Well, that is kind of funny, because I keep waking up and thinking I’m still 25. Hey, whatever works for you to help you stay young! Elizabeth led a full life until her death at age 91. She also contributed our quote of the day on August 20, 2010.
Woman Who Rocks: Elizabeth Janeway
Occupation: American author, critic, and feminist
Why She Rocks: Elizabeth grew up during the depression and had to drop out of Swarthmore College to help support her family. She did so by writing bargain-basement advertising sales slogans. She did end up getting her college degree from Barnard College a few years later and was so determined to become a writer that she took the same creative writing class repeatedly to hone her craft. I love the fact that winning a competition sponsored by Story magazine encouraged her to keep going, and she went on to write seven novels. Throughout her career she served as a reviewer and critic for the New York Times and Ms. Magazine. While she was a critic at the New York Times, she helped champion controversial literary works of her time, like Lolita.
Some of Elizabeth’s early works focused on the struggles of women dealing with modern society, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that she began writing about feminist topics. Her works—Man’s World, Women’s Place: A Study of Social Mythology (1971), Between Myth and Morning: Women Awakening (1974), Powers of the Weak (1980), and Improper Behavior (1987)—gained her a critical voice for women stifled by the home or workplace. She was a major supporter of the women’s movement and abortion rights.
Some of her best friends included Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.
Nickname: She was called a modern Jane Austen and a precocious writer
Life Span: October 7, 1913 – January 15, 2005
Major Accomplishments and Honors:
- Her 1945 novel, Daisy Kenyon, was made into a motion picture, starring Joan Crawford.
- Elizabeth served as the president of the Authors Guild from 1965 to 1969, working toward copyright protection for authors.
- Barnard College, her alma mater, granted Elizabeth their highest honor, the Barnard Medal of Distinction, at their 1981 graduation ceremonies.
- She served as a judge for the National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prize.
- Elizabeth served as director of the National Organization for Women’s legal and education fund.
Fun Facts: Elizabeth described her husband as “the most intelligent man I have ever met.” She was married to Eliot Janeway who was the economic adviser to Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson (there aren’t many woman I know who would say that about their husbands!).
As part of their social circle, Jane and Eliot hung out with several U.S. Supreme Court justices, and I think it is hilarious that Jane recommended Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying to Justice William O. Douglas. By the way, I’m with Jane; I highly recommend Fear of Flying. It is one of my favorite books.
She signed the contract with her publisher for her first book, Girls, on the way to the hospital to deliver her second child. She has said that if her delivery were not a few days late, she would have never finished the book.
Star Trek Voyager’s Captain Janeway was originally named Elizabeth. The name was changed right away to avoid any legal issues when they show’s producers figured out that a prominent woman already held the name Elizabeth Janeway.
The Elizabeth Janeway Experience: Here are a few links to the book Elizabeth wrote on the women’s movement and the classic Fear of Flying.
Photo: Dmitry Mayatskyy
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