Tillie Olsen

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Standard Name: Olsen, Tillie
Birth Name: Tybile Lerner
Self-constructed Name: Tillie
Pseudonym: Tillie the Toiler
Self-constructed Name: Matilda
Self-constructed Name: Theresa Landale
Self-constructed Name: Theta Larimore
Self-constructed Name: Amy
Married Name: Tillie Goldfarb
Married Name: Tillie Olsen
Pseudonym: Emily Hulot Olsen
Nickname: The Squeakeress
TO , one of the leading lights of the twentieth-century feminist movement in the USA, prided herself on being a proletarian writer. She published very few books: a short-story volume, a novel, a book of essays, jottings and quotations about the silencing of writers, and an anthology on mothers and daughters. It is unusual for such a slim output to have such a profound effect on a generation of readers. TO was prolific, though, in poetry and political (pro-Communist) journalism and speeches during the 1930s and much later in essays and lectures, many of them about forgotten women writers.
Photograph of Tillie Olsen, shown from the shoulders up, wearing a black turtleneck and a necklace of small red, blue, and white beads. Her hair is short, grey, and sticking straight up from her head.
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Connections

Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Cultural formation Rebecca Harding Davis
RHD 's family, American with roots mainly in Ireland, was comfortably situated. Her father held positions of local influence, and she and her husband made themselves well off by years of hard work. Her formative...
Friends, Associates Anne Sexton
AS made many friends among her fellow poets: Kumin , Soter , William DeWitt Snodgrass , Sylvia Plath (whose death affected her deeply), George Starbuck and James Wright (who were also her lovers), and Anthony Hecht
Friends, Associates Alice Walker
This job cemented her friendship with Gloria Steinem . Later, after her divorce, AW and June Jordan started The Sisterhood, a group of black women, artists of one kind of another, who met regularly for...
Literary responses Rebecca Harding Davis
After RHD 's death, her fiction fell out of favour with scholars and was unknown to readers until it was revived in 1972 by feminist literary critic Tillie Olsen . Olsen had read the story...
Literary responses Rebecca Harding Davis
Including this work in Life in the Iron Mills; or, the Korl Woman, Tillie Olsen remarked that [a]side from any light or dark that it casts on factors in [RHD 's] breakdown, The...
Literary responses Rebecca Harding Davis
In its several reprints this book was entitled Life in the Iron Mills and Other Stories. Olsen wrote that from RHD 's work her epoch looks through with its thwarted life, its mighty hungers...
Literary responses Mary Oxlie
MO has had an almost uniformly enthusiastic press. Her poem was praised by David Masson , who published a biography of Drummond in 1873, and by the late twentieth-century scholar Robert H. Macdonald. Tillie Olsen
Literary responses Anne Sexton
Elizabeth Bishop wrote to Robert Lowell that these poems were good, in spots only, less fully realised than his on a similar subject-matter. I feel I know too much about her . . ....
Literary responses Willa Cather
This volume was badly received. Cather sent a copy to Henry James , whom at this date she much admired. As Tillie Olsen later pointed out indignantly, he never replied. To an enquiry from a...
Literary responses Rebecca Harding Davis
Feminist writer and scholar Tillie Olsen revived RHD 's reputation with the publication of Life in the Iron Mills; or, the Korl Woman. This included Life in the Iron-Mills, The Wife's Story and Anne.
Reid, Panthea. Tillie Olsen: One Woman, Many Riddles. Rutgers University Press, 2010.
257
OCLC WorldCat.
Davis, Rebecca Harding. “Biographical Introduction”. Life in the Iron Mills; or, the Korl Woman, edited by Tillie Olsen, The Feminist Press, 1972.
7
politics Rebecca Harding Davis
Critics are still divided on RHD 's attitude towards suffrage. Jean Pfaelzer explains: Although Davis was concerned about abolition, temperance reform, divorce law, and prostitution, it appears that she never joined groups or walked in...
Publishing Anne Sexton
Her first story to reach print was Dancing the Jig, about the relationship of daughter to mother (in which she used her experience as a daughter). It appeared in 1960 in New World Writing...
Reception Christina Stead
In 1978 Tillie Olsen called this the definitive novel on world banking.
Olsen, Tillie. Silences. Virago, 1980.
243
Reception Sojourner Truth
Tillie Olsen in 1978 named ST as one of the mosts eloquent users of spoken works in her time.
Olsen, Tillie. Silences. Virago, 1980.
184
During the 1990s and early twenty-first century a series of important new studies of ST
Textual Features Olive Schreiner
Tillie Olsen in 1978 pointed out a striking anticipation here of Woolf 's A Room of One's Own: what of the possible Shakespeares we might have had who passed their life from youth upward...

Timeline

1934
US feminist and writer Agnes Smedley , a supporter of Communist forces in China, published China's Red Army Marches, an account of the organization and growth of the Red Army 's campaign against the Kuomintang.