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Out of the Air

By Inez Haynes Irwin

“… so I’ll answer your questions in the order you ask them. No, I don’t want ever to fly again. My last pay-hop was two Saturdays ago, and I got my discharge papers yesterday. God willing, I’ll never again ride anything more dangerous than a velocipede. I’m now a respectable American citizen, and for the future, I will confine my locomotion to the well-known earth. Get that, Spink Sparrel! The earth! In fact…” David Lindsay suddenly looked up from his typewriting. Under his window, Washington Square simmered in the premature heat of an early June day. But he did not even glance in that direction. Instead, his eyes sought the doorway from the front room to the back of the apartment. He was not seeking inspiration; he had been suddenly jerked out of himself. After an absent second, his eye sank to the page, and the brisk clatter of his machine began again.

“… after the woman you recommended, Mrs. Whatever-her-name-is, shoveled off a few tons of dust. It’s great! It’s the key house of New York. And when you look right through the Arch straight up Fifth Avenue, you feel you own the whole town. And what an air all this chaste antique New England stuff gives it! Who’d ever thought you’d turn out your big rough-neck to be an antique collector? Not that I haven’t fallen myself for the sailor’s chest and the butterfly table and the glass lamps. I salaam to that sampler. And these furnishings seem especially appropriate when I remember that Jeffrey Lewis lived here once. You don’t know how much that adds to the connotation of this place.”

Again, but absently, Lindsay looked up. And again, ignoring Washington Square, which offered the effect of a formal garden to the long pink-red palace on its north side: plumy treetops, geometrical grass areas, weaving paths, and elegant little summerhouses. His gaze went with a seeking look to the doorway.

“Question No. 2. I haven’t any plans of my own at present, and I am pretty eligible for what you suggest. You say that no one wants to read anything about the war. I don’t blame them. I wish I could fall asleep for a month and wake up with no recollection of it. I suppose that state of mind prevents people from writing their recollections immediately. Of course, I think we’ll all do that ultimately, even people who, like myself, aren’t professional writers.

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Inez Haynes Irwin

Inez Haynes Irwin (March 2, 1873 – September 25, 1970) was an American feminist author, journalist, member of the National Women’s Party, and president of the Authors Guild.


Many of her works were published under her former name, Inez Haynes Gillmore. She wrote over 40 books and was active in the suffragist movement in the early 1900s. Irwin was a “rebellious and daring woman” but considered herself “the most timid of created beings”. She died at the age of 97.

Irwin was a close friend of the American feminist writer Mary MacLane, who in 1910 included a colourful personality portrait of Irwin in her newspaper articles in Butte, Montana.

Writing career

Apart from the non-fiction works noted above, she published over 30 novels, including Angel Island (1914), a “radical feminist Swiftian fantasy” about a group of men stranded on an island occupied by winged women. Angel Island was republished in 1988 as a “classic of early feminist literature” with an introduction by science fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin. Her fiction often addressed feminist issues and the plight of women, including divorce, single parenthood and problems in the workplace.

Her 15-book “Maida” series of children’s books was written over 45 years ago and tells the story of a schoolgirl whose mother has died and whose father is very wealthy.

She also wrote short stories for magazines, including “The Spring Flight,” which in 1924 won her the O. Henry Memorial Prize.


Author’s Guild of America, vice-President, 1930–1931; president, 1931–1933
National Collegiate Equal Suffrage League, co-founder
Chairman of the board of directors of the World Center for Women’s Archives, 1936–1938/1940.
Member of American committee of Prix Femina, 1931–1933
Source: Feminist Science Fiction, Fantasy and Utopia


O. Henry Award, 1924 – for her short story, “The Spring Flight.”
Source: Feminist Science Fiction, Fantasy and Utopia


  • June Jeopardy, Huebsch, 1908
  • Phoebe and Ernest, Holt, 1910 – illustrated by R. F. Schabelitz
  • Janey: being the record of a short interval in the journey through life and the struggle with society of a little girl of nine, Holt, 1911
  • Phoebe, Ernest, and Cupid, Holt, 1912 – illustrated by R. F. Schabelitz
  • Angel Island, Holt, 1914 – reprinted, Arno, 1978; new edition, NAL Plume, 1988 with an introduction by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Ollivant Orphans, Holt 1915
  • The Lady of Kingdoms, George H. Doran, 1917
  • The Happy Years, Holt, 1919
  • Out of the Air, Harcourt, 1921
  • The Lost Diana (novella), Everybody’s Magazine, June 1923
  • Discarded, serialized in The American Magazine, May–November 1925
  • Gertrude Haviland’s Divorce, Harper, 1925
  • Gideon, Harper, 1927
  • P.D.F.R.: A New Novel, Harper, 1928
  • Family Circle, Bobbs-Merrill, 1931
  • Youth Must Laugh, Bobbs-Merrill, 1932
  • Strange Harvest, Bobbs-Merrill, 1934
  • Murder Masquerade, H. Smith & R. Haas, 1935
  • Little Miss Redhead, Lothrop, 1936 – self-illustrated
  • The Poison Cross Mystery, H. Smith & R. Haas, 1936
  • A Body Rolled Downstairs, Random House, 1938
  • Many Murders, Random House, 1941
  • The Women Swore Revenge, Random House, 1946

Inez Haynes Irwin

Inez Haynes Irwin