Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Poems Background

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Poems Background

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an American feminist writer who published a large amount of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1860 to a prominent family. At a young age, however, Gilman's father abandoned his family, leaving them in a dire financial situation. In the absence of her father, Gilman was raised by extended family, including such notable figures as her great-aunt Isabelle Beecher Hooker, a renowned activist in the suffragist movement. This presence had an indelible impact on the young Gilman.

Gilman received a formal education until the age of 15, at which point she began supporting herself through a variety of jobs, while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. She married painter Charles Walter Stetson in 1884. The two had a child in 1885 though the couple separated shortly after. Gilman then settled in Pasadena, California, with her daughter. There she became involved in a variety of social causes, most of which supported feminist causes. She published her book, Art Gems for the Home and Fireside, in 1888 though it did not receive critical or commercial attention.

Gilman's artistic first breakthrough occurred in 1890. That year alone, she published a novella, multiple poems and essays, and her most famous short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." She followed up with the largely successful collection of poetry, In This Our World, in 1893. The same year, she returned to the East Coast, where she married her first cousin. The two remained married until his death in 1934. Throughout the remainder of her life, Gilman continued to published novels, short stories, poetry, and essays, though mainly earned a living delivering speeches for social causes. After being diagnosed with incurable breast cancer, Gilman ended her life on August 17th, 1835.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's In This Our World & Uncollected Poems was published in 2012. It includes the entirety of her first poetry collection alongside 79 previously unpublished works. The book includes a biographical introduction as well as analysis provided by editors Gary Scharnhorst and Denise D. Knight.

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