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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Shaped By Others' Demands

 “Like their personal lives, women's history is fragmented, interrupted; a shadow history of human beings whose existence has been shaped by the efforts and the demands of others.” – Elizabeth Janeway


Born in Brooklyn, NY, on this date in 1913, Janeway was both an author and book critic whose early novels focused on family and the pressures placed on women and whose later works became hallmarks of the feminist movement.  Between the publication of her first novel The Walsh Girls in 1943 and her final one Improper Behavior in 1987, she also became one of America’s leading lights in the publishing world.

Janeway served as a judge for the National Book Awards in 1955 and for the Pulitzer Prize in Literature 1971. She was an executive of International PEN and president of The Author’s Guild, addressing lawmakers about copyright protection and other matters.   At its 1981 commencement ceremonies, her alma mater Barnard College awarded Janeway its highest honor, the Barnard Medal of Distinction.  Her son Michael became a renowned journalist, writing and editing for the Boston Globe and serving as Dean for the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern.


“Great writers,” Janeway said shortly before her death in 2005, “leave us not just their works, but a way of looking at things.”

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