The Feminine Mystique, published February 19, 1963, by W.W. Norton and Co., is a nonfiction book by Betty Friedan. It is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States.
In 1957, Friedan was asked to conduct a survey of her former Smith College classmates for their 15th anniversary reunion; the results, in which she found that many of them were unhappy with their lives as housewives, prompted her to begin research for The Feminine Mystique, conducting interviews with other suburban housewives, as well as researching psychology, media, and advertising. She originally intended to publish an article on the topic, not a book, but no magazine would publish her article.
The Feminine Mystique is widely regarded as one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century, and is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States. Futurist Alvin Toffler declared that it "pulled the trigger on history." Friedan received hundreds of letters from unhappy housewives after its publication, and she herself went on to help found the National Organization for Women, an influential feminist organization.
By the year 2000, The Feminine Mystique had sold more than 3 million copies and had been translated into many foreign languages.