Elsa Gidlow

Canadian-American poet

Elsa Gidlow (29 December 18988 June 1986) was an English-born, Canadian-American poet, freelance journalist, and philosopher. She is best known for writing On A Grey Thread (1923), possibly the first volume of openly lesbian love poetry published in North America, and for helping to establish Druid Heights, a bohemian community in Marin County, California.

Elsa Gidlow in 1981


  • We consider the artist a special sort of person. It is more likely that each of us is a special sort of artist.
    • As cited in West, Celeste, 1986, "In Memoriam: Elsa Gidlow", Feminist Studies, 12 (3), 614.
  • We are returned to mystery and the power of cooperating with life—rather than, as so often now, working against it.

Quotes about Elsa Gidlow

  • the memoirs of poet Elsa Gidlow and civil rights and peace activist Barbara Deming evidenced the struggle with which so many have engaged for a lesbian identity rooted in self-esteem and dignity. In publicly affirming who they were, each encouraged the sense of continuity and tradition central to the formation of lesbian archives.
    • Bettina Aptheker Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness, and the Meaning of Daily Experience (1989)
  • Superficially, she suggested that she was a very respectable and demure maiden lady, but someone had put raven's blood in her mother's milk.
    • Watts, Alan, 1972, In My Own Way, as cited in her obituary, June 10, 1986, San Francisco Chronicle.