Confessional journalists have people like Mary MacLane to thank for their blunt style of autobiographical writing. The 19-year-old girl from Butte, Montana shocked everyone after publishing I Await the Devil’s Coming in 1902 — perhaps even her publisher who changed the title to The Story of Mary MacLane. She was a self-proclaimed genius that lusted after the Devil, wrote about her desire for other women, and became a best-selling sensation practically overnight. Melville House has released a new edition of the unflinching memoir with an introduction by Bookslut’s Jessa Crispin. We read a passage from I Await the Devil’s Coming printed in the New Yorker this week and felt inspired to round up other juicy memoirs written by women. Feel free to share your own recommendations, below.
Mary MacLane was inspired by 19th-century Ukrainian artist Marie Bashkirtseff’s memoir I Am the Most Interesting Book of All — a confessional diary that was published posthumously and heavily edited by her overbearing mother. Bashkirtseff’s radical stories about her family, the struggles of being a woman in the art world, and her feminist explorations (many of them published in the newspaper La Citoyenne) might sound tame in our time, but she was a star amongst the Parisian intelligentsia.