Telling Women's Lives: The New Biography

Linda Wagner-Martin, Author
Linda Wagner-Martin, Author Rutgers University Press $22.95 (201p) ISBN 978-0-8135-2092-6
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
Paperback - 201 pages - 978-0-8135-2375-0
Ebook - 220 pages - 978-0-585-02027-3
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Wagner-Martin, who has written biographies of several women, including Sylvia Plath, here presents a lively and perceptive historical overview of women's biography as a genre. Early studies of women authored by men, such as Sir Leslie Stephen's monograph on George Eliot, suffered, she argues, from a bias that required biographers to force their subjects into a ``good woman'' mold. This, Wagner-Martin claims, led to serious distortion--as did the male tendency to view women primarily in relation to their husbands or fathers. The rise of feminism in the 1960s led to growing numbers of women writing about other women incisively, as exemplified by Blanche Wiesen Cook's Eleanor Roosevelt and by Elizabeth Frank's Pulitzer Prize-winning Louise Bogan . Discussing both serious and popular biography and autobiography, Wagner-Martin analyzes the difficulties involved in reconstructing a life. Illustrations not seen by PW. (July)
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