First, published in 1978, Tulle Olsen's 'Silences' revolutionised literary studies and inspired an explosion of new creative voices. By exploring the social and ecomic conditions that make creativity possible, Olsen sheds new light into the gaps in the literary landscape and the can. She reveals that working-class people, people of colour, and all women have in fact always written -- though their work has been officially igred -- and she examines the forces they struggled against in order to create, forces that led in many cases to premature silence. With fascinating testimony from authors' diaries and letters, Olsen takes us inside the artistic process, examining the effects of poverty, family duties (especially motherhood), political and religious censorship, and rigid literary rms on writers ranging from Thomas Hardy and Herman Melville to Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath. For those disadvantaged by gender, class, or race, these obstacles loom even larger. In particular, Olsen makes the case that women writers have faced crushing odds, their talents underestimated, their achievements igred, the themes of their writing scorned, their very attempt to write condemned as a breach of family duty -- and of feminine nature. And yet, as she shows, they have written. This special 25th anniversary edition includes an introduction tracing the impact of Silences on women's studies, women's writing, and women's publishing. It also provides a key document of Olsen's work: the famous reading lists that she assembled from her years of research in public libraries.
Activist and author Tillie Olsen is best known for her prize-winning fiction Tell Me a Riddle and Yonnondio: From the Thirties. She taught at MIT, Stanford, and Amherst. Olsen is an recipient of an Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Literature from the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters.