary film shown on PBS and The History Channel, 2009
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