Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Marilyn French 1929-2009

Marilyn French, author of The Women's Room, has died at the age of 79. There are obituaries in The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph and by AG Sulzberger and Herbert Mitgang in The New York Times.
Her first and best-known novel, “The Women’s Room,” released in 1977, traces a submissive housewife’s journey of self-discovery following her divorce in the 1950s, describing the lives of Mira Ward and her friends in graduate school at Harvard as they grow into independent women. The book was partly informed by her own experience of leaving an unhappy marriage and helping her daughter deal with the aftermath of being raped. Women all over the world seized on the book, which sold more than 20 million copies and was translated into 20 languages.

Gloria Steinem, a close friend, compared the impact of the book on the discussion surrounding women’s rights to the one that Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” had had on racial equality 25 years earlier.

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