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.

Karen’s Letter: Finding Resilience

I’ve felt low this week and I’m not sure why. Of course I know why. The world’s in a mess, and my own country is amongst the worst of it. But I’m not sure why it struck me so hard this week. The feelings come in waves: I feel tense, angry, overwhelmed. I just want to be left alone. I don’t want to have another Zoom meeting. I want to have friends to supper. I want to sit at a bar with a martini with lots of people around me. But [...]

December 29th, 2021|Categories: Oddments|

Shanghai Book Review interview by QIU Xiaolong

This article appeared in Chinese in the Shanghai Book Review on 25 September, but I didn't see it until I woke up on the 26th, my birthday as well as T. S. Eliot's. It's wonderful to have it in Chinese, of course, because I've already heard from colleagues in China who saw it, but for those who don't read Chinese and would prefer something other than the Google Translate version, here's our original English exchange, which Qiu Xialong then translated. The Chinese version includes photographs I provided. QIU Xiaolong: It's [...]

September 26th, 2021|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|

Male potency in biography, autobiography, & other writing

A few novels I've read of late* are full of details about male sexuality, which led me to ask why there is so little sexual detail in biographies. Even when it comes to extramarital affairs, there is rarely anything about the frustrations or needs or entitlements that led to relationships that were often life-changing for all involved. I knew of one biography, Carl Rollyson, who writes about such issues, and I had a fresh appreciation for Lewis Mumford's candor about his difficulties with premature ejaculation as a young husband and [...]

June 27th, 2021|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|

A place to call home

Looking at this photo taken outside the Jane Hotel in New York reminds me of a time when I was at home in a city I haven't been to since the week before the US lockdown in March 2020. I lived around the corner with my then partner, and we had seen the effects of extreme weather the autumn before, when Hurricane Sandy flooded lower Manhattan. We were unable to return to our building for nearly a month. Here's what I wrote at the time: 12 November 2012 The need [...]

A wholesome loaf

We’re not the first people to need a better daily bread. A loaf  that is 100% whole grain and suitable for both toast and sandwiches. A loaf that is anyone can make, easily. As World War II progressed, the quality of bread in England became a major issue. The ordinary people of Britain were subsisting, often, on little more than tea and bread and jam. They couldn’t get supplies of American wheat because the ships that crossed the Atlantic would loaded with war-related goods, but no one knew how to [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: Food|

Sylvia Plath’s ghostly presence

I don’t know if Ted Hughes thanked his wife, Sylvia Plath, for typing in any of his acknowledgements, but he should have. She typed, and typed, and typed. She typed submissions for the poetry competitions that gave him early success. She typed the sets of poems he submitted to Fabers, which garnered the attention of T. S. Eliot, poet and publisher. But Plath herself was not published by Fabers until after her death in 1963, when Hughes, who had left her, negotiated a contract with Faber & Faber because he [...]

September 30th, 2020|Categories: Books, Writing a Woman's Life|Tags: |