Sunday, December 7, 2008

Great Magazine Women: Chapter Three: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (July 3, 1860 – August 17, 1935) was a prominent American novelist, writer of short stories, poetry and non-fiction and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper", which she wrote after a severe bout of post-partum depression. This rebellion against the standard method of treatment at the time, the "rest cure" of Doctor Silas Weir Mitchell forever changed the way women were looked upon and treated. This story first appeared in the May 1892 issue of New England Magazine. Here is an image of the quite rare copy I recently obtained (its importance unbeknownst to the seller) in the original wrappers for a fraction of its value.

Perkins went on to edit and publish the important feminist journal The Forerunner. The following is fron the Literary Encyclopedia:

"In print from 1909 to 1916, The Forerunner was self-published by Charlotte Perkins Gilman after American author and editor Theodore Dreiser advised her to “consider more what the editors want” since her social reform writing did not appeal to the masses. Rejecting Dreiser's advice, Gilman instead decided to write what she pleased by publishing her own twenty-eight-page monthly magazine. Written entirely by Gilman, The Forerunner sold for ten cents an issue or a dollar a year and featured short fiction, serialized novels, essays, articles, book reviews, and poems. At its apex, The Forerunner had nearly 1,500 subscribers from all of the United States and from Europe, India, and Australia. The cost of publishing The Forerunner, however, became prohibitive, and the magazine was discontinued at the end of 1916."
The Forerunner has recently been reprinted and these copies are available on eBay. Here is my original copy.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman is one of the ten leading feminists of the twentieth century, largely due to the work she published in magazines.

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