The Restless Journey of  Marianne “Jolly” Robinson


by Marianne Robinson


Paperback / $20.00 / ISBN-13: 978-1-58790-206-2 / 180 pages / extensively illustrated / 7” x 9”


Autobiography / Women’s History / Labor History

Both mainstream and movement history too often focus on the lives of ‘great men.’ But who really does the work of grassroots movement-building? Singer, activist, working mother, poet, photographer, and writer, Marianne Robinson is one of many women who have held up their ‘half of the sky’ in progressive movements. Her moving autobiography spans many decades of cultural and political activity in People’s Songs, labor, women’s and anti-war movements from the 1940s onward.” —Suzanne Gordon, journalist, writer, and author of Nursing Against the Odds

 As a chronicle of Marianne Robinson’s unconventional life, Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire is a fast-moving personal story that describes her multidimensional life of commitment, change, and creativity. Poems, photos, and graphic images also serve to illustrate her restless journey.


 Among formative experiences of Robinson’s childhood and adolescence were an extended family and community of freethinkers, anarchists, and socialists; an experimental school; and many moves during the Great Depression and World War II. As she was hearing and learning songs of protest against fascism abroad and segregation at home, she witnessed race and class discrimination inside and outside the “liberal” village of her teens. That crucible formed the frying pan from which she leaped into the fire in 1946.

 Her adult life has been a juggling act of jobs, singing, activism, motherhood, poetry, photography, self-employment, and creative projects. Her daughter’s illness and death at 45 is expressed in her poems and in this book. The determination to make personal choices in the face of relentless economic necessity is a central theme in Robinson’s story. It is familiar to those who juggle jobs, single parenting, activism, and creativity in their pursuit of meaning and fulfillment in a society focused on college, career, and above all, upward mobility—”the race to the top.”

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