THE GRANDNIECE of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. After the birth of her daughter, she experienced a severe depression lasting several years. She entered a sanitarium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a controversial rest cure that demanded no physical activity and no intellectual stimulation. One month later she returned home, and soon after suffered a nervous breakdown. In 1888, Gilman left her husband and moved to California, where she had a swift recovery from her depression.

In the early 1890s, she began writing and lecturing. Her most famous work, The Yellow Wallpaper(1892), told the story of a woman who suffers a mental breakdown after the birth of her child. The story has been interpreted commonly as either a semi-autobiographical account ...

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