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Exhibition: The Author’s Life

Founded a year before Charlotte enrolled, the Rhode Island School of Design offered a place for her to hone her creativity. Women played a prominent role at the school. Many of the founders, leaders, and financial supporters were women.

  • Charlotte Perkins at the age of 14, 1874

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    Charlotte Anna Perkins was born on July 3, 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut. Soon after her birth, her father Frederick left the family. Charlotte, her mother Mary, and brother Thomas were forced to move every year, as they struggled to manage on the limited funds her father provided while the children were growing up. Following the example of her mother’s determination to cope with these circumstances, Charlotte sought independence early in life.

  • Charlotte’s home while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, 1870s

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    Charlotte was a creative child and began writing and drawing at an early age. In 1878, she enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design to study art.

  • Rhode Island School of Design, 1890s

    Courtesy Rhode Island School of Design Archives

    Founded a year before Charlotte enrolled, the Rhode Island School of Design offered a place for her to hone her creativity. Women played a prominent role at the school. Many of the founders, leaders, and financial supporters were women.

  • Charles Walter Stetson, Charlotte’s first husband, 1880

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    When Charlotte was 21 years old, she met the artist Walter Stetson. Although she initially rebuffed his proposal, they married in 1884.

  • Charlotte’s daughter, Katharine Stetson, 1887

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    A year later, the couple had a daughter, Katharine Beecher Stetson. After her birth, Charlotte began to experience episodes of depression. She resented the narrow confines of married life and motherhood, and like many other women of her era, longed for greater intellectual and creative fulfillment. Her husband, however, insisted on a more traditional marriage, and she became increasingly despondent.

  • “To the Young Wife,” In This Our World, Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1893

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    In later years, Charlotte published a collection of her poems, which offer a window into her thoughts on women’s place in society.

    In “To the Young Wife,” she questioned whether women could find fulfillment as dutiful housewives, living within societal strictures.

  • “The Mother’s Charge,” In This Our World, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1893

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

  • Charlotte Perkins at the age of 14, 1874

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    Charlotte Anna Perkins was born on July 3, 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut. Soon after her birth, her father Frederick left the family. Charlotte, her mother Mary, and brother Thomas were forced to move every year, as they struggled to manage on the limited funds her father provided while the children were growing up. Following the example of her mother’s determination to cope with these circumstances, Charlotte sought independence early in life.

  • Charlotte’s home while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, 1870s

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    Charlotte was a creative child and began writing and drawing at an early age. In 1878, she enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design to study art.

    Rhode Island School of Design, 1890s

    Courtesy Rhode Island School of Design Archives

    Founded a year before Charlotte enrolled, the Rhode Island School of Design offered a place for her to hone her creativity. Women played a prominent role at the school. Many of the founders, leaders, and financial supporters were women.

  • Charles Walter Stetson, Charlotte’s first husband, 1880

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    When Charlotte was 21 years old, she met the artist Walter Stetson. Although she initially rebuffed his proposal, they married in 1884.

  • Charlotte’s daughter, Katharine Stetson, 1887

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    A year later, the couple had a daughter, Katharine Beecher Stetson. After her birth, Charlotte began to experience episodes of depression. She resented the narrow confines of married life and motherhood, and like many other women of her era, longed for greater intellectual and creative fulfillment. Her husband, however, insisted on a more traditional marriage, and she became increasingly despondent.

  • “To the Young Wife,” In This Our World, Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1893

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

    In later years, Charlotte published a collection of her poems, which offer a window into her thoughts on women’s place in society.

    In “To the Young Wife,” she questioned whether women could find fulfillment as dutiful housewives, living within societal strictures.

    “The Mother’s Charge,” In This Our World, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1893

    Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Founded a year before Charlotte enrolled, the Rhode Island School of Design offered a place for her to hone her creativity. Women played a prominent role at the school. Many of the founders, leaders, and financial supporters were women.