Ellen Willis was the first rock critic for The New Yorker; she was also a radical feminist writer and activist. Her work appeared in The Village Voice, where she was a columnist, as well as in Rolling Stone and The Nation. Willis died in 2006 and an award-winning posthumous collection of her rock music essays was published in 2011 called Out of the Vinyl Deeps. It was edited by Willis’s daughter, Nona Willis Aronowitz, who’s just brought out a second collection of her mother’s work.
This collection is more focused on her explicitly feminist culture criticism. Our book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews The Essential Ellen Willis —-
"I’ve come to think her power as a writer didn’t derive so much from a poetic way with words as it did from the passion of her arguments and her first person witness. Thus, an extended essay called “Next Year in Jerusalem” that appeared in Rolling Stone in 1977 is riveting because Willis is so real about her own vulnerabilities.”
You can listen to the rest of her review here.
Photo of Ellen Willis in 1970 courtesy of Nona Willis-Aronowitz