To understand the controversy that Billie presented one must first go to the root or source of such controversy and examine Billie's childhood. Billie was born Eleanora Harris to her father Clarence Holiday and mother Sadie Fagan who were just fifteen and thirteen years old, respectively, at the time (A 91). Born between 1912 and 1915 in Baltimore, the date unsure, Billie grew up without her father, who moved away early on in her life.
Billie and her mother used to fight a lot, when her mother was around. Much of the time Billie was left in the care of relatives or friends, many of whom were unloving (E). Billie's relationship with her family was very weak, as Billie throughout her life and career never or rarely got family approval or recognition (W 13). The extent to which Billie did not get along with her family is evident as she was chastised for her grandmother's death at the age of six (E). The turmoil within Billie's family was manifested when Billie commented later on in life that "As far as I'm Concerned, all the Fagans are dead" (W 14). This made her family very mad and lead to their further abandonment of Billie. Aside from the superficial tension between Billie and her mother, they did their best to remain loyal to one another and provide for each other (W 201).
As Billie grew older, life grew harder and reality slowly became more and more real for her. At age 10, Billie was raped, further strengthening Billie's image of reality. As Billie grew older she became carefree and grew to have a strong temper. One musician remembers Billie as "a child, 11 or 12 years old, shouting the worst words she knew in the street, anxious to be grown up" (W 35). And on the numerous occasions when Billie's mother was out of town, she would be out having fun without any worries.
Billie grew accustomed to using men to get money. Billie would pick up guys, pretending to be a hooker, and then she and her friend would jump him and take his money (W 28). "She...
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