Valerie Jean Solanas (April 9, 1936 – April 25, 1988) was an American radical feminist and author best known for writing the SCUM Manifesto and attempting to murder artist Andy Warhol in the late 1960s.
As a teenager, she had a volatile relationship with her mother and stepfather after her parents' divorce. As a consequence, she was sent to live with her grandparents. Her alcoholic grandfather physically abused her and Solanas ran away and became homeless. She came out as a lesbian in the 1950s. She graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Solanas relocated to Berkeley, California. There, she began writing her most notable work, the SCUM Manifesto, which urged women to "overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and eliminate the male sex".
Solanas moved to New York City in the mid-1960s, working as a writer. She met pop artist Andy Warhol and asked him to produce her play, Up Your Ass. She gave him her script, which she later accused him of losing and/or stealing, followed by Warhol expressing additional indifference to her play. After Solanas demanded financial compensation for the lost script, Warhol hired her to perform in his film, I, a Man, paying her $25. In 1967, Solanas began self-publishing the SCUM Manifesto. Olympia Press owner Maurice Girodias offered to publish Solanas's future writings, and she understood the contract to mean that Girodias would own her writing. Convinced that Girodias and Warhol were conspiring to steal her work, Solanas purchased a gun in the spring of 1968.
On June 3, 1968, she went to The Factory, where she found Warhol. She shot at Warhol three times, with the first two shots missing and the final one wounding Warhol. She also shot art critic Mario Amaya, and attempted to shoot Warhol's manager, Fred Hughes, point blank, but the gun jammed. Solanas then turned herself in to the police. She was charged with attempted murder, assault, and illegal possession of a gun. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and pleaded guilty to "reckless assault with intent to harm", serving a three-year prison sentence, including treatment in a psychiatric hospital. After her release, she continued to promote the SCUM Manifesto. She died in 1988 of pneumonia in San Francisco.
She is also known as Valerie Jean Solanas.
On April 25, 1988, at the age of 52 (and 14 months after the death of Andy Warhol), Solanas died of pneumonia at the Bristol Hotel in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. A building superintendent at the hotel, not on duty that night, had a vague memory of Solanas: "Once, he had to enter her room, and he saw her typing at her desk. There was a pile of typewritten pages beside her. What she was writing and what happened to the manuscript remain a mystery." Her mother burned all her belongings posthumously.