In Memorium: Tillie Olsen

Feminist author Tillie Olsen has died at the age of 94. During the last several years, I have been reading everything I can about women writing about writing. Olsen’s “Silences” perhaps explains better than anything else I have ever read the immense odds that women writers have faced throughout history. Indeed, her own life and writing career exemplify the all too common scenario. As Margaret Atwood put it in her review of “Silences”,

“She did not write for a very simple reason: A day has 24 hours. For 20 years she had no time, no energy and none of the money that would have bought both.”

Despite that, Olsen’s work has been enormously influential. We owe her a great debt of gratitude. It is truly our loss that the circumstances of her life did not allow her more time for her work as a writer.


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