Feminist penned landmark novel The Women’s Room

Marilyn French, the writer and feminist whose novel The Women’s Room sold more than 20 million copies and transformed her into a leading figure in the women’s movement, has died at 79.

Marilyn French

NEW YORK — Marilyn French, the writer and feminist whose novel The Women’s Room sold more than 20 million copies and transformed her into a leading figure in the women’s movement, has died at 79.

French died of heart failure Saturday at a Manhattan hospital, said Carol Jenkins, a friend and president of New York’s Women’s Media Center.

Her 1977 first novel, The Women’s Room transformed the college teacher into a feminist leader, whose aim was “to change the entire social and economic structure of Western civilization, to make it a feminist world,” she once said.

The landmark novel, which was translated into 20 languages, details the journey to independence of a 1950s housewife who gets divorced and goes to graduate school.

The book mirrored aspects of French’s own life experiences, including the rape of her daughter.

She was called anti-male after a character in the novel says: “All men are rapists, and that’s all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes.”

“Those words came from a character, and she was not a man-hater, and never said that in her personal life,” Jenkins said. “But she wanted men to accept their part in the domination of women.”

Still, the novel “connected with millions of women who had no way before of claiming their anger and discontent,” Jenkins said.

The male subjugation of women is the main theme of French’s novels, essays, literary criticism and her four-volume, nonfictional From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women.

A Brooklyn native, French graduated from Long Island’s Hofstra University with a master’s degree, studying philosophy and English literature. She taught there in the 1960s.

After her divorce, she earned a doctorate from Harvard and was an English professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

A smoker, she survived a battle with esophageal cancer in 1992 that included a 10-day coma she described in Season in Hell: A Memoir.

Her last novel is to be published this fall and she was also working on a memoir.

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month