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The Literature of Prescription

The Author's Legacy

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Black and white photograph of a woman and man standing on a porch.


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Charlotte and her second husband,
George Houghton Gilman, 1909

In the years after the publication of
the story, Charlotte enjoyed great professional success and personal happiness. In 1900 she wed her cousin, George Houghton Gilman, and she was able to rebuild her relationship with her daughter. Charlotte became a well-known writer and was regularly invited to speak on the subject of women's rights and economic independence.

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daughter Katharine, ca. 1897


Black and white photograph of a woman and her 12-year-old daughter standing outside and leaning against an embankment.

Courtesy Schlesinger Library,
Radcliffe Institute,
Harvard University
Courtesy Schlesinger Library,
Radcliffe Institute,
Harvard University
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Black and white photograph of an older man and woman smiling at each other and sitting on stairs in front of a building.


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Charlotte and her second husband
playacting for the camera, ca. 1920

In 1932 Charlotte was diagnosed with inoperable
breast cancer, and the following year her beloved
husband George died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage.
She moved to California to be near her daughter and grandchildren, and to work on her autobiography.
When the disease progressed beyond relief, Charlotte
chose to take her own life. On August 17, 1935, at
the age of seventy-five, she committed suicide
by inhaling chloroform.

 

Courtesy Schlesinger Library,
Radcliffe Institute,
Harvard University

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Charlotte on a trip to campaign for
women's right to vote, ca. 1900

Charlotte left a vast legacy of influential
writings, including several books about
women and society, essays, poetry, a novel,
and The Forerunner, a monthly magazine
of her work published from November 1909
to December 1916. While some nineteenth-
century readers did appreciate the message
hidden in “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” the
story also resonated with many in the
women's movement of the 1970s. Since their rediscovery of the tale, the text has been republished many times, continuing to enthrall audiences more than a century after it
was written.


 
Black and white photograph of a woman standing in front of a train car.

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The first issue of The Forerunner, 1909

Color photograph of the front cover of The Forerunner.

Courtesy Schlesinger Library,
Radcliffe Institute,
Harvard University
Courtesy Library of Congress
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