#WomensHistoryMonth Profile Friday
Himilce Novas (born 1944) is a novelist, historian, journalist and human rights activist. In the 1970s, she worked for Western Publishing’s Gold Key imprint as a writer and an editor.
Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1960 her family (including her father, writer Lino Novas Calvo) fled to the United States. Novas was educated in New York City, where she spent most of her life. She graduated from Hunter College.
Novas’ career spans several decades and encompasses works of fiction and non-fiction. Her published work includes poetry, plays, novels, reference books, and a cookbook about Latin American cuisine. She began her writing career as a teenager, when Nobel Prize laureate Camilo Jose Cela published her poems in his literary journal, Papeles de son Armadans. Later, she worked as a journalist, magazine editor and publicist for Vanidades, The New York Times, The Connoisseur, The Christian Science Monitor, and other publications.
In 1973, she took a job at Western Publishing “because I had made up my mind to do what I could to create role models for girls…there were almost no credible women heroes in comic books and all the characters, even the animal characters, were ‘he.’” She wrote and edited such titles as Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Tweety And Sylvester, Star Trek, Boris Karloff Presents, The Twilight Zone, and Underdog. The feminist sensibilities she wanted to work into comics is typified in her Twilight Zone story, “No Perfect Crime”, where the hero was a young woman who brought “benevolence and justice to humankind”.
As a human rights activist, Novas was an early member of the National Organization for Women, and a founder of the New York chapter; she also helped organize the first Women’s March down 5th Avenue. She continues to work on behalf of women and those in the LGBT community and was featured in the book Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975. She serves on the Board of Veteran Feminists of America.
In 2011, Himilce Novas was the recipient of a National Women’s Political Caucus “Women of Courage” Award. Among Other 2011 eight other recipients included Representative Nancy Pelosi, past Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman and Ambassador Mary Olmsted. The National Women’s Political Caucus established the NWPC Women of Courage awards to honor women from diverse backgrounds who have demonstrated courage by taking a stand on or against unpopular or controversial issues to further civil rights and equality, and who typify women’s leadership.
As a public speaker and visiting professor at educational institutions such as Wellesley College, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Clark University, Novas has specialized in a wide range of topics, including her own fiction and non-fiction works, Latino culture, feminism, and Gay and Lesbian history and culture. While living in Santa Barbara, Novas hosted the cultural interview radio talk show, The Novas Report, over KQSB 990-AM. She is a frequent contributor and has served as feature editor for The Multicultural Review.
In 2008, she married her partner of 18 years, the editor and writer Rosemary Silva. She currently divides her time between California and Arizona.