Susan B Anthony, women’s rights activist, slavery abolition activist, and educational reformer, was born today in 1820. If it wasn’t for her and her many cohorts, we women today, across the world, would not be enjoying the many freedoms we take for granted. Having grown up in a patriarchal world, I constantly remind myself of these words of hers: ". . .many young people think that all the privileges, all the freedom, all the enjoyments which woman now possesses always were hers. They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past."
Author, Mavis Gallant, passed away at age 91 yesterday. Born in Canada, she decided, very early on, that she wanted to do two things: live in Paris and earn a living from writing. She managed both of those in trailblazing ways and in the face of many obstacles for a woman of her time. Her stories are sharply-observant, unsentimental and, definitely, ahead of her times. She had inspired many writers, particularly those who have also focused on themes of displacement, like Michael Ondaatje and Jhumpa Lahiri. Gallant's death is a great loss to the literary world, even though she was rather under-appreciated by the wider reading public throughout most of her life.
Doris Lessing, a literary lioness, died on the 17th of November (yesterday) at age 94. Known for her strong, independent female characters, she was branded a feminist — a term she wasn't particularly fond of because it pigeonholed her as an author when she wrote about many other themes like racism, colonialism, independence, sex, etc. She wasn't perfect, having abandoned her marriage and children to pursue a free life, controversially speaking out about communism, 9/11, etc. But her fierce intelligence and her prolific authorial output won her many admirers among both her fellow writers and generations of readers.