by Rosemary Hennessy
University of Minnesota Press, 2023
Cloth: 978-1-5179-1489-9 | Paper: 978-1-5179-1490-5 | eISBN: 978-1-4529-7006-6
Library of Congress Classification PS151.H465 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 810.99287


Recovering the bold voices and audacious lives of women who confronted capitalist society’s failures and injustices in the 1930s—a decade unnervingly similar to our own

In the Company of Radical Women Writers rediscovers the political commitments and passionate advocacy of seven writers—Black, Jewish, and white—who as young women turned to communism around the Great Depression and, over decades of national crisis, spoke to issues of labor, land, and love in ways that provide urgent, thought-provoking guidance for today. Rosemary Hennessy spotlights the courageous lives of women who confronted similar challenges to those we still face: exhausting and unfair labor practices, unrelenting racial injustice, and environmental devastation.

As Hennessy brilliantly shows, the documentary journalism and creative and biographical writings of Marvel Cooke, Louise Thompson Patterson, Claudia Jones, Alice Childress, Josephine Herbst, Meridel Le Sueur, and Muriel Rukeyser recognized that life is sustained across a web of dependencies that we each have a duty to maintain. Their work brought into sharp focus the value and dignity of Black women’s domestic work, confronted the destructive myths of land exploitation and white supremacy, and explored ways of knowing attuned to a life-giving erotic energy that spans bodies and relations. In doing so, they also expanded the scope of American communism.

By tracing the attention these seven women pay to “life-making” as the relations supporting survival and wellbeing—from Harlem to the American South and Midwest—In the Company of Radical Women Writers reveals their groundbreaking reconceptions of the political and provides bracing inspiration in the ongoing fight for justice.