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Dear Fred,

Ursula Parrott was not afraid of working hard. In fact, she regularly pulled all nighters if she needed to meet a deadline and would, when necessary, write seven days a week for weeks on end.

But she loved going on vacation, too. Not just to rest and exercise (she walked, ran, fenced, rode horses, and swam) but for a change of scene. She enjoyed traveling to Bermuda and the West Indies, as well as to Europe and Russia. She set her stories in these locations, as well, taking notes on her trips and using her trusty set of Encyclopaedia Brittanica to fill in descriptive details.

This is how Ursula looked when she was photographed just prior to disembarking in New York City after a long trip Europe and Russia in 1934. The short story collection she published in 1935, Dream Without Ending, had stories she wrote during and after this trip, which were set in many of the locations she visited. As was usually the case for her, this was at least partly a working vacation.

Parrott suffered from exhaustion and anxiety when she had to work too much, and she understood this challenging work-life balance situation as a new problem facing a generation of career women like herself. She would have trouble sleeping and feel burned out. Ursula was right: it’s not easy! I discuss some of the hard work that went into writing Becoming the Ex-Wife, and how I approach my work as a professor and writer, in a just-published interview. I’m also writing an article about Parrott’s thoughts on burnout and work-life balance for women of her time for LitHub, so there will more on this topic later this summer!

But Ursula was always optimistic that she would turn the corner, clear the deck, and have the time and money to go on vacation and relax for a while. I think it’s fair to say that optimism and resilience were two of her defining characteristics.

Like Ursula, I often struggle with carving out time for relaxation. After months of nonstop work and stress, I’ve just returned from a much-needed vacation in Italy, during which I tried my best not to work! I did a digital detox—no Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I couldn’t ignore work emails entirely, but I tried to do as little emailing as possible. I did one work-related thing that made me very happy—picking up this vintage Italian edition of Ursula Parrott’s Ex-Wife!

With my new vintage Italian pulp magazine edition of Parrott’s Ex-Wife (Ex-Moglie) at Duomo in Milan!

With my new vintage Italian pulp magazine edition of Parrott’s Ex-Wife (Ex-Moglie) at the Duomo in Milan!

Speaking of travel, I am in the process of planning what looks to be a busy late summer and fall traveling the country to give talks about Ursula, introduce films that were adapted from her writing, and of course sign books.  If you are interested in hosting an event--at a movie theater, library, university, private club or a book store—please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thanks for reading,

Marsha Gordon

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