Partner Charlotte Perkins Gilman
673 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Greenlawn Memorial Park,1100 El Camino Real, Colma, CA 94014
Adeline E. Knapp (March 14, 1860 – c. June 1909) was an American journalist, author, social activist, environmentalist and educator, who is today remembered largely for her tempestuous lesbian relationship with Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Charlotte Perkins Gilman fantasized about the newspaper headlines that might result from the discovery of her love letters to the journalist and reformer Adeline Knapp: ‘Mrs. Stetson’s Love Affair with a Woman’.
In her lifetime, Knapp was known as a fixture of the turn-of-the-century San Francisco Bay Area literary scene. An outspoken writer who often addressed controversial topics in her columns for the San Francisco Call, Knapp wrote on a wide range of subjects from livestock to the Annexation of Hawaii. Though often drawn to progressive causes like child labor and conservation, Knapp also tended to espouse reactionary views, as evidenced by her anti-Chinese sentiments and criticisms of the women's suffrage movement. At a time when many American women were joining the movement to extend political and voting rights to women, Knapp spoke in state senate hearings in New York expressing doubts about the benefits of suffrage to women, and she allowed her speeches and letters on the topic to be used as propaganda by the anti-suffragism movement. Knapp was also the author of numerous short stories, as well as a novel set in the Arizona desert—works reflecting her outdoor enthusiast sensibilities, keen intellect, and interest in Western regionalism. These works, though praised in her lifetime, today have few readers among enthusiasts of Western fiction.
n April 1891, Knapp met the writer Charlotte Perkins Stetson (later Gilman), who had separated from her husband and recently moved to California. The two women soon became close friends, and in September, they began living together at 673 Grove Street. Their friendship was seemingly inseparable. However, time has shown that Knapp is often remembered today for her tempestuous relationship with Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Gilman wrote about Knapp in her autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, that "the pleasure in the new relation is that I now have some one to love me, and whom I love."
"It is possible, but not certain, that Charlotte and Delle were lovers", writes Gilman's biographer Ann Lane.
In 1909, Knapp died in California after a long illness. Her New York Times obituary printed June 26, 1909, quoted a recent letter summing up her career: "They said I made a hit, (in Hawaii,) but the experience convinced me that newspaper work does not offer a real career for a woman—the sacrifices are too great." For this reason, Knapp wrote, "I went away from cities altogether and lived for two or three years alone in a canyon in the Contra Costa foothills. I built a house there, a small one, all myself, cut down trees, tramped the woods, wrote a book or two, and did a lot of thinking."
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