Feminist author Marilyn French died yesterday. NYT obituary here.
… Marilyn French was born on November 21 1929 in Brooklyn, New York, the elder of two daughters of an engineer. Her mother, a clerk in a department store, refused to allow her husband to beat the children, and Marilyn later recalled: “From this we were taught never to bow to authority.” By the age of 10 she was writing poems and short stories.
In 1950, before completing her degree in Philosophy and English Literature at Hofstra College, New York, she married Robert French, whom she put through law school by working at “a series of paralysing office jobs”, and by 1953 she was the mother of a son and a daughter.
Four years later Marilyn French read The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, which included a chapter about women who called themselves writers but never wrote anything. She began submitting stories to publishers, but without success. In the early 1960s she returned to Hofstra to take an MA and to teach English.
Throughout this period her husband had been trying to obstruct her ambitions, and in 1967 they divorced. Marilyn French went to Harvard, and her thesis on James Joyce’s Ulysses was later published to some acclaim; this proved the encouragement she needed, and she redoubled her efforts to make a career as a writer. Another catalyst was the rape of her daughter in 1971. …
You can watch an interview with French here.