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Erasure of Feminist History, Erasure of Feminist Leaders, Erasure of Women's Lives, Femicide, Feminism, Giants, Oppression of Women Journalists, Rape and Sexual Assault, Rural Womyn, Women Farming, Women's Bodies, Women's History

The Disappearance of Gertude Beasley

“Gertrude Beasley’s memoir of growing up dirt poor in and around the Bible Belt town of Abilene, My First Thirty Years, was released in 1925 by Contact Press in Paris. That’s the same press that published James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. H.L. Mencken hailed Beasley’s book as one of the best coming-of-age books ever …

“Despite these accolades, her memoir is largely unknown. Its violent and sexually deviant material caused it to be banned in Britain, where Beasley was living at the time. Most copies were destroyed by Scotland Yard and U.S. Customs. The few that made it to Texas were mostly yanked off shelves by the Texas Rangers, probably on the orders of prominent Texans maligned in her book. Then the author vanished. She was 35.

“My First Thirty Years was Beasley’s only work, but it stands the test of time. In his letter, McMurtry writes that her memoir “is one of the finest Texas books of its era; in my view, the finest.” On the letter’s envelope is a penciled question scribbled by my mother: “Cut the pages?” The originals of Beasley’s book were printed in hand-pressed style, so my mother had to slice the leaves open to discover the reason Beasley was one of the first female American writers to be banned. ‘Thirty years ago,’ it begins, ‘I lay in the womb of a woman, conceived in a sexual act of rape, being carried during the prenatal period by an unwilling and rebellious mother, finally bursting from the womb only to be tormented in a family whose members I despised or pitied.’”

Read the rest here, thanks to Max Dashu, Suppressed History Archives blog on Facebook



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