2006 - James Tiptree, Jr.
Wow. What an incredible human being. Alice Sheldon was an eccentric iconoclast who was profoundly and confidently feminine with those who knew her in person, and who wrote under a man's name, James Tiptree, Jr. Under that name, she won awards and recognition for her boundary-pushing science fiction writing. She was innately talented, so why write as man? The author provides two possibilities. The first revolves around her difficult relationship with her mother, Mary:
"Mary encouraged her daughter, first as an artist and then as a writer. But what Alli needed to say was not within the scope even of Mary's wide world, and what she did not learn from Mary's example was that women could say anything. She learned that women had to be very careful in order to speak at all.
Besides, Mary took up a great deal of emotional and creative space, writing her daughter's story, literally in two children's books about the Bradley's African travels. It took radical subterfuge--taking on a new name, pretending to be a man, turning into a new person--for Alli to get that story back, to become someone else other than her mother's daughter." P. 5
I find the second option more likely, simply:
"She wanted to lose her gender partly because, like [Virginia] Woolf, she didn't want to write for half the world." P. 7
This was a wonderful biography of an incredibly fascinating woman. In my recommendations for similar reads, you'll find two other biographies as well as a link to blog put together by my friend Sandy. She profiled 100 women explorers from a time in history when women were expected to do anything but explore. Enjoy!
- Writing Roughshod
- Frida by Hayden Herrera and Frida by Frida by Frida Kahlo
- Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis de Veaux
Keep turning the page,