A Biography of Her Own


Woolf Imagine going into a bookstore, a library or reading a Kindle, an electronic book or to look and for other research to find your favorite women writers’ biographies or critical works. You’ll only imagine it because there is a dearth of their life stories and critical analysis. And that’s even when they are great authors, award-winning authors, even Pulitzer-prize winners and Nobel Peace Prize winners, such as Toni Morrison. Of course, I have to qualify two things: Toni does have annals of documents about her writing and critical works, but the most written about woman is Jane Austin who has many biographies and an infinite number of critical works, which are worthwhile reading. When Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One’s Own, she pointed out that men writers have ample reading materials about them. I was perturbed about this exclusion and hadn’t thought much about it until I had the idea about writing poems on African-American women poets. Was I surprised? Yes, indeed. Now women writers are traveling on a smoother terrain with She Writes: A Room of Her Own Just Got Bigger, but they still need biographies of their own. The list of women writers who have biographies written about them include Zora Neale Hurston, author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, still a prominent seller, who has at least three though she was neglected in her day to preferred black men writers who outwardly, negatively criticized her work. Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, created a literary landscape before a dizzily but an exuberant publishing phenomenon for Hurston occurred. Most, if not all, of Hurston’s work has been republished, including her play, astrological findings on “colored people” that she wrote about mostly in stories. Other women blessed enough to have biographies include: novelist Charlotte Bronte, poets – Syvlia Plath, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and several others. Why are these critical works important? It’s not just because men writers have more than their share or because they were geniuses compared to women. Men have mostly written about their own gender. Woolf said: “I would sooner have (a woman’s) true history as the hundred and fiftieth life of Napoleon or a seventieth study of Keats and his use of Miltonic inversion which old Professor Z and his like are now inditing,” said Woolf. Remembering is one of the major tenets of womanism, and this remembering is a valuable way of educating readers. A biography puts a face on a writer’s life and work. Readers have a right to look beyond women writers’ printed words of novels, poems, plays, essays. Biographies illuminate the strengths, struggles, and flaws of women and men. What’s the difficulty? Exclusion of biographical works of women present a simple observation. Women and men who write about women will have to dig longer and deeper because of the habitual, exclusionary past. I look forward to that day because I love to read biographies of writers, especially women, and need these extraordinary efforts to feed my soul, to further educate myself, and to write, understand, and unclothed them in a literary legacy. Simply put: I want facts. I love facts.

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