Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Lived:July 3, 1860—August 17, 1935 (aged 75)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a lecturer, writer, economist and leading theorist of the women’s movement in the United States.

Gilman was born on July 3, 1860, in Hartford, Connecticut. Her paternal great-grandfather was Calvinist preacher Dr. Lyman Beecher and her great-aunts were novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, women's education advocate Catherine Beecher, and suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker.

Gilman's father abandoned the family, leaving them in poverty. Although Gilman received little formal education, she did attend the Rhode Island School of Design for two years. In 1884 she married artist Charles W. Stetson, but after suffering a nervous collapse due to post-partum depression after the birth of their daughter a year later, she moved with her daughter to Pasadena, California, in 1888. Gilman divorced her husband in 1894.

In California, Gilman wrote poems and stories for periodicals, and in the early 1890s became a noted lecturer. After living for a short time at Jane Addams’s Hull House in Chicago in 1895, she spent five years lecturing around the country. In 1898, she published her famous treatise, Women and Economics. In 1900, Gilman married her first cousin, George Houghton Gilman. Over the next 25 years, she wrote for periodicals and published more than a dozen books, including editing and publishing her own feminist magazine, Forerunner, from 1909-1916. Along with Jane Addams, she founded the Woman’s Peace Party in 1915.

Gilman died on August 17, 1935, in Pasadena, California, taking her own life after undergoing unsuccessful cancer treatments.


Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020, Aug. 13). Charlotte Perkins Gilman: American author and social reformer. In Britannica. Retrieved on Nov. 20, 2020, from

Gagnon, A. (2020, March 7). Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Retrieved on Nov. 25, 2020, from