Famous for her short fiction—most notably “The Yellow Wallpaper”—Charlotte Perkins Gilman also produced a vast body of nonfiction in tandem with her work as a Progressive-era feminist reformer. Rooted in groundbreaking research on Gilman’s extensive correspondence, publications, and speeches, this keenly argued intellectual biography reconstructs her controversial output and the heady context in which she produced it.
Judith Allen provides the first comprehensive assessment of Gilman’s complicated feminism by exploring the renowned writer’s theories of sexuality and evolutionary analyses of androcentric—or male-dominated—culture. These ideas, Allen shows, informed Gilman’s many contributions to the suffrage movement, the fight to abolish regulated prostitution, and efforts to legalize birth control. Restoring a previously overlooked public intellectual to her preeminent place in Progressive-era politics and the history of feminism at home and abroad, Allen’s landmark study provides the fullest account available of Gilman’s consequential life and profoundly influential work.