Nebraska Center for Writers
TILLIE OLSEN

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TILLIE OLSEN is the highly praised author of Tell Me a Riddle, Silences, and Yonnondio. She is a Nebraska native (born in 1912 or 1913) who began writing in the 1930s. The necessity of raising and supporting four children through "everyday jobs" silenced her for twenty years. Public libraries were her college. Among the colleges where she has taught or been writer-in-residence are Amherst College, Stanford University, MIT, and Kenyon College. She is the recipient of five honorary degrees, National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the O Henry Award for best short story, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her Afterword to Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron Mills is a moving account of her commitment to labor issues and feminist values. Regarded as one of the earliest spokesperson's for the women's movement, she has said, "Be critical. Women have the right to say: This is surface, this falsifies reality, this degrades." She was raised in the Russian Jewish and Socialist community in Omaha and now lives in Berkeley.



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