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Gilman, Charlotte Perkins Stetson.

Yellow Wall Paper, The.


[Gilman, Charlotte Perkins]. Stetson, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wall-Paper. In New England Magazine, an illustrated monthly. Boston: New England Magazine Corporation, September 1891-February 1892 ("Old Series Vol. 11, New Series Vol. 5), pp. 647-656.
Large 8vo.; brown pebbled cloth stamped in blind and gilt.
The first appearance of The Yellow Wall-Paper, in New England Magazine V.5 (January 1892), in the publisher's collective bind-up for the issues from September 1891 to February 1892. With illustrations by Jo. H. Hatfield to three excerpts: "I am sitting by the window in the atrocious nursery"; "She didn't know I was in the room"; and "I had to creep over him every time."
In 1884 Perkins wed the painter Charles Walter Stetson after a brief courtship. Domestic life nearly ruined her: immediately after giving birth to her only daughter, Katharine, Charlotte sank into a deep depression. Ironically, the experience yielded one of her greatest literary successes: she wrote The Yellow Wall Paper as therapy.
The Yellow Wall Paper, a tale of a young wife's descent into madness, first appeared in the May 1891 issue of New England Magazine. The central character, suffering from exhaustion, is literally locked into a converted nursery where she is forcibly medicated and barred from physical exercise or creative endeavors, especially writing, by her physician husband. The progressive deterioration of the woman's mind is graphically invoked by her changing view of the wallpaper decorating the walls of the nursery-prison. As time passes the wallpaper takes on an increasingly sinister aspect: she imagines that she sees in its abstract design the shape of a woman behind bars, a woman trying unsuccessfully to escape. At the book's end, the woman destroys the room, tearing the paper off the walls with her hands and teeth. Her daemonica fury causes her husband to faint, allowing her to achieve freedom. The Yellow Wall Paper was immediately hailed as a great work of imaginative fiction. Largely autobiographical, it is considered one of the most significant artistic expressions of late 19th-century female experience.

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