This Week in History


Birth of author Grace Paley

December 11, 1922
Grace Paley book cover
Full image
The cover of Grace Paley: The Collected Stories by Grace Paley. Virago 1998, Paperback.

Grace Paley, author, feminist and “somewhat combative pacifist and cooperative anarchist,” was born on December 11, 1922 in the Bronx. She wrote three highly acclaimed collections of short fiction including Later the Same Day (1985) and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974), as well as three poetry collections, and her fiction appeared in many prominent periodicals. She taught at City College of New York, Sarah Lawrence College, and Dartmouth.

Raised in a socialist family by parents who had been arrested by the Russian czarist regime, Paley's progressive stances and concern for the underdog often emerged in her writing. Her political activism as an adult began with her work with the PTA at her children's school. She maintained an active and long-term involvement in anti-war, anti-nuclear, and feminist movements. Her more controversial activities included a visit to North Vietnam in 1969 and her role in co-founding the Jewish Women's Committee to End the Occupation of the Left Bank and Gaza in 1987.

Paley received many grants and awards including a Senior Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in recognition of her lifetime contribution to literature in 1987. In 1986, Governor Mario Cuomo named Paley as the first official New York State Writer. Paley passed away on August 22, 2007.

To learn more about Grace Paley, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia and We Remember.

See also: Fiction in the United States; This Week in History for March 19, 1970 - Grace Paley arrested at Vietnam protest; Living the Legacy document - "Traveling" by Grace Paley; Remembering Grace Paley, Thinking of Grace, and Grace Paley, z”l, Jewesses with Attitude.

Sources: Into_The_Literary_Mainstream/Literature_Paley_Norton.htm;; Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 1026-1028;

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Birth of author Grace Paley." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <>.