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 afraid to take risks with my writing?

madeleine L'engle

Dear Literary Ladies,
I want to go in a new direction with my writing. But I’m afraid I’ll fail and feel foolish. Can you give me any encouragement that will help me take some risks with my work and get out of my comfort zone?  Read More→

Featured Essay

Three Classic Women Authors Answer the Eternal Question, How Do Writers Get Ideas?

Willa Cather

Published authors are often asked “how do you get your ideas?” This is a question that defies easy answer, if it can be answered at all. Most often, ideas seem to find you, not the other way around. Of course, something you see, hear, or read can ignite sparks of inspiration, but the day-to-day work habits you develop can fuel the inception and development of ideas. Here, Louisa May Alcott, Willa Cather, and Madeleine L’Engle share a common technique: they consciously allowed seedlings of ideas to blossom in their heads before setting them to paper.  Read More→

Featured Author

Plath, Sylvia

sylvia plath

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was a gifted writer of poetry and fiction whose life ended all too soon. Triggered by the death of her father when she was eight years old, a deep-rooted depression took root and led to a life of struggle. She made no pretense about the degree of her pain in her writings. Plath’s poetry is part of the “confessional movement,” frank and revelatory about her personal life and innermost thoughts.

As her depression deepened, her family and success weren’t enough to keep her from taking her own life. She was only thirty, and had two small children. After her death, more of her work was released, and continues to be widely studied writings. Colossus was the only work published during her life, and her Collected Poems, edited and published by her husband Ted Hughes after her death, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982. Read More→