This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for June 18, 2017: There Comes the Strangest Moment

June 18, 2017: birthday: Gail Godwin

It’s the birthday of novelist Gail Godwin (books by this author), born in Birmingham, Alabama (1937). She’s the author of many books, including The Odd Woman (1974), The Finishing School (1985), and The Good Husband (1994).

She was raised by her mother, who worked as a newspaper reporter and wrote romance novels on the weekends to make extra money, while Godwin’s grandmother did all the cleaning and cooking. Godwin later said: “Already, at five, I had allied myself with the typewriter rather than the stove. The person at the stove usually had the thankless task of fueling. Whereas, if you were faithful to your vision at the typewriter, by lunchtime you could make two more characters happy — even if you weren’t so happy yourself.”

Her first big success was the novel A Mother and Two Daughters (1982), about a widow named Nell Strickland and her two recently single daughters, Cate and Lydia. It was the first book that Godwin had written from multiple points of view. She said: “For a long time I was influenced by … the idea that there could only be one center of consciousness. Suddenly I found I didn’t care anymore. I found I could be anybody, could enter fully into them.” A Mother and Two Daughters became a best-seller, and she’s gone on to write several more. Her book Publishing: A Writer’s Memoir came out in 2015.

Gail Godwin said: “I work continuously within the shadow of failure. For every novel that makes it to my publisher’s desk, there are at least five or six that died on the way.”