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About the Event:

Join playwright Normandy Sherwood, feminist scholar Kara Jesella and writer Emily Gould for a discussion of the life and legacy of one of the early 20th century's most scandalous and enduringly relevant memoirists. Mary MacLane, famous at 19 for her bold and frankly self-involved writing, blazed a path for modern writers yet died in obscurity. What can we learn from her short and adventurous life? Is there such a thing as "feminist narcissism," and what purpose might it serve? Learn more about the 1881-born woman who's been called "America's first blogger."

About I Await the Devil's Coming:

Mary MacLane’s I Await the Devil’s Coming is a shocking, brave and intellectually challenging diary of a 19-year-old girl living in Butte, Montana in 1902. Written in potent, raw prose that propelled the author to celebrity upon publication, the book has become almost completely forgotten.

In the early 20th century, MacLane’s name was synonymous with sexuality; she is widely hailed as being one of the earliest American feminist authors, and critics at the time praised her work for its daringly open and confessional style. In its first month of publication, the book sold 100,000 copies — a remarkable number for a debut author, and one that illustrates MacLane’s broad appeal.

Now, with a new foreward written by critic Jessa Crispin, I Await The Devil’s Coming stands poised to renew its reputation as one of America’s earliest and most powerful accounts of feminist thought and creativity.

Performer Bio(s): 


Emily Gould is the author of And The Heart Says Whatever and the forthcoming novel Friendship. She is co-owner of Emily Books.

Kara Jesella has been a writer and editor at several magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, and co-authored How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Magazine of All Time, which was published by Faber & Faber in 2007. She is currently a PhD candidate in New York University’s Performance Studies department, where her work focuses on feminist art and the Internet. She used to have a blog; now she has a Tumblr.

Normandy Sherwood is a playwright, costumer and writing teacher in New York City. Her theater company is The National Theater of the United States of America.



Mary MacLane was born on May 1st 1881 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her family moved to Minnesota while she was young, then again to Montana after the death of her father and remarriage of her mother. She began writing for her school paper in 1898 and published her first book, I Await the Devil's Coming, under the title The Story of Mary MacLane, in 1902 at the age of nineteen. She published two further books, including the memoir I, Mary MacLane in 1917; also in 1917 she wrote and starred in an autobiographical silent film, Men Who Have Made Love to Me. She died in mysterious circumstances in Chicago in 1929, at the age of 48, and her works fell almost immediately into obscurity.

Mary MacLane: In Conversation
Emily Gould, Kara Jesella, & Normandy Raven Sherwood discuss I Await the Devil's Coming
Wed Mar 20, 7:00PM
Host(s): 
Melville House
Appearing: 
Emily Gould
Kara Jesella
Normandy Raven Sherwood
On the Docket: 
Release Party
Reading
Audience Q&A
Book Signing
Panel Discussion