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Naomi Mitchison: a Profile of Her Life and Work

A member of the famed Haldane family, Naomi Mitchison lived an adventurous, politically engaged, and well-examined life even as she wrote dozens of novels and works of nonfiction. From campaigning for women’s right to information about and the means of birth control to running for Parliament, from practicing “open marriage” in her own life to exploring a range of sexual arrangements in her fiction, for all of her 101 years, Mitchison embraced change as few people ever manage to do. Along the way she pioneered a new kind of historical novel that combined the immediacy of modern language with an ability to evoke the otherness of the past with great vividness and published her first work of feminist sf in 1962, a few years before the resurgence of feminism with its second wave. In her profile of Mitchison’s life and work, Lesley A. Hall offers an overview of this prolific writer’s life and work, beginning from her upper-class origins, through her radicalization as a feminist and socialist and her experimentation and examination of sexual arrangements, to her life as a writer repeatedly breaking new ground.

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