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

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→

Featured Essay

10 Memorable Quotes from Pride and Prejudice

illustration from Pride & Prejudice by Brock

Every Pride and Prejudice fan can quote the famous opening line of Jane Austen’s beloved classic, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Here are twelve more memorable lines on life, love, and marriage:

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”  Read More→

Featured Author

Fisher, Dorothy Canfield

Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879-1958) was an American author, educational reformer, and social activist based in New England. Her ancestors settled in Vermont in 1764 and owned land there ever since. Her father James Hulme Canfield, was a college professor and president of several universities, and so the family valued education. Canfield Fisher’s was rather cosmopolitan, as she moved among several midwest university towns and traveled to France and Italy to broaden her scope. She spoke five languages and earned a doctorate in Romance languages and studied at the Sorbonne and at Columbia University.

She married John R. Fisher in 1907 and they lived on one of her family’s farms in Vermont. She continued to travel to Europe frequently but did most of her writing on the family homestead. Both Dorothy Fisher and her husband were closely affiliated with French issues, so upon the outbreak of World War I, they took their children and embarked for France to participate with relief work. Immensely involved in social activism, she was also an advocate of racial equality and women’s rights at a time when those causes were resisted by the mainstream. As if that weren’t impressive enough, Canfield Fisher was also instrumental in bringing Montessori education to the U.S., and helped popularize adult education. Read More→

Classic Book Reveiew

Frenchman’s Creek (1942) by Daphne du Maurier – a review

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier - cover

From the original review by Jane Corby in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 1942:  Only Daphne du Maurier could have written Frenchman’s Creek. Only a woman — an extraordinarily articulate woman at that — could have told this tale of the Lady Dona St. Columb, wife of an adoring, stupid Britisher of title, mother of two adorable children, who ran away with a French pirate in a spirit of enchanted midsummer recklessness, and returned to take up again the realities of the life to which she belonged.

Daphne du Maurier, as the readers of Rebecca will remember, has a genius for creating romance against a background of compelling English countryside This time she has chosen for her story a a period “in a century now forgotten,” and a place called Navron House, on the wild Cornish coast, in the wood that bordered a mysterious arm of the sea, the “Frenchman’s Creek,” as it became to a later generation.  Read More→