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Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Biographyby Cynthia J. Davis
Synopses & Reviews
Charlotte Perkins Gilman offers the definitive account of this controversial writer and activist's long and eventful life. Charlotte Anna Perkins Stetson Gilman (18601935) launched her career as a lecturer, author, and reformer with the story for which she is best-known today, "The Yellow Wallpaper." She was hailed as the "brains" of the US women's movement, whose focus she sought to broaden from suffrage to economics. Her most influential sociological work criticized the competitive individualism of capitalists and Social Darwinists, and touted altruistic service as the prerequisite to both social progress and human evolution.
By 1900, Gilman had become an international celebrity, but had already faced a scandal over her divorce and "abandonment" of her child. As the years passed, her audience shrunk and grew more hostile, and she increasingly positioned herself in opposition to the society that in an earlier, more idealistic period she had seen as the better part of the self. In her final years, she unflinchingly faced breast cancer, her second husband's sudden death, and finally, her own carefully planned suicide— she "preferred chloroform to cancer" and cared little for a single life when its usefulness was over.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents new insights into the life of a remarkable woman whose public solutions often belied her private anxieties. It aims to recapture the drama and complexity of Gilman's life while presenting a comprehensive scholarly portrait.
Book News Annotation:
In this new biography of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Davis (English, University of South Carolina) provides new insights into the life of this controversial author, lecturer, and social reformer. Known best for her story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," Gilman was a leading light of the suffrage movement in the U.S., advocating that the movement broaden its focus to include the economic status and well-being of women. Incorporating much new biographical information, this well-written, scholarly book is likely to be the definitive account of Gilman's life for years to come. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A biography of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935): Beecher-descendent, zealous reformer, exhilarating lecturer, prolific writer, scandalous divorcee, "unnatural mother," international celebrity, and life-long controversialist.
About the Author
Cynthia J. Davis is Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. She is the author of Bodily and Narrative Forms: The Influence of Medicine on American Literature, 1845-1915 (Stanford, 2000) and co-editor of Charlotte Perkins Gilman And Her Contemporaries: Literary and Intellectual Contexts (2004) and Approaches to Teaching Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Herland (2003).
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