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

Celebrating 4-20 in Red Deer

For years, 4-20 was a time to protest for the legalization of… Continue reading

Optimism remains for Red Deer hospital expansion

Red Deer’s incoming UCP MLAs both have been strong supporters of expansion

Sport of axe throwing growing in Red Deer

True North Axe Throwing wants sport to be ‘Canadian version of darts’

RDC cancels championship-winning golf program due to tight finances

Short season, small number of student golfers were also considerations

WATCH: An ‘Eggstemely Fun Easter’ at Bower Place in Red Deer

Bower Place mall made sure Red Deer families were able to have… Continue reading

Dozens hurt in collapse of deck during wedding celebration in Langley, B.C.

LANGLEY, B.C. — Police say dozens of people were injured, some critically,… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25.5 million jackpot… Continue reading

Uber driver charged in two sexual assault investigations: Toronto police

Toronto police say an Uber driver is facing sexual assault charges in… Continue reading

PEI Green party candidate Josh Underhay and son killed in canoeing accident

CHARLOTTETOWN — With only a few days before voters were to go… Continue reading

Egyptians vote on changes that would extend el-Sissi’s rule

CAIRO — Egyptians cast their ballots Saturday on the first of three… Continue reading

Ex-Marine arrested in North Korea embassy attack in Madrid

WASHINGTON — A man suspected of involvement in a mysterious dissident group’s… Continue reading

New bout of heavy fighting in Yemen kills dozens

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni officials say heavy fighting in Yemen’s southern Dhale… Continue reading

Most Read