Carolyn Heilbrun, “Writing A Woman’s Life”

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I just re-read this, and was startled both by how well written it is (even better than I remembered), and by how fresh the observations and analysis remain. Published in 1989, this is a terrific book, about which the NYT Review of Books said:

Drawing on the experience of celebrated women, from George Sand and Virginia Woolf to Dorothy Sayers and Adrienne Rich, Heilbrun examines the struggle these writers undertook when their drives made it impossible for them to follow the traditional “male” script for a woman’s life. Refreshing and insightful, this is an homage to brave women past and present, and an invitation to all women to write their own scripts, whatever they may be.

A Heilbrun bibliography is accessible here via the Scholar & Feminist Online; as noted here, the entire edition of the Spring 2006 issue of SFO was about Heilbrun. A 1992 NYT interview with Heilbrun, “Rage in a Tenured Position,” describes her decision to take early retirement from her faculty job at Columbia University. A short bio from 2000 is here. Her essay, “Men Where The Only Models I Had” appeared in the Chron in 2001. An obituary that appeared in the Guardian in 2003 is here.

–Ann Bartow

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