“One thing that makes art different from life is that in art things have a shape... it allows us to fix our emotions on events at the moment they occur, it permits a union of heart and mind and tongue and tear.” – Marilyn French
Born in Brooklyn on this date in 1929, French began her writing career in journalism while still in college, although she hoped to become a musician and composer. After marrying and having two children, she went into teaching for several years, earned both her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in English, and returned to writing. While she was an essayist and sometime short story writer, her biggest impact came through her novels.
French's first and best-known novel, The Women's Room, follows the details and lives of Mira and her friends in 1950s and 1960s America during the dawning and subsequent impact of militant radical feminism. The 1977 novel sold over 20 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 20 languages.
Shortly before her death in 2009, she was asked what advice she might give beginning writers, and she said to capitalize on things that might seem to get in your way, such as fear of failure. “Fear is a question,” she said. “What are you afraid of and why? Our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if only we explore them.”
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