The Literary Ladies' Guide to the Writing Life

Welcome to a site celebrating classic women authors who wrote in the English language. 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.

Dear Literary Ladies

How can I find my unique writing voice?

willa cather

Dear Literary Ladies,
My desire to be a really good writer exceeds nearly all else. But like a lot of artists, I fear what I want most. It’s like I’m tripping over my own feet. I’m self-conscioius and that “trying too hard” style shows up in my writing. How can I get out of my own way and find my unique voice? Read More→

Featured Essay

Five Classic Women Writers Answer the Question, “Why Write?”

Anaïs Nin in Wrap

Those of us who scratch out sentences and paragraphs that we hope to turn into publishable prose have often paused to ponder the “why” of writing. When it goes well, it can all-consuming, like a passionate love affair. But when the going gets tough, or when self-doubt creeps in, “why” can become “what’s the point?”  Read More→

Featured Author

Brontë, Charlotte

Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Brontë’s (1816-1885) life as a writer is both romantic and tragic. Born in a small Yorkshire village, she was part of a clerical family that valued education for their daughters as well as their sons. She lived to tell the tale of how the three sisters took masculine pseudonyms to improve their chances of finding publishers, and the challenges and prejudices they faced in their pursuits.

Her brother and two literary sisters, Emily Brontë and Anne Brontë, died tragically young of illness when barely out of their twenties; she herself lived only to age 39, from complications dues to pregnancy. Her story is one of sheer genius meeting tireless determination. Some of her contemporaries said of Charlotte that she would have traded her genius for beauty.

It took a long time for Charl0tte’s work to be appreciated. The manuscript for The Professor was making its rounds and been rejected everywhere, while her sister Emily had found a home for two of her novels. There was a glimmer of hope when one publisher responded that she should send her next work to them, so she wrote and sent the mauscript for Jane Eyre, which was published just six weeks after its acceptance, and was an immediate bestseller.  She approached fiction writing in such an original way that it attracted many to her romantic tales and gained her neverending importance in the world of literature. Read More→