Shirley Abbott (author)

magazine editor and writer

Shirley Jean Abbott Tomkievicz (November 16, 1934 - April 8, 2019) was a magazine editor, writer, journalist, and historian, most noted for her three volumes of memoirs.


  • All fiction may be autobiography, but all autobiography is of course fiction.
    • Quoted in Mickey Pearlman, Listen to Their Voices (1993), ch. 12

Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South (1984)

  • We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.
    • p. 1 (opening lines)
  • Within our family there was no such thing as a person who did not matter. Second cousins thrice removed mattered.
    • p. 3
  • If I grew up in the simple-minded belief that women were as strong and intelligent as men, it was because I came from a society that had once believed it.
    • p. 45
  • People just showed up and were always made welcome. To stay less than an hour was an insult, and there was always a meal.
    • p. 164
  • The frontier will nevertheless survive in the attitudes a few of us inherited from it. One of those attitudes—to me a beatitude—is the conviction that the past matters, that history weighs on us and refuses to be forgotten by us, and that the worst poverty women—or men—can suffer is to be bereft of their past.
    • p. 210
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