The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind-Baby Problem by Phillips, Julie

The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind

Baby Problem

Regular price $27.95

What does a great artist who is also a mother look like? What does it mean to create, not in "a room of one's own," but in a domestic space? In The Baby on the Fire Escape, award-winning biographer Julie Phillips traverses the shifting terrain where motherhood and creativity converge.

With fierce empathy, Phillips evokes the intimate and varied struggles of brilliant artists and writers of the twentieth century. Ursula K. Le Guin found productive stability in family life, and Audre Lorde's queer, polyamorous union allowed her to raise children on her own terms. Susan Sontag became a mother at nineteen, Angela Carter at forty-three. These mothers had one child, or five, or seven. They worked in a studio, in the kitchen, in the car, on the bed, at a desk, with a baby carrier beside them. They faced judgement for pursuing their creative work--Doris Lessing was said to have abandoned her children, and Alice Neel's in-laws falsely claimed that she once, to finish a painting, left her baby on the fire escape of her New York apartment.

As she threads together vivid portraits of these pathbreaking women, Phillips argues that creative motherhood is a question of keeping the baby on that apocryphal fire escape: work and care held in a constantly renegotiated, provisional, productive tension. A meditation on maternal identity and artistic greatness, The Baby on the Fire Escape illuminates some of the most pressing conflicts in contemporary life.



Author: Julie Phillips
Binding Type: Hardcover
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Published: 04/26/2022
Pages: 320
Weight: 1.05lbs
Size: 8.60h x 5.90w x 1.20d
ISBN: 9780393088595


Review Citation(s):
Library Journal 02/01/2022 pg. 69
Publishers Weekly 02/07/2022
Kirkus Reviews 03/01/2022
Booklist 03/01/2022 pg. 2

About the Author
Phillips, Julie: - Julie Phillips is the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. The recipient of a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant, she lives in Amsterdam with her partner and their two children