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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

b. 1860, Hartford, Connecticut; d. 1935, Pasadena, California

“There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. As well speak of a female liver.”

—Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Women and Economics, 149

Charlotte Perkins Gilman refused the label feminist and instead embraced the term humanist, believing it important to promote justice for all. She was many things in her lifetime—an economist, a lecturer, a commercial artist, and an early theorist of the feminist movement—but she is best known for her literary works. “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a short story which first appeared in New England Magazine in January 1892, was loosely based on Gilman’s own experiences as a young mother suffering from a bout of depression; Gilman’s discussions with her psychiatrist, in which he had recommended that she “live as domestic a life as possible” and “never touch a pen, brush or pencil as long as you live,” are woven into the story. Her utopian novel Herland (1915) presents a society free of patriarchal oppression. Many of her literary works originally appeared in The Forerunner, which Gilman published and edited from 1907 to 1916.