My First Thirty Years: A Memoir

My First Thirty Years: A Memoir

Thirty years ago, I lay in the womb of a woman, conceived in a sexual act of rape, being carried during the prenatal period by an unwilling and rebellious mother, finally bursting from the womb only to be tormented in a family whose members I despised or pitied, and brought into association with people whom I should never have chosen.

This is the searing opening to Edna Gertrude Beasley's raw and scathing memoir, originally published in Paris in 1925 but ultimately suppressed and lost to history--until now. Only five-hundred copies were printed, very few of which made it into readers' hands, having been confiscated by customs inspectors or removed from bookshelves by Texas law enforcement. Her book was essentially banned, her voice silenced.

In 1927, Beasley--a self-proclaimed socialist and staunch feminist who fought for women's rights--disappeared. Her fate remained a mystery until researchers began digging into her story. While living in London, she had been thrown out of her lodgings--for reasons that remain unclear--arrested and placed in a mental ward. A few months later, she returned to the U.S. and was committed to a psychiatric center on Long Island. She never left, dying there of pancreatic cancer in 1955.

My First Thirty Years reveals the story of a woman who grew up in abject poverty in rural Texas during the early 1900s, where she battled ongoing internal wars with herself concerning her family, faith, sexual reckoning, and quest for education at a time when women were not supposed to discuss those things. Beasley's memoir is one of the most brutally honest coming-of-age historical memoirs ever written. Her story deserves to be heard.

Publication Date: 
September 28, 2021