Charlotte Perkins Gilman (July 3, 1860 - August 17, 1935) was a prominent American short story and non-fiction writer, novelist, commercial artist, lecturer and feminist social reformer. She is mainly known today for her short story The Yellow Wallpaper, based on her own bout with mental illness and misguided medical treatment.
Gilman was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the daughter of Mary Perkins (formerly Mary Fitch Westcott) and Frederic Beecher Perkins, a well-known librarian, magazine editor, and nephew of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her father was rarely home, leaving his wife and daughter with his progressive aunts Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catherine Beecher, and Isabella Beecher Hooker.
After studying for two years at the Rhode Island School of Design, she supported herself as a greeting-card artist. She married Charles Walter Stetson, a fellow artist, in 1884. Her only child, Katharine Beecher Stetson, was born in 1884. During this time and throughout her life she suffered from depression, which influenced her writing. She separated from her husband in 1888, divorcing him in 1894. After her divorce, her daughter was brought up by her best friend Grace Ellery Channing, who became Stetson's wife.
After her separation from her first husband, she and her daughter moved to California, where she was active in organizing social reform and feminist groups. She lectured across the country and in the United Kingdom. She lived intimately with Adeline Knapp, a San Francisco newspaper reporter who shared her interests in social reform and the Nationalist Club based on Edward Bellamy's utopian vision.
Her second marriage, from 1900 to his death in 1934, was to her first cousin, George Houghton Gilman, a lawyer in New York City. In her letters to her cousin, she worried that her letters to Knapp would be published and cause a scandal. In 1922, she moved from New York to Norwich, Connecticut, where she wrote His Religion and Hers. Ten years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After her husband died in 1934, she moved back to Pasadena, California to be closer to her daughter. Suffering from inoperable breast cancer, she committed suicide on August 17, 1935, by inhaling chloroform.
Her first book In This Our World was published in 1893. Following that, in 1898 she published her better-known Women and Economics. In 1892, her best-known literary work, The Yellow Wallpaper, was published. From the early 1890s she gained fame from her lectures and articles, many of which were published in her monthly journal, the Forerunner, in circulation from 1909 to 1916. In 1915 she serialized her novel Herland in The Forerunner.
All in all, before committing suicide, she had published an impressive amount of texts : 8 novels, 170 stories, 100 poems and 200 non-fiction pieces.