Though the classic lesbian novels surveyed here – published from the early through mid-twentieth century – seemed truly groundbreaking in their time, they certainly weren’t the first of this genre of literature. From the poetry of Sappho to the secret diaries of Anne Lister to queer re-evaluations of many classic women authors, the books listed here had plenty of forerunners.
The difference? Though some were more forthright than others, there was less of the thinly veiled allusions, and more overt same-sex love and romance. Though by no means the only fine examples of the genre, the six novels presented here were hugely impactful. Read More→
Matilda Joslyn Gage was born in 1826 in Cicero, New York, near Syracuse. The important role she played in the women’s suffrage movement has been marginalized, overshadowed by figures like Susan B. Anthony and Eliabeth Cady Stanton.
“All of the crimes which I was not guilty of rushed through my mind,” Gage wrote later, “but I failed to remember that I was a born criminal—a woman.” Her crime: registering to vote. The verdict: guilty as charged.
Angelica Shirley Carpenter has a new picture book out for grades 2 – 6: The Voice of Liberty, with illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham, published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press (2020). The book tells how three suffragists, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Lillie Devereux Blake, and Lillie’s daughter, Katherine “Katie” Devereux Blake, led a protest at the 1886 dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Read More→
Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler are a duo of books intended to have become a trilogy, though the third never came to be. Now that we inhabit the time in which the novels actually take place, they’re more eerily prescient than ever.
When Parable of Sower (1993) begins, Lauren Olamina is a young Black woman just emerging from her teens, navigating the apocalyptic world of Los Angeles in the 2020s. A fight — and flight — for survival leads to her create a new faith called Earthseed, in hopes of repairing the world.
We find Lauren once again at the center of Parable of the Talents, now a young mother and still fighting to salvage humanity with Earthseed, the new faith she founded. Now she’s battling violent bigots and religious fanatics.
It’s possible that Octavia E. Butler’s speculative, dystopian, and science fiction novels and short stories have been over-described as “prescient.” But there’s hardly a better word for many of her major works, and in tandem with her keen observance of human nature, they’ve transcended genre to become classic literature.
In her New York Times obituary, Butler was described as “an internationally acclaimed science fiction writer whose evocative, often troubling novels explore far-reaching issues of race, sex, power, and ultimately, what it meant to be human.” Read More→