News and Events


In "this superb and painstaking biography . . . Reid artfully depicts a tortured writer whose concern for oppressed masses often elipsed her duty to intimates." Sheila Anne Feeney, Sunday Star Ledger, Newark, NJ, 5 September 2010.

"What Reid has produced is a forthright and honest account of Tillie Olsen's life--warts and all. This is a courageous achievement . . . As Reid brilliantly shows, Olsen's reputation is based on a meager output . . . [This] skilfully drawn [portrait] is a major achievement in offering a balanced appraisal of Tillie Olsen, who was revered by some and reviled by others." Morton I. Teicher, National Jewish Post & Opinion, 11 August 2010.

"Reid definitely knocks Olsen off any saintly pedestal. But she does this without lessening the impact of Olsen's work. The book is readable and engaging; it isn't just for scholars." Kristin Conard, Feminist Review.

"Reid has brought together a remarkable amount of material on the life of Olsen. . . . Olsen's relationship to Jewish identity must be inferred from her preferred emphasis on universal social justice, although Olsen's occasional delight in her acceptance in Jewish quarters is noted. Even if some readers resent Reid's unvarnished honesty, students of Olsen's work will find this a valuable guide to the autobiographical roots of Olsen's fiction." BEB, Jewish Book World.

"An inventive and indefatigable researcher, Reid provides a lively narrative of Olsen’s fascinating life: as a labor union 'bigwig' in the ’30s, a victim of FBI surveillance in the ’50s and a civil rights, women’s rights, anti-Vietnam War activist in the ’60s and ’70s." Glenn C. Altschuler, The Jerusalem Post, April 29, 2010.

"Reid's brilliant biography of Tillie Olsen will appeal to a wide audience interested in the American Left, women's literature, and the creative struggle. . . . [Reid], sympathetically and critically, describes the strengths and foibles of the iconic Olsen." Oliver R. Pollak, Jewish Press, Omaha, NE, March 19, 2010.

"Instead of affirming popular images of Olsen, [this biography] raises important questions about the meaning of her career and the making of 20th-century literary history." Lisa Woolley, The Bloomsbury Review, April 1, 2010.

"Panthea Reid chronicles a journey for knowledge and social justice that spans the entire 20th century and follows the events that made the times momentous. Olsen is a biography of rare humanity. It is profoundly real. . . . Reid has written a marvelously evocative book. 'My biographer's obligation,' she says in her epologue, 'is to try to tell the truth as artfully as possible and not to let love hamper honesty.' that is what she does. Poignantly." Andrew Burstein, Baton Rouge Advocate, 7 March 2010.

"Tillie Olsen is deserving of this penetrating biography, the first book to unravel the riddle of a life devoted to and tormented by writing." Carl Rollyson, the Kansas City Star (and syndicated widely).

"Reid concludes her book with a sense of conflicted loss. While she wept at Olsen's death, 'I have never adored Tillie,' she admits. Reverence hampers facts, she says, then adds, 'My biographer's obligation . . .is to tell the truth as artfully as possible and not to let love hamper honesty.' No wise reader could ask for anything more." Susan Comninos, the Christian Science Monitor.

"Great lives challenge and empower an intelligent, determined biographer. Tillie Olsen lived a great life to which Panthea Reid does full justice." Stuart Mitchner, the Princeton Town Topics.

Reid “paints a deftly engrossing, nuanced, and meticulously researched portrait of a perplexing, larger-than-life woman.” Publishers Weekly, 11/30/09, starred review.



28 January, at 4: 30 p.m., in the Princeton Public Library, Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ: a reading and signing of Tillie Olsen: One Woman, Many Riddles.

14 February: Discussion of writing biographies, CWW-5 meeting (not open to the public)

18 March: a visit with the Blacksburg Writers' Group, Blackburg, Virginia.y

24 March: Public lecture on "Playing Hide and Seek with Tillie Olsen," 7 p.m., Rogers Hall.

October 6: Reading and signing for Friends of the New Brunswick Free Public. 12:15 -1 p.m at 60 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, NJ.

6 November: Talk on the biography of Tillie Olsen and playing a hide-and-seek game with her. The South Atlantic Modern Language Association Meeting, Atlanta

Panthea Reid on Herself and Writing Biography
Other Publications and History
Tillie Olsen: One Woman, Many Riddles

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