The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life

Welcome to a site celebrating classic women authors who wrote enduring literature. Here you’ll find their words of wisdom for readers and writers. Enjoy their life stories and quotations; learn more about their books; read their advice on the writing life; and enjoy contemporary voices on the writing process.

Maud Hart Lovelace

Maud Hart Lovelace

Maud Hart Lovelace (April 26,1892 –  March 11, 1980) was an American author best know for the Betsy-Tacy series of books for girls. Born and raised in Mankato, Minnesota, she enjoyed a happy childhood filled with friends, culture, and a loving family As soon as she could hold a pencil, she began writing stories and poems.

Maud Hart started her college studies the University of Minnesota, but shortly thereafter had to withdraw for health reasons. Escaping to the sun and warmth of  California to rest and recover, she lost no time in selling her first story to the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine. Only 18 years old at that time, that bit of good fortune paved the way for her writing ambitions.

Once recuperated and back to her studies, Maud continued to write and sell stories. College seemed less of a drew. She dropped out for good and instead she traveled solo to Europe to gather inspiration for her writing. In the spring of 1917, upon returning to her home base, the Wakefield Publicity Bureau offered a steady day job. She was hired to replace Delos Lovelace, a young writer who was headed off First Officers Training Camp. At a dinner hosted to hand off the position, the two hit it off and were married before the year was out. Read More→


6 poems by Jessie Redmon Fauset

Dead Fires
If this is peace, this dead and leaden thing,
Then better far the hateful fret, the sting.
Better the wound forever seeking balm
Than this gray calm!
Is this pain’s surcease? Better far the ache,
The long-drawn dreary day, the night’s white wake,
Better the choking sigh, the sobbing breath
Than passion’s death!

Twelve Great Literary Ladies, Twelve Valuable Lessons for the Writing Life

George Sand

Learning how to stay disciplined, grappling with doubt, failure, and rejection, finding one’s voice, struggling to stay solvent—we’ve all dealt with these issues. It’s comforting to know that Charlotte Brontë, George Sand, Louisa May Alcott, and others did, as well. But in the end, it’s not so much about experiencing these obstacles that matters, but overcoming them.

While researching The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life, I delved into the letters, journals, and memoirs of classic women authors. I found that certain challenges were just as universal among those who eventually became literary icons as they are among today’s writing women, whether seasoned or aspiring. Here are twelve nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from each of the Literary Ladies I’ve grown to know and admire:

Jane austenDon’t be overly modest. In popular imagination, Jane Austen is a demure, frilly cap-wearing artiste, hiding her writing efforts under a blotter. In truth, her family recognized her talent and were invested in seeing her work in print, as was she. Read More→


The Black Angels (1926) by Maud Hart Lovelace

The Black Angels by Maud Hart Lovelace

From the original review in The Oakland Tribune, Nov. 1926. In the eighties the theatre-loving world was on what might be termed a Pinafore jag. Light opera troupes, specializing in the presentation of the Gilbert and Sullivan musical hit, toured the land by the dozens. Some were good, many were bad, and a few were excellent. The latter, however, never found their way back into the Middle West or back country sections, but the former did in scattered bands. And it is with this little known phase of early American middle western life that Maud Hart Lovelace deals in her novel The Black Angels.

Although the story opens in Minnesota in the period just preceding the Civil War and carries through to the decline of the before-mentioned Pinafore rage, yet it is a tale of joyousness and dreams of youth. The story centers about the life and activities of three generations of the Angel family. They were called the Black Angels because of the raven shade of their hair, seven children of a music loving Scotchman who early settled in the Midwest and attempted to earn a precarious living by farming and teaching music. Read More→


Why am I imitating authors I admire?

agatha christie

Dear Literary Ladies,
Perhaps because I haven’t learned to trust my own voice, I sometimes find after I’ve written something, that it’s almost an homage to a writer I admire, and not very well done at that. Judging from my writers’ group, I know I’m not alone in this unconscious copying, but will I ever stop?

When you begin to write, you are usually in the throes of admiration for some writer, and whether you will or no, you cannot help copying their style. Often it is not a style that suits you, and so you write badly. But as time goes on you are less influenced by admiration. Read More→


Flannery O’Connor: Quotes on Writing and Literature

Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O’Connor (1925 – 1964) was  best known for her short stories that were described as “Southern Gothic.” Despite poor health she wrote every day, eventually producing  two novels and more than thirty short stories in an all-too-brief career. She had a lot to say about the art of writing, the writing life, and literature. Here’s a selection of quotes.

“People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them.”

“The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.”

“Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction. It’s not a grand enough job for you.” Read More→