While she first intended to major in English, taking a history seminar during her first semester at Wooster ignited a passion for the discipline that made Sophie Perinot ’86 the first member of her graduating class to declare a history major. She found herself particularly drawn to women’s history and focused on women in both her junior and senior Independent Study projects, with her senior I.S. being a contemporary American social history on women, work, and World War II. She went directly to law school after graduating from Wooster, hoping to achieve her longtime goal of eventually becoming a senator. After law school, she landed a job as an anti-trust litigator at a large powerhouse firm in Washington, D.C.
Though Perinot excelled as a lawyer and litigator, she didn’t enjoy it. After many years in law, she made the difficult decision to leave her career. Perinot decided that she needed to reinvent herself and embraced her interest in storytelling, something that had always been an important part of her life. “I will always be a writer because I always have been and that I can’t control,” Perinot said. She also returned to her fascination with history that had been sparked at Wooster and began to write historical fiction novels, of which she now has four.
Perinot credits her liberal arts education with giving her the ability to be flexible in her work. At Wooster, she learned how important it is “to express yourself well orally and in writing so no matter where the world goes you have the critical thinking and expression skills that you need to follow it,” something which she sees as “getting overlooked in this era of everybody wanting job training.” Not only did her time at the College prepare her with the extensive research and writing skills she needed to write historical fiction professionally, but it also gave her the motivation to do so. “Wooster really emboldened me to think about pursuing passions and I would say that’s what I’m doing now,” she said.
Perinot’s most recent book, Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution’s Movement, of which she is one of six authors, tells the largely unsung story of the women involved in the French Revolution, one in which she sees parallels to today’s female political activism. Though all of her books are works of historical fiction, Perinot is deeply interested in their connection to the present day. “I write stories set in the past, but I try to make them about issues, emotions, and relationships that are universal,” she said. Perinot wants her novels to appeal to a general audience in order to “make people interested in history and care about history and look further into history,” something she herself was so inspired to do in her very first semester at Wooster.