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 do you develop the discipline to write?

madeleine L'engle

Dear Literary Ladies,
Some days, I just can’t find the resolve to work. I could blame all sorts of distractions and interruptions, but maybe it’s the discipline I lack. If words don’t flow right away, I’ll get up and find some fine excuse not to stick with it. How do you develop the discipline to just sit down and write?

Ultimately, you have to sit down and start to write. And even if all you do is type out “I can’t write this morning; I can’t write this morning; oh, bother, I can’t write this morning,” that will sometimes prime the pump and get it started. It is a matter of discipline. It is particularly a matter of discipline for a woman who has children or another job. Read More→

Featured Essay

L.M. Montgomery on Finding a Home for Anne of Green Gables – “Just One More Try”

Anne of Green Gables Cover 1945

Like many authors battered by continual rejection of a manuscript, L.M. Montgomery gave up and placed the worn Anne of Green Gables manuscript in a hatbox and gave up. After it languished in a freezing attic for nearly a year, Maud, as she was known to her familiars, decided to give it one more shot, sending it to Boston publisher L.C. Page.

Serendipitously, there she had an ally—a Prince Edward Island expatriate named Miss Arbuckle. One of the company’s readers, she was enchanted with the novel’s romanticized Island setting. Miss Arbuckle “quietly and persistently championed Anne to the other staff readers until several supported the novel,” according to Maria Rubio in Writing a Life: L.M. Montgomery.
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Featured Author

Potter, Beatrix

beatrix potter

Beatrix Potter’s (1866-1943) inspiration came from the nature and animals that surrounded her as a child and sprouted an imagination that would delight the world forever. Her extensive studies in art, literature, and science fueled her, as did her journal, where she kept ideas in her own coded language. Since she started drawing so young, she was able to perfect her craft by the time her work was to be published.

Peter RabbitInfluenced by fairy tales, fantasy, and religious imagery, Potter was able to sell her drawings to illustrate other writers’ work, and as illustrations for Christmas cards. When she found a home for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, both she and her publisher, F.W. Warne, were taken aback by its immediate popularity. Her illustrations and stories of whimsical animal characters are still a favorite today and can be found in the children’s section of any bookstore or library. Read More→

Classic Book Reveiew

Country Place by Ann Petry (1947) – a review

Country Place by Ann Petry - cover

From the original review in Corsicana Daily Sun, TX, October, 1947:  Ann Petry‘s Country Place tells the story of Johnny Roane, married to Glory a year before the war. He spends four years in he army and comes home with his heart aching for love of his wife.

A much less patient person, she could not endure a heart ache for that length of time. Living with Johnny’s parents, earning a meager living at Perkins’ store, she had been gallivanting around town while her husband gallivanted around the world, and just as Johnny becomes available once more, she decides she prefers Ed Barrell, who has been serving as husbands’ alternate for a number of consolable war widows. Read More→