Extraordinary Women of the Fifties: The Beat Women

30 Oct

“Moreover, I was puzzled to read in her introduction how ‘our idea’ of the Fifties is one of a decade reviled for being full of dull and docile women. This does a disservice to so much writing on the “other” Fifties, from Elizabeth Wilson on lesbianism and Angela McRobbie on girls’ subcultures to Deborah Philips and Alison Light on women and fiction,” writes Sheila Rowbotham in “Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women Of The Fifties, by Rachel Cooke, review” for The Telegraph.

Missing from both lists were the women associated with the Beat Generation. Here were women who defied the stereotype of being “dull and docile.” They were renting apartments on their own at a time when women generally lived with their parents until they got married. They were pursuing higher education. They were creating their own innovative, beautiful works.

Much of modern discourse surrounding the Beat Generation has to do with its masculinity and misogyny. Those are important discussions to have. However, I think it does a great disservice to the many talented female writers who were associated with this literary grouping. These weren’t just muses in black stockings. They were and continue to be powerful writers.

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!


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