A well-known feminist at the turn of the twentieth century, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote and published thousands of works in her lifetime, including essays, novels, short stories, poems, nonfiction books, and numerous newspaper and journal articles. Born into the prominent Beecher family as Charlotte Anna Perkins, the author experienced a tumultuous childhood. Her father, Fredrick Beecher Perkins, abandoned the family leaving them impoverished. She moved so often as a child that her formal schooling totaled a mere four years. Despite these setbacks, Gilman managed to educate herself through reading and even sent herself to the Rhode Island School of Design for several years.
As an author, Gilman wrote prolifically about her personal interests including: gender equality, social work for the advancement of humanity, specialized labor practices, education reform, and social commentary. Her 1898 nonfiction book Women and Economics gained Gilman national and international acclaim. It was translated into several languages and even served as a textbook at Vassar College for a time. In her lifetime, Gilman traveled throughout America and Europe lecturing on women’s rights and social reform. In 1935, Charlotte Perkins Gilman committed suicide after suffering years with inoperable cancer. Her autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, was published posthumously that same year. Many of Gilman’s writings are studied today as important examples of early feminist theory. The 1991 collection Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Nonfiction Reader, edited by Larry Ceplair, includes an excellent sampling of her nonfiction works. (Rebecca Lowney)
The true and reasonable dress means perfect ease and health and beauty of body, with the freedom of motion and increase of power and skill resultant therefrom.
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Quotidiana is an online anthology of "classical" essays, from antiquity to the early twentieth century. All essays and images are in the public domain. Commentaries are copyrighted, but may be used with proper attribution. Special thanks to the BYU College of Humanities and English Department for funding, and to Joey Franklin and Lara Burton, for tireless research assisting.