Dell Williams

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Dell Williams (née Zetlin; August 5, 1922 – March 11, 2015) was an American businesswoman, and a nationally known advocate of women’s liberation, sexuality, and sexual health.[1][2][3] She was the founder and owner of Eve's Garden in Manhattan.


In 1945, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps. In 1974, she founded the first feminist sex toy business in the U.S., Eve's Garden, in New York City.[1][2][4] Eve's Garden was the first woman-owned and woman-operated sex toy business in America.[5] As Williams put it, "Eve represented all women and the Garden was symbolic of women taking responsibility for their 'own' sexuality."[6]

She was inspired to found the business after she took a “Body/Sex Workshop” by Betty Dodson in New York and afterwards went to buy a Hitachi Magic Wand for use as a vibrator, but found that the salesboy at Macy's asked her a nosy question about it.[1][7][8] Williams also attributed the founding of the store to having read Wilhelm Reich's The Function of the Orgasm in her early twenties.[9]

Williams was an actress for a time and appeared in productions of The Vagina Monologues.[8] Her most notable role may have been in a 1962 film, The Cliff Dwellers, a film which was nominated for an Academy Award. In addition to this, she was a singer, artists’ model, and writer during the 1930s and 1940s, and was later one of the first successful female advertising executives in New York City.[2]

Personal life[edit]

She was the daughter of Isaac and Sarah (née Bronstein) Zetlin. She was briefly married once, to Ted Willms, a variation of whose surname she retained professionally although the marriage was annulled. She had no children.[1]

Williams died in Manhattan on March 11, 2015, age 92.[1]


In 2005, her memoir, Revolution in the Garden, was published.[2] Some of her papers are held as the Dell Williams Papers in the Human Sexuality Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at the Cornell University Library.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e Fox, Margalit (March 14, 2015). "Dell Williams, 92, Founder of Sex Boutique". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c d Dell Williams & Lynn Vannucci. "Revolution in the Garden (9781596370388)". Retrieved 2012-11-24.
  3. ^ Williams, Dell. "United States Public Records Index". Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  4. ^ Janet K. Boles & Diane Long Hoeveler. Hd Feminism 2ed(52). Retrieved 2012-11-24.
  5. ^ "Official Eve's Garden Website". Retrieved 2014-10-30.
  6. ^ "Dell Williams profile". Retrieved 2012-11-24.
  7. ^ "Dell Williams A Sexual Pioneer for Women". Bitch Lifestyle. 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
  8. ^ a b "Good Vibes: Eve's Garden Founder Appears in West Side Benefit for Women". 2011-04-13. Archived from the original on 2013-12-14. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
  9. ^ Williams, Dell (August 1990). "The Roots of the Garden". The Journal of Sex Research. 27 (3, Feminist Perspectives on Sexuality. Part 2): 461–466. JSTOR 3812814.
  10. ^ "Guide to the Dell Williams Papers,1922-2008". Retrieved 2012-11-24.

Further reading[edit]

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