Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Aug. 27, 1933, Nancy Colbert Friday grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and attended Ashley Hall, a local girls' college-preparatory school, then Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She worked briefly as a reporter for the San Juan Island Times and subsequently established herself as a magazine journalist in New York, England, and France before turning to writing full time, changing the world with her outspoken views on the sexual revolution and the feminist movement.
Nancy Friday's books about gender politics helped define American women’s sexuality and social identity in the late 20th century. But Ms. Friday was not considered a friend of the women’s movement.
She published My Secret Garden, her first book, in 1973. The book’s shocking premise was that women had erotic thoughts! Compiled interviews of women discussing their sexuality and fantasies, it became an instant bestseller. Friday wanted to explore female sexuality, relationships and the idea of fantasy from the woman's point of view. Using the same interview format in subsequent books, she ranged in theme from sexual fantasies to mothers and daughters, relationships, jealousy and envy, feminism, BDSM and beauty.
While her trailblaxing and popular early books were often derided as little more than soft-core pornography, 1977's “My Mother/My Self: The Daughter’s Search for Identity” argument that women’s relationships are shaped by the dynamics of their connection with their mothers was considered daring and original. Kirkus Reviews called the book ”a stimulating convergence of personal and cultural inquiry.” It remained on the New York Times best-seller list for over a year.
In 1996, she published an ambitious mix of cultural analysis, autobiographical confessional, pop psychology and sexology, The Power of Beauty (It is renamed and rereleased in paper-back form in 1999.)
She contributed an interview of porn star Nina Hartley to XXX: 30 Porn Star Portraits by photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (2004.)
Beyond My Control: Forbidden Fantasies in an Uncensored Age was published in 2009.
Friday published her first novel, Lulu, in 2012.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s she was a frequent guest on television and radio programs such as Politically Incorrect, Oprah, Larry King Live, Tomorrow (with Tom Snyder), Good Morning America and NPR's Talk of the Nation.
While it was the judgment of Ms. Magazine that "This woman is not a feminist," Friday predicated her career on the belief that feminism and appreciation of men are not mutually exclusive concepts.
Friday married novelist Bill Manville in 1967, separated from him in 1980 and divorced in 1986. Her second husband was Norman Pearlstine, formerly the editor-in-chief of Time Inc. They were married at the Rainbow Room in New York on July 11, 1988, and divorced in 2005.
She resided the last decades of her life in New York City.
New York Times bestselling author of LULU, My Secret Garden, Forbidden Flowers, Jealousy and Envy, My Mother/My Self, The Power of Beauty, Beyond My Control, Men in Love, and Women on Top. Nancy Friday.