Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer, Freelancer

One of the incidental pleasures of Judith Major’s new book on pioneering architecture critic Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer is the glimpse it gives into the life of a cultural journalist at the turn of the past century. Van Rensselaer often referred to herself as the “breadwinner” of the family. “Did she really need the money is beside the point. Van Rensselaer simply wanted to be treated as a professional and to be paid the same as male critics,” Major told me. “She asked Century editor Richard Watson Gilder in 1897 for the going rate of $30 per thousand words — approximately $760 today.”