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 former trustee of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Press, a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and the founder of the Train Campaign. Subscribe to Karen’s Letter @Substack https://karenchristensen.substack.com or try her Home Ecology newsletter. She can also be found on Twitter @karenchristenze.

Foraging & fiddleheads

Long before lockdown began in Massachusetts, I’d been laying in supplies at the urging of my son in Beijing, who’d already been through it. I started planning a vegetable garden, but was a little concerned about getting enough fresh vegetables. It would be ages until there was anything from the garden, I thought, until I realized that the rather annoying ferns that are endlessly trying to dominate the beds around my house are in fact the variety that produce edible fiddleheads. Then I learned that hostas, another plant I have [...]

May 13th, 2020|Categories: Food, Garden|

The Social Life of Reading

I was involved in a forum conversation about print and digital books last week, which inspired me to take this photo of some of the books I was given by the family of a British biographer. The biographer herself, Carole Seymour-Jones, had died before we could meet, but she'd been very positive on the phone and her family offered me her books to help with my related project. They are full of her notes, occasional letters and receipts, and even a pencil marking a place. Another biographer, the late Deirdre Bair, [...]

April 18th, 2020|Categories: Books, Writing a Woman's Life|

The Love of a Good Woman

This is my account of the first day at Princeton, 2 January 2020, published in Time Present and in the T. S. Eliot Studies Annual, Volume 3, edited by John D. Morgenstern (General Editor), Julia E. Daniel, and John Whittier-Ferguson. I read T. S. Eliot’s first love letter to Emily Hale side by side with Daniel Bates, a Brooklyn-based stringer for the Daily Mail. After a few paragraphs we looked at each other, speechless. We had been surprised but not speechless when we read Emily Hale’s brief statement, her account [...]

April 16th, 2020|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|

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|