About Karen Christensen

Karen Christensen is an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and scholar who writes about the many ways women have gained and wielded power. She is the owner and CEO of Berkshire Publishing Group, a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Press, a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and founder of the Train Campaign. Read Karen’s occasional dispatches from the frontlines of international publishing at the Berkshire Blog (or subscribe by clicking here) and follow her on Twitter @karenchristenze.

Where has the toilet paper gone?

Social distancing has led to some intimate sharing in my neighborhood, starting with a plaintive email asking if anyone knew where you could find some toilet paper. Here’s the response that got the ball rolling: All over the US we are dealing with a TP shortage and grocery stores seem to be having a hard time sourcing them and keeping them in stock. If you are completely out, I’m willing to spare a roll or two. However, if you’re just low (and this goes for everyone) please consider doing the [...]

March 30th, 2020|Categories: Around the House, Home Ecology|

The Princeton story continued

With several others who were at the Firestone Library at Princeton on 2 January, I've contributed a piece to Time Present,  the newsletter of the T. S. Eliot Society, which will then be published in a special forum in the T. S. Eliot Studies Annual, published by Clemson University Press. When I started working with Valerie Eliot in October 1986, I swore that I wasn't going to be sucked into the Eliot orbit. But the damned story followed me! I now swear that I couldn't help it, and when someone says, [...]

March 26th, 2020|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|

To Cook A Wolf – Baking with M F K Fisher

I’m in a war-time, Victory Garden frame of mind. There is no actual food shortage and no prospect, it seems, of running out of food. But going to the shops has left us shaken: the crowds, the lack of awareness of what social distancing means (the guys standing close together in the produce department at Guido’s, chatting about how their kids’ schools have been closed - guess why, fellas?), and even the presence of sick people (the woman coughing in the checkout line at the Berkshire Coop - seriously?). Add [...]

March 22nd, 2020|Categories: Food|

Books and Movies about the Wives of Famous Men

(Read main post on this topic.) Books about and by the wives, ex-wives, and lovers of famous men have become almost a literary genre. But why have they become so popular? These books often show the hidden contributions of women, and they help us understand our lives and our world. We want to read about the women who attracted those famous men, and we want to know what they experienced, and how it worked, and where it went wrong. And we want to know that we will be seen, recognized, [...]

January 15th, 2020|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|

First look at the Emily Hale letters

Note: At Berkshire Bookworld, you'll find my interview with Sara Fitzgerald recorded 10 days after the opening of the collection. Click here to get the podcast. I first heard about the Emily Hale letters from Valerie Eliot herself, in 1986 or 1987. Valerie led me to believe that Hale had been a hanger-on whom T. S. Eliot had had to push away, who had exaggerated her relationship with him and placed the letters Eliot had written to her at Princeton against his wishes. I believed what she said, [...]

January 4th, 2020|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|Tags: , , , |

Telling Our Stories, Writing Our Lives

Originally published on the Berkshire Publishing blog in November 2016, and republished here in January 2020 because it is relevant to the opening of the Eliot letters to Emily Hale. My friend Emma once complimented me on an anecdote I’d told, saying, “I can dine out on that for years.” And there are a few stories about Emma and my days as housemates in London I still tell, especially the one about how we acted out the Lucan murder, on the stairs where it had taken place just a few [...]

January 4th, 2020|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|Tags: , , , , |