James Tiptree, Jr. (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
In the biography James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon Julie Phillips describes how, in late 1976, it was discovered that science-fiction writer James Tiptree, Jr., who was also well known for his correspondence with his readers, was actually a woman named Alice Bradley Sheldon. Born Alice Bradley, she described herself as “nothing but an old lady from Virginia.” After her identity was discovered, she continued to write and to publish, but somehow her work had lost its edge. Nonetheless, the science-fiction world was electrified all over again nine years later, when it was announced that Alice Sheldon had killed her husband and then turned the gun on herself, in what was believed to be a suicide pact.
Although Tiptree was reticent about his life, Alice Sheldon’s early life was documented in extraordinary detail. Her mother, Mary Hastings Bradley, was a society beauty, a novelist, and an adventurer who traveled extensively in Africa with her husband and Alice. Indeed, Alice’s adventures in Africa became the stuff of two of Bradley’s books for children. Alice was with her parents when they traveled with Carl Akeley on an expedition intended to collect gorilla specimens for the American Museum of Natural History but also to discourage further hunting of gorillas by having Bradley shoot one. The intended message was that if a woman could kill one, why would a man want to do so? Alice hoped she would have a gun of her own,...
(The entire section is 1429 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Booklist 102, nos. 19/20 (June 1-15, 2006): 29.
Entertainment Weekly, nos. 891/892 (August 18, 2006): 142.
Fantasy & Science Fiction 111, nos. 4/5 (October/November, 2006): 40-50.
Kirkus Reviews 74, no. 10 (May 15, 2006): 510.
The New York Times 155 (August 3, 2006): E6.
The New York Times Book Review 155 (August 20, 2006): 1-8.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 12 (March 20, 2006): 44.
The Times Literary Supplement, October 13, 2006, p. 27.
(The entire section is 44 words.)