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Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in 1860 in Hartford, Conn. Her traumatic childhood led to depression and to her eventual suicide. Gilman's father abandoned the family when she was a child and her mother, who was not an affectionate woman, recruited relatives to help raise her children. Among these relatives was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Due to her family situation, Gilman learned independence, but also became alienated from her many female relatives. Gilman married in 1884 and was soon diagnosed with depression. She was prescribed bed rest, which only seemed to aggravate her condition and she eventually divorced her husband, fearing that marriage was partly responsible for her depressed state. After this, Gilman became involved in feminist activities and the writing that made her a major figure in the women's movement. Books such as Women and Economics, written in 1898, are proof of her importance as a feminist. Here she states that only when women learn to be economically independent can true equality be achieved. Her fiction works, particularly The Yellow Wallpaper, are also written with feminist ideals. A frequent lecturer, she also founded the feminist magazine Forerunner in 1909. Gilman, suffering from cancer, chose to end her own life and committed suicide on August 17, 1935. More information about this fascinating figure can be found in her book The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography, published in 1935. (Bowker Author Biography) Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in 1860 in Hartford, Conn. Her traumatic childhood led to depression and to her eventual suicide. Gilman's father abandoned the family when she was a child and her mother, who was not an affectionate woman, recruited relatives to help raise her children. Among these relatives was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Due to her family situation, Gilman learned independence, but also became alienated from her many female relatives. Gilman married in 1884 and was soon diagnosed with depression. She was prescribed bed rest, which only seemed to aggravate her condition and she eventually divorced her husband, fearing that marriage was partly responsible for her depressed state. After this, Gilman became involved in feminist activities and the writing that made her a major figure in the women's movement. Books such as Women and Economics, written in 1898, are proof of her importance as a feminist. Here she states that only when women learn to be economically independent can true equality be achieved. Her fiction works, particularly The Yellow Wallpaper, are also written with feminist ideals. A frequent lecturer, she also founded the feminist magazine Forerunner in 1909. Gilman, suffering from cancer, chose to end her own life and committed suicide on August 17, 1935. More information about this fascinating figure can be found in her book The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography, published in 1935. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from The Yellow Wallpaper
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Short biography
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to Frederick Beecher Perkins and his wife Mary Fitch Westcott.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catharine Beecher, and Isabella Beecher Hooker, three of the most distinguished 19th-century American writers and women's advocates were her great-aunts of whom she was very proud. Charlotte herself became a noted writer, public speaker, economist, and women's rights and suffrage activist. In 1884, at the age of 24, she married Charles Walter Stetson, an aspiring artist, and the following year gave birth to their daughter. Shortly after the birth, Charlotte suffered a serious bout of what today would be diagnosed as post-partum depression. Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," published in 1892. She also wrote a famous treatise, Women and Economics (1898), in which she said women could never be truly independent until they first had economic freedom. This theme was explored through her lectures, her more than 1,000 nonfiction publications, and her fiction. In 1900, Gilman remarried to her first cousin, George Houghton Gilman. Over the next 25 years, Charlotte also ran her own magazine, The Forerunner, in which many of her stories appeared. An advocate of euthanasia, Gilman ended her life at the age of 75 with an overdose of chloroform. Her work fell into obscurity until it was revived by the women’s movement in the 1960s. In 1994, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
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