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Birth of author Grace Paley

December 11, 1922

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.

Sources: www.myjewishlearning.com/culture/literature/Overview_Jewish_American_Literature/ Into_The_Literary_Mainstream/Literature_Paley_Norton.htm; http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/paley.html; Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 1026-1028.

3 Comments

Grace was born and raised in the same neighborhood as I was. The Bronx at the time was all Jewish. At Tremont Avenue, there were Jewish delicatessens, bakeries, groceries, dairy shops, whatever a Jewish housewife might need to feed her family. I later became a lawyer and writer of Jewish subjects. That neighborhood nourished intellectual growth.

Please add her posthumously published book of poems: FIDELITY she was Vermont State Poet also link to http://www.gracepaleylegacy.bl... thanks for your wonderful work.

Your post is now part of the record of this page. We have also repeated the link to the blog from her encyclopedia page.

Ari Davidow JWA Staff

"The Collected Stories" by Grace Paley, 1998
Full image
The cover of The Collected Stories by Grace Paley. Virago 1998, Paperback.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Birth of author Grace Paley." (Viewed on July 20, 2017) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/dec/11/1922/grace-paley>.

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