Not long after returning from her adventure, which earned intense media coverage and made Londonderry a celebrated symbol of the women's movement, she resumed a life of obscurity. Even her death notice in 1947 failed to note her storied journey. Now, a Needham writer and descendant of Londonderry is working with two Washington, D.C., filmmakers to rescue her legacy from history's dustbin. Peter Zheutlin, a freelance writer and Londonderry's great- grandnephew, researched her life for a book set for publication next year by Citadel Press, and is a consultant for a planned documentary on her exploits.
To raise money for the movie, Zheutlin and filmmakers Gillian Klempner and Meghan Shea are taking a cue from Londonderry a keen marketer with a decidedly modern sense of celebrity culture who financed her trip by plastering her bike and herself with advertising, even adopting the name of a major sponsor, a New Hampshire water company. Starting Saturday, they are re-creating the first leg of her ride Beacon Hill to Manhattan along Route 1 right down to the bloomers (except for Zheutlin, that is). They hope the publicity draws sponsors for their documentary, tentatively called "The New Woman: [Annie Cohen Kopchovsky] `Londonderry' Kopchovsky."
Londonderry rode from New York to Chicago, then doubled back and took a steamship to France, where her journey made headlines and large crowds lined the streets to meet her. From there, she hopped a liner through the Mediterranean Sea and across the Indian Ocean, stopping to tour ports on her bike. Since she made it from Marseilles to Japan in six weeks, Zheutlin admits that her claim of riding around the world was spurious at best.