Photo: Dale Robbins

Barbara Garson

Author and Social Activist

Barbara Garson is an author, activist and playwright who’s published a number of books about the changing lives of working Americans. Her most recent, Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession presents a sobering picture of what happens to a society when it becomes economically organized to benefit only the very rich and the quick-buck speculators.

Garson has authored over 150 articles in national publications as well as three other books: All the Livelong Day: The Meaning and Demeaning of Routine Work, The Electronic Sweatshop: How Computers Are Transforming the Office of the Future into the Factory of the Past and Money Makes the World Go Around: One Investor Tracks Her Cash Through the Global Economy.

Garson was only 25 when her play MacBird became a national sensation in 1966. A counterculture political parody of Macbeth, MacBird sold over half a million copies as a book and had over 90 productions worldwide.

In the early 1970s Garson moved back to her native New York and began publishing short, humorous essays and theater reviews primarily for The Village Voice. She wrote a number of plays, including the OBIE award-winning The Dinosaur Door, set on a class trip to the Natural History Museum.

Garson has a history of political activism. In her 20’s, while editing the Free Speech Movement Newsletter, she was arrested with Mario Savio and 800 others at a sit-in in Berkeley, California. During the Vietnam War, she was confined to the stockade at Fort Lewis Army Base with Jane Fonda. She was also arrested at the South African Consulate in New York City with Grace Paley and others as part of protest against Apartheid.

In 1992, Garson was the Socialist Party’s vice presidential candidate.

In addition to her OBIE, Garson’s awards and grants include a Special Commission from the New York State Council on the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the New York Public Library “Books to Remember” award and Library Journal’s “Best Business Books of 1989” award, as well as a MacArthur Foundation Grant. She also received the National Press Club Citation for magazine journalism and an A.B.C. Grant at the Yale School of Drama.

Garson earned a B.A. in classical history at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in New York City with her husband.