Catharine R. Stimpson's closing remarks at BCRW 20th anniversary dinner, 1993, page 1

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          After Dinner Comments
Barnard Women's Center Dinner
Friday, April 23, 1993
Catharine R. Stimpson


Tonight, we are in a mood to party. We are proud of the
Barnard Women's Center. We are confident and enthusiastic about its
future. We want the Center to be as courageous as Sojourner Truth,
as wise as Margaret Mead and Mirra Komarovsky, as wealthy as Queen
Elizabeth (either the First or the Second will do), and as spunky
as Nancy Drew.

I have no desire to dampen the spirits of this crowd, to seem
to be a pedantic party-pooper. Nevertheless, I wish to begin by
evoking a figure from history, one of the great writers in world
literature, Christine de Pisan. In l389, she was an Italian woman
living in France. Her father, spurning the conventional wisdom
about girls, had educated her. Her ‘mother had been. a more
obsequious.servant of convention. Her mother, Christine later said,
had wanted to keep her "busy with spinning and silly girlishness,
following the common custom of women." In l389, Christine was also
young, 25 years old, but she was a widow, grieving a beloved
husband, with 3 little children.

This single parent made a radical, fateful choice: to support
herself and the 3 children by her pen. She became the first
professional woman writer in Europe. In 1405, she wrote something

wonderful, The Book of the City of Ladies, a defense of women and