My First Thirty Years: A Memoir

Category: Book
By (author): Beasley, Gertrude
Edited By: Bennett, Marie
Foreword By: Bennett, Nina
Subject:  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General
  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Historical
  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Women
Audience: general/trade
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Published: September 2021
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 352
Size: 8.00in x 5.25in x 0.88in
Our Price:
$ 24.99
Availability:
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

"Thirty years ago, 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, and brought into association with people whom I should never have chosen."

This is the searing opening to Edna "Gertrude" Beasley's raw and scathing memoir, originally published in Paris in 1925 but ultimately suppressed and lost to history-until now. Only five-hundred copies were printed, very few of which made it into readers' hands, having been confiscated by customs inspectors or removed from bookshelves by Texas law enforcement. Her book was essentially banned, her voice silenced.

In 1927, Beasley-a self-proclaimed socialist and staunch feminist who fought for women's rights-disappeared. Her fate remained a mystery until researchers began digging into her story. While living in London, she had been thrown out of her lodgings-for reasons that remain unclear-arrested and placed in a mental ward. A few months later, she returned to the U.S. and was committed to a psychiatric center on Long Island. She never left, dying there of pancreatic cancer in 1955.

My First Thirty Years reveals the story of a woman who grew up in abject poverty in rural Texas during the early 1900s, where she battled ongoing internal wars with herself concerning her family, faith, sexual reckoning, and quest for education at a time when women were not supposed to discuss those things. Beasley's memoir is one of the most brutally honest coming-of-age historical memoirs ever written. Her story deserves to be heard.

Review Quote*

""This fierce chronicle of one woman's determination to confront insurmountable odds in the fight for women'srights is a template of righteous dissent against many persistent forms of social injustice." Booklist" - Booklist

Review Quote*"From its unforgettable first sentence, this brilliant, bitter memoir of West Texas girlhood in the 1920s sears itself into the reader's imagination. Published by an avant-garde Paris press in 1925, banned, forgotten, remembered, treasured, buried again, and finally made available in this new edition, Gertrude Beasley's memoir is invaluable to our understandings of modernism, feminism, sexual violence, and Texas history. Beasley is a born storyteller. I could not put this book down." - Lisa Moore, Archibald A. Hill Professor of English and Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
Review Quote*"We should all be as fierce, loud, and convinced of our own self-worth as Gertrude Beasley was. This story of a justifiably angry woman living ahead of the world she lived in will resonate deeply today." - Soraya Chemaly, activist and award-winning author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger
Review Quote*"Gertrude Beasley wrote one of the great modern autobiographies, but it was immediately suppressed. Widely available at last, it is a shocking but moving feminist exploration of growing up in America." - Bert Almon, author of This Stubborn Self: Texas Autobiographies
Review Quote*"My First Thirty Years is a brutally graphic personal memoir that was censored, suppressed, and nearly forgotten. This reprint will finally enable people outside of library special collections to read and honor this memoir by an indominable and almost erased Texas heroine." - Dr. Sylvia Grider, co-author of Texas Women Writers & Senior Professor Emerita, Texas A&M University
Review Quote*"Gertrude Beasley's 1925 memoir grabs the reader by the arm and holds tight, speaking with a voice as compelling as if she had just put down her pen this morning. Feminist, socialist, and acute observer of both herself and the world around her, Beasley gives us stories that illuminate the costs of poverty and of being a woman. To read My First Thirty Years is to be in conversation with an extraordinary mind." - Anne Gardiner Perkins, author of Yale Needs Women
Review Quote*"In a voice as compelling as it is sinister, Gertrude Beasley recounts a hardscrabble upbringing, transcending time and place to bring to life her story of overcoming brutal circumstances in the search for a different way to live-even if her own success was partial. This long-banned memoir is one of the best coming-of-age stories about being poor and a woman-another way of saying, being human-in 20th century Texas. My First Thirty Years is a damn good book, and it deserves a wide audience." - Mary Helen Specht, author of Migratory Animals
Biographical NoteEDNA GERTRUDE BEASLEY (1892-1955) was an American writer and memoirist. A feminist, her controversial 1925 autobiography, My First Thirty Years, received some favorable reviews but was also suppressed, and she soon after disappeared.