Charlotte Perkins Gilman's proto-feminist horror novella The Yellow Wallpaper is about to be re-released, prompting the Telegraph's Justine Picardie to examine her painful and sometimes inspiring life.
Deprived of parental affection as a child, Gilman sank into postpartum depression after her daughter Katharine was born. The famous "nerve specialist" Weir Mitchell had this prescription: "Live as domestic a life as possible … And never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live." She disobeyed, separating from her husband and moving to California with Katharine. Though she embarked on a successful career, she was unhappy, and eventually sent Katharine back to live with her father. She may not have been a model for a joyful feminist life, and she's been accused of racism, but Picardie asks that we remember her "as the writer of The Yellow Wallpaper – and the survivor who unlocked the door of the madwoman in the attic, and lived to tell the tale." [Telegraph]