Victoria Smith
Women Studies 200

Dorothy Allison

I am--feminist, queer, working class, and proud of the work I do

“Dorothy Allison refuses to write didactic or romantic illustrations
of the lesbian experience, focusing instead on the sheer survival of
her lesbian characters in the hostile environment of Southern working-
class families.”

"If I wasn't queer,” "I wouldn't be a writer. I would probably be

"One of the finest writers of her generation" by the Boston Globe

“Feminism saved my life. It was a substitute religion that made

Dorothy Allison was born 1949 in Greenville, South Carolina.  She was
born into a poor, white trash family.  Her mother was unwed and only
15 when Dorothy was born.  When Dorothy was only 5 she was beaten and
raped by her stepfather until the age 11.  Allison writes on her
lasting shame and quilt of her childhood.  She feels that “writing is
the only way she know to make sure of her ongoing decision to live, to
set moment to moment a small piece of stubbornness against an ocean of
ignorance and obliteration."(  Dorothy was a teenage when
she realized she was a lesbian, she spent years hiding it because she
already lived in shame and fear, that society would just judge her
more.  Dorothy has overcome a lot of her childhood through her
writings, she is an amazing women and her work reflects the life she
once lived.  She attended Presbyterian College in Florida on a
National Merits scholarship

Florida Presbyterian College, 1971
Earned M.A in Anthropology at New School for Social Research

Professional & Activist History
Joined a feminist collective when the radical women's movement
surfaced in the early 1970s
Member of the board of PEN International
Advisory Board of the National Coalition Against Censorship
Feminists for Free Expression and the advisory board of the James
Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award
Founded The Independent Spirit Award
Photographer’s Assistant in Tallahassee, FL
Founded Women’s Studies Program at FSU

Poetry & Prose
I try to live naked in the world, unashamed even under attack,
unafraid even though I know how much there is to fear. What I have
always feared is being what people have thought me--my stepfather's
willing toy, my mother's betrayer, my lover's faithless tease, my
family's ultimate shame, the slutty, racist, stupid cracker dyke who
doesn't know what she is doing. Trying always to know what I am doing
and why, choosing to be known as who --is as tricky as it ever was. I
tell myself that life is the long struggle to understand and love
fully. That to keep faith with those who have literally saved my life
and made it possible for me to imagine more than survival, I have to
try constantly to understand more, love more fully, go more naked in
order to make others as safe as I myself want to be. This is an
excerpt from her novel skin.  I feel that Dorothy is a strong writer
and she uses writing as a tool to speak her mind.  As far as her
professional life she has small press books that include Skin: Talking
About Sex, Class and Literature (1995), a collection of Allison's
essays, speeches and performance pieces which won the 1995 American
Library Association Gay and Lesbian Book Award, and Trash, a
collection of short stories (1989) which won Lambda Literary Awards
for Lesbian Fiction and Lesbian Small Press Book. She has published
two editions of poetry, both titled The Women Who Hate Me-the first in
1983 by Long Haul Press and the expanded 1990 edition by Firebrand.
( Allison)
*Bastard Out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison's first novel, was one of
five finalists for the 1992 National Book Award
*Second novel, the critically acclaimed Cavedweller (Dutton, 1998),
was a New York Times Best seller.
*Cavedweller won the 1998 Lambda Literary Award for fiction

Find Terry! He's Lost by Dorothy Allison, Econo-Clad Books (March,
Women Who Hate Me by Dorothy Allison (June, 1983)
The Women Who Hate Me: Poetry 1980-1990 by Dorothy Allison (March,
Cavedweller by Dorothy Allison (May, 1999)
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison (March, 1993)
Trash: Stories by Dorothy Allison (October, 2002)
Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature by Dorothy Allison (April,

Works About the Author
Nightwood (Modern Library) by Djuna Barnes
Short documentary by Tina DiFeliciantonlo and Jane Wagner on Two or
Three Things I Know for Sure

Works Cited
Reading Women’s Lives, Elizabeth Erbaugh