About This Site

Presumption and Folly is a site dedicated to writing by (and sometimes about) women veterans. My goals are to curate writing by women veterans, to bring it to a wider audience, and to encourage more women veterans to write about their experiences.

The project began in 2013, when I started developing a version of the Veterans Writing Project’s seminar exclusively for women. Our curriculum, Writing War, was full of examples of the writing craft from the work of veterans from Leo Tolstoy to Tobias Wolff; but only one woman veteran – Vera Brittain, a British nursing assistant in World War I – was represented. I decided to find more examples from writing by women veterans. It turned out to be harder than I’d anticipated.

In March 2014, Cara Hoffman (author of Be Safe I Love You) asserted in a New York Times op-ed that “stories about female veterans are nearly absent from our culture.” Kayla Williams, a former Army linguist and the author of two memoirs about her service in Iraq and her marriage to another former soldier with a traumatic brain injury, responded two months later in the Los Angeles Review of Books with a list of “essential contemporary war literature by women.” Both articles challenged me to go deeper – to attempt a more comprehensive survey of writing by women veterans, to think about what women veterans are and aren’t writing, and to consider how we tell our stories. The blog posts on this site represent that attempt.


“Deborah Sampson,” by sculptor Lu Stubbs, at the entrance to the public library in Sharon, Massachusetts. Stubbs depicted Sampson in a dress, with her uniform coat draped on her right shoulder, carrying her tricorne hat and resting her rifle.

The title of the blog, Presumption and Folly, is taken from a quote attributed to Continental Army veteran Deborah Sampson Gannett – but probably invented by her biographer, newspaper editor Herman Mann, for his own purposes. You can read that story in my inaugural post.

I hope you enjoy Presumption and Folly. Respectful discussion of the works curated here is encouraged. If you know of a memoir, story or novel, or poem by an author not listed in the bibliography, or if you’d like me to review a work by a woman veteran, please let me know!

About Me:

I’m a retired naval officer, a writing instructor for the Veterans Writing Project, managing editor of the literary journal O-Dark-Thirty, and a working writer with a few short pieces published in journals and newspapers.

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