Ellen Jane Willis was an American left-wing political essayist, journalist, activist and pop music critic. She was the first rock critic for the New Yorker, an editor and columnist at The Village Voice, and wrote for numerous publications like Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Nation, and Dissent. She was a cofounder of the radical feminist group The Redstockings and No More Nice Girls, and the founder of the Cultural Reporting and Criticism Program at NYU. She died in November 2006.
She published three books of essays: Beginning to See the Light: Sex, Hope, and Rock & Roll; No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays; and Don’t Think, Smile: Notes on a Decade of Denial. A new anthology of her rock criticism, called Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music, was just released by U. of Minnesota Press.
"My deepest impulses are optimistic, an attitude that seems to be as spiritually necessary and proper as it is intellectually suspect."