Hitherto Unknown: Research Workshops Tillie Olsen Wish List

Tillie Olsen 'Silences' at GWL. Credit: GWL
Tillie Olsen ‘Silences’ at GWL. Credit: GWL

“Literary history and the present are dark with silences.”

Tillie Olsen, ‘Silences’, 1978.

Ahead of the first of a series of research workshops inspired by writer and social activist, Tillie Olsen, and her legendary reading lists, we launch a call out to help complete the access to books from her reading lists in the Glasgow Women’s Library collection.


Find out more about the upcoming workshops here.

We currently hold less than one third of the books found on Tillie Olsen’s reading lists. Below is a list of the books we still need. Maybe the list includes a favourite book of yours, one you think everyone should have access to, or one you’d like to find time to read in the future. If you would like to make a donation to the collection download and complete the Tillie Olsen Reading List GWL Donation Form and bring it with the book to one of the Hitherto Unknown: Research Workshops or drop it off at Glasgow Women’s Library. It is important that you complete the donations paperwork so that the book is catalogued properly.

The books and stories listed below are ordered and categorised as they were in Tillie Olsen’s readings lists published in the early 1970s in the Women’s Studies Newsletter. These reading lists addressed issues such as ‘mothering and wifehood’, ‘girlhood labour’, and ‘assumption girls belong to their elders’. Many of the writers on her lists were not in the literary canon, had gone out of print, or had only been published in journals.

Tillie Olsen’s Reading list I (Winter 1972)

A Spectrum


Story of An African Farm, Olive Schreiner
Middlemarch, George Eliot
The Mill on the Flos, George Eliot
The Dollmaker, Harriette Arnow
Ultima Thule, H. H. Richardson (pen name of Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson)
Time of Man, Elizabeth Madox Roberts
Put Off Thy Shoes, Ethel Voynich


“The Revolt of Mother,” in Best Stories of Mary Wilkins Freeman, Mary Wilkins Freeman
“A Jury of Her Peers,” in U.S. Stories, ed. by Martha Foley Susan Glaspell
“Nor-Bibi’s Crime” in Short Stories of Russia Today, Vera Inber
“Wagner Matinee,” in Youth and the Bright Medusa, Willa Carther
“Old Mortality” and “The Old Order stories”, in Katherine Anne The Collected Stories, Katherine Anne
“Prelude,” “At the Bay,” and “Six Years After,” in Collected Stories, Katherine Mansfield
“Babushka Farnham,” in Fables for Parents, Dorothy Canfield Fisher
“The Bed Quilt,” in Vermont Lives, Dorothy Canfield Fisher
“Story of an Hour,” in Kate Chopin’s Collected Works, Kate Chopin


Eighty Years or More, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Tillie Olsen’s Reading List II (Spring 1973)

Women: A List Out of Which to Read

Four 100-Year-Old Women (read, preferably, as a cluster)

Grandmother Brown: Her First Hundred Years (1827-1927), ed. Harriet Connor Brown
Mountain Wolf Woman, Sister of Crashing Thunder: Autobiography of a Winnebago Indian, ed. Nancy O. Lurie.
Autobiography of Mother Jones, ed. Mary Field Parton.


“Transcendental Wild Oats,” in Bronson Alcott, Fruitlands, comp. by Clara Endicott Sears, Louisa May Alcott
Wedding Band, Alice Childress
“Sorrow-acres,” in Winter’s Tales, Isak Dinesen
Life of an Ordinary Woman, Katherine Ellis
“Ann Story,” in A Harvest of Stories, Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Barren Ground; Vein of Iron, Ellen Glasgow
In This Sign, Joanne Greenberg,
Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry,
“The Thousand Springs,” in The Thousand Springs, Mary Gray Hughes
“The Annunciation,” in The Annunciation, Meridel Le Sueur
The Wife of Martin Guerre, Janet Lewis
“The Woman at the Store,” in The Short Stories of Katherine Mansfield, Katherine Mansfield
Ten Grandmothers, Alice Marriott
Proud Shoes, Pauli Murray
Street, Ann Petry
“The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” in The Old Order, Katherine Anne Porter
Jubilee, Margaret Walker
“Memories of a Working Women’s Guild,” in The Captain s Death Bed, Virginia Woolf
This Child’s Gonna Live, Sarah Wright

Slaveys, Servants, Servers

Southbound, Barbara Anderson
Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic’s Life, Alice Childress
“Sophronia” in An Unfinished Woman, Lillian Hellman
Lummox Fanny Hurst, “The Child Who Was Tired,” “Life of Ma Parker,” and “The Tiredness of Rosabel,” in The Short Stories of Katherine Mansfield, Katherine Mansfield
“Clothe the Naked,” in Collected Stories, Dorothy Parker
Hatsy in “Holiday,” Collected Stories, Katherine Anne Porter
Below Stairs, Margaret Powell

Myth Dispellers

Zulu Woman, Rebecca H. Reyher

Tillie Olsen’s Reading List III (Summer 1973)

Section II

My Mother’s House, Colette
Fables for Parents, Dorothy Canfield Fisher
The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley
From Man to Man, Olive Schreiner
“Three Stockings” in Mrs. Miniver, Jan Struther

Section IV

Journey to the North, Storm Jameson
Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ed. Annie Fields

Tillie Olsen’s Reading List IV (Winter 1974)

Forms and Formings: The Younger Years

The Younger Years: A Spectrum of Girlhoods

Mill On the Floss, George Eliot
The Beth Book, Sarah Grand
Eighty Years or More, Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Mountain Wolf Woman, ed. Nancy Lurie
Little House in the Big Woods to These Happy Golden Years, (Pioneer Series) Laura Ingalls Wilder
Hagar, Mary Johnston
Testimony of Youth, Vera Brittain
Our Kate, Catherine Cookson
“The Grave,” and Miranda in “Old Order” in Leaning Tower and Other Stories, Katherine Anne Porter
My Home Is Far Away, Dawn Powell
Other People’s Houses, Lore Segal
Brown Girl, Brown Stones, Paule Marshall
Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, Alix Kate Shulman
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Hannah Green (Joanna Greenberg)
The Beat of Life, Barbara Probst Solomon
Grandmother Brown: Her First Hundred Years, H. C. Brown
Tell Me Another Morning, Zdena Berger
Bonnie Jo, Go Home, Jeanette Everly

Girlhood Labor (in addition to unpaid, necessary household labor)

Freedom Train: the Life of Harriet Tubman, Dorothy Sterling
Margaret Howth, Rebecca Harding Davis
The Silent Partner, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
“28th of January” in Sixteen For One, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
Daughter of Han, Ida Pruitt
New England Girlhood; An Idyl of Work Lucy Larcom


Understood Betsy, Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Emmy Lou: Her Book and Heart, George Madden Martin
Mill Child, Ruth Holland
“The Doll’s House,” “Prelude,” and “At the Bay” in Short Stories, Katherine Mansfield

Dawnings, Flowerings, Strivings, Sexuality

Mary Olivier, May Sinclair
“Honeycomb,” Pilgrimage, Vol. 1, Dorothy Richardson|
The Book of Small Growing Pains, Emily Carr
Arrogant Beggar, Anzia Yezierska
Growing Pains; The End of a Childhood, Henry Handel Richardson (pen name of Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson)
Under Gemini; Days of My Youth, Isabel Bolton Miller
Hide and Seek; Cress Delahanty, Jessamyn West
Now in November, “I Was 16,” in Winter Orchard and Other Stories, Josephine Johnson
The Changelings, Jo Sinclair
The Dead of the House, Hannah Green
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
“The Golden Button” in The Woman with the Little Fox, Violet LeDuc
Salzburg Tales; Teresa For Love Alone, Christina Stead
“Liwie” in Selected Stories, Eudora Welty
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
“The Tea Time of Stout Hearted Ladies” in Best American Short Stories 1965, Jean Stafford
Through Dooms of Love, Maxine Kumin
Hill Is Level, Lenore Marshall
Cousin to Human, Jane Mayhall
“Bridgeport Bus” in Prize Stories 1962: The O’Henry Awards, Maureen Howard
Dance of the Happy Shade, Alice Munro
Nerves, Blanche Boyd
Gorilla, My Love, Toni Cade Bambara
Coming of Age in Mississippi, Anne Moody
Welsh Story, Joyce Varney

Writers About Themselves

The Woman Within, Ellen Glasgow
Journey to the North, Storm Jameson
Save Me the Waltz, Zelda Fitzgerald
Zelda, Nancy Milford
Myself When Young, Henry Handel Richardson (pen name of Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson)


“Notes for a Case History” in A Man and Two Women, Doris Lessing


New England Girlhood, Nancy Hale
The Little Locksmith, Katherine Hathaway

Rape, Brutality, Degradations, Prostitution

“The Little Governess” in Short Stories, Katherine Mansfield
“Nights at O’Rourkes” in Prize Stories 1970, Patricia Griffith

Assumption Girls Belong to Their Elders

“The Liberation” in Stories, Jean Stafford
“Rich People” in The Pattern of Perfection, Nancy Hale


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