Yglesias, Helen (1915 - 2008)

Genre: General Fiction, Non-Fiction

Born (March 29, 1915) and educated in New York, Helen Yglesias lived in New York City and, until several years before her death on March 28, 2008, in Brooklin, Maine. Her second husband, from whom she was divorced in 1992 after 42 years of marriage, was the writer Jose Yglesias. Her son is the novelist Rafael Yglesias. His son is Matthew Yglesias the political blogger.

Although Helen Yglesias always thought of herself as a writer, she did not start writing full time until she was 54. Prior to that, family responsibilities required her to earn money in other ways. During her five years (1965 to 1969) as the literary editor of The Nation, she became convinced she had the ability to write as well as, if not better than, many of the authors whose work she reviewed. She subsequently resigned her position and became a full-time writer.

Yglesias was an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Arts and visiting faculty at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She contributed to The New Yorker, Harper's, and The New York Times Book Review. Yglesias was also a frequent reviewer for Wellesley College's Women's Review of Books.

Selected Bibliography


  • How She Died(1972) dealing with cancer
  • Family Feeling (1976), a portrait of adult children of Jewish immigrants
  • Sweetsir (1981), whose protagonist is a battered wife, and which is based on the true story of a New England woman
  • The Saviors (1987), which concerns idealism as an aging radical looks back over her life
  • The Girls (1999) about four sisters in the 90's facing life and death

Non-fiction titles

  • Starting Early, Anew, Over, and Late (1978)contains a chapter titled 'Autobiographical Fragment'in which she describes her decision to become a full-time writer.
  • Isabel Bishop (1989)
  • Semblant (1996) Only 25 copies of Semblant, to which Yglesias contributed an essay on the German painter Paula Moderdohn-Becker, were produced by the Gehenna Press, Rockport, Maine.