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

Do I Have Enough Wisdom to Be a Good Writer?

Zora Neale Hurston

Dear Literary Ladies,
Sometimes I feel that I don’t have enough life experience to be a good writer. Everything I write, in hindsight, looks rather shallow and inauthentic. Should I wait until I’ve lived more fully, and gain some wisdom, before I bare my soul to the public in writing, or should I just plow ahead?  Read More→

Featured Essay

No Time, No Privacy, No Self-Discipline: Blasting Through Writing Excuses

writing still life

Too much to do and too little time, no room of one’s own, and no willpower to simply sit down and write—those are the Big Three of “why I’m not writing” excuses. Those obstacles were as true for women writers in earlier generations as they are for today’s writers, as I discovered in researching the writing lives of classic authors of the past for The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life.  Sure, you’re busy, but you may feel less overwhelmed when you learn that Harriet Beecher Stowe had seven children, and was in charge of all the household duties, aside from being responsible for bringing in at least half of its income. Still, she somehow found the wherewithal to complete Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book that’s been credited with shifting public attitude about slavery when it was published in 1853. In times past, a writer was truly alone with the blank piece of paper. Now, with most of us working on computers, fully wired, a new daily battle is fought against the constant distraction of the Internet, that sneaky demon lurking behind the blank page on the screen. How did writers past, the ones who ultimately succeeded gloriously, find time, privacy, and the will to write? Here are some nuggets of wisdom from several Literary Ladies: Read More→

Featured Author

Sackville-West, Vita

vita sackville-west

Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), English born poet and novelist, wrote of her life in the Kent countryside. Her first novel was published in 1909 when she was only seventeen years old. Sackville-West is known for her private life as well; she was bisexual and had many affairs with women, including Virginia Woolf. She enjoyed an open marriage with Harold George Nicolson, a writer and politician who was also bisexual. In creating an unusual family, including two successful sons, Nigel and Benedict, the couple was far ahead of time.

Vita Sackville -West focused mainly on fiction, but also put her passion for  gardening into essays and columns. The gardens she and her husband designed at their home, Sissinghurst Castle, are still visited and admired today. Read More→