The author, artist, and activist in the Women’s Liberation Movement Kate Millett died on Wednesday, September 6 at the age of eighty-two. Her first book, Sexual Politics (1970), used four male writers—D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, and Jean Genet—as case studies in examining the subjugation of women throughout cultural and political life.
Born in 1934 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Kate Millett and her two sisters were raised by her mother, Helen Millett, a feminist who voted in the first election in which women were allowed to vote in the United States. Millet was educated at the University of Minnesota, where in 1956 she obtained a bachelor’s in English literature, and was later sent by an aunt to Oxford University, where in 1958 she earned a master’s in English literature with first class honors, the first American woman ever to achieve such distinction there. In 1961 she moved to Tokyo, where she taught English at the prestigious Waseda University and also studied sculpture. Though she married Japanese sculptor Fumio Yoshimura there in 1965, Millett soon moved to New York City. In 1970, her Columbia University Ph.D. thesis was published as the bestselling book, Sexual Politics. Millett went on to publish numerous articles, essays, and ten more books.
Her most recent publications are The Politics of Cruelty: An Essay on the Literature of Political Imprisonment (1994) and Mother Millett (2001). In 2013, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, the birthplace of the American Suffragette Movement. She served as the director of the Millett Center for the Arts, founded in 1978 in the town of LaGrange, New York.