Dalene Matthee’s South African “Forest Books” Novels

A lifelong advocate for environmental rights, South African author Dalene Matthee is renowned for her “Forest books” series. These four novels, originally written in Afrikaans, present narratives set in the country’s Knysna Forests.

Dalene Matthee’s (1938 – 2005) books have achieved international acclaim. They have been translated into multiple languages, including English, Icelandic, French, and German. More than a million copies of her works have sold. Read More→

Maria Edgeworth, prolific and influential English novelist

Maria Edgeworth

Maria Edgeworth (January 1, 1767 – May 22, 1849), was an Anglo-Irish author whose work has lately been considered deserving of reconsideration. She is best known for novels of Irish life and children’s stories.

Now overshadowed by her contemporaries, Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, there are compelling arguments in favor of why her work still matters.

The  following biography was adapted from the entry in Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1900, by Leslie Stephen (who happened to be Virginia Woolf’s father): Read More→

Elspeth Barker, Author of O Caledonia

notes from the henhouse by espeth barker

Elspeth Barker (November 16, 1940 – April 21, 2022) was a Scottish novelist and journalist. Her only novel, O Caledonia, published in 1991 and reissued in 2021, has been hailed as a classic of modern Scottish literature.

Darkly humorous, skillful, lyrical, and somewhat autobiographical, it tells the story of the life and death of a young girl named Janet. It won several awards on its first publication and remained Elspeth Barker’s only published work of fiction. Read More→

Elinor Glyn, a Biography by Anthony Glyn (1955)

Elinor Glyn by Anthony Glyn

Elinor Glyn (October 17, 1864 – September 23, 1943) was best known as the author of the scandalous 1907 novel Three Weeks and for coining the expression “It Girl.” The following is adapted from a review of Elinor Glyn, a biography by Anthony Glyn (her grandson).

Elinor Glyn: A Portrait of the Woman Who Gave IT a new meaning — and of the fabulous world in which she lived  originally appeared in the Orlando Sentinel, July 17, 1955:

Elinor Glyn is the writer who made the word IT synonymous with sex appeal. That was Sam Goldwyn’s idea, though Mrs. Glyn had a much more involved definition. Read More→

Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India by Gita Mehta

Snakes and Ladders by Gita Mehta

Gita Mehta (1943 – 2023) started her career in journalism, writing articles for Indian, European and American publications. She also filmed documentaries for British and American television before publishing her work in book form. This review presents Snakes and Ladders, a compilation of essays released to celebrate fifty years of Indian Independence. 

Reading Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India (1997) with the country having recently completed seventy-five years of Independence offers great insights.

It could almost be termed a “Ready Reckoner” for what India was twenty-five years ago and quite often, while reading it, I found  myself wondering about what has changed. Read More→

The Banning of Nadine Gordimer’s Anti-Apartheid Novels

What happened to Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer (1923 – 2013) was a South African activist and Nobel Prize-winning author. Presented here is an overview of the banning of Nadine Gordimer’s anti-apartheid novels and other writings, and her legacy as one of the most prominent and outspoken authors of the anti-apartheid movement.

Gordimer was born in Springs, South Africa to Jewish immigrant parents. Her early experiences informed the rest of her life, including witnessing a raid on her family home where a servant’s letters and diaries were confiscated.

Her first novel, The Lying Days, was published in 1953 when apartheid-era censorship by the South African government was at its height. Read More→

Enid Blyton, Prolific & Controversial Children’s Book Author

Enid Blyton (August 11, 1897 – November 28, 1968) was a prolific British writer of children’s stories. Her most famous books include The Famous Five  and Secret Seven series, The Faraway Tree, and the Noddy books.

She is believed to have written around seven hundred books altogether, along with hundreds of short stories, magazine articles, and poems.

Her work is controversial for its often dated and sometimes offensive views, yet decades after her death she remains one of the most popular children’s authors in the world. Read More→

Nadine Gordimer, South African Author and Activist

Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer (November 20, 1923 – July 13, 2013) was a South African activist and Nobel Prize-winning author. Her short stories and long form fiction explored themes of alienation, apartheid, and exile in the context of South African people.

She published her first short story collection in 1949, and her first novel,The Lying Days, in 1953. Many of her works, including July’s People and Burger’s Daughter, were banned by the apartheid government at the time they were published.

In addition to the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, and countless other awards and honors, she cofounded the Congress of South African Writers (COSAW) and was a notable member of the African National Congress (ANC). Read More→