In Search of Virginia Woolf’s Lighthouse, Godrevy Light

Godrevy Lighthouse in Cornwall, UK

 What is it that makes us long to see what the writers we love once saw? To stand in their footsteps? Do we imagine that some fairy dust will fall from nearby trees or rise from abandoned floorboards to bring us the wisdom or the art that flowed from their fingers to their manuscripts, whether through pens or pencils, typewriter keys, or pixels?

That’s what was on my mind on a visit to Cornwall, England, when I was determined to get to Godrevy Light, the lighthouse that inspired Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. Read More→

Lolly Willowes; or The Loving Huntsman by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Lolly Willowes; or The Loving Huntsman was the first novel by modernist author Sylvia Townsend Warner. Published in 1926, it’s now considered an early feminist classic. 

Considered comedy of manners, this novel is steeped in social satire. This collection of reviews was gathered in High Collars & Monocles: 1920s Novels by British Female Couples by Francis Booth, © 2020. Reprinted by Permission.

Following is a synopsis and two reviews from 1926, when the book was originally published. A more recent look back at Lolly Willows in the Guardian lauds it as a social satire and “an elegantly enchanting tale that transcends its era.” Read More→

10 Fascinating Facts About Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, French Portraitist

The portraitist by Suzanne Dunlap

Susanne Dunlap, author of the historical novel The Portraitist: A Novel of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (She Writes Press, 2022) presents ten fascinating facts about one of the two most important French female artists of the period before, during, and after the French Revolution.

About The Portraitist:

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard is ready to draw the line between art and politics in The Portraitist. Award-winning author Susanne Dunlap paints a historical retelling of real-life Adélaïe Labille-Guiard, a female portraitist and painter, and her earnest battle to win recognition as an artist in 18th-century Paris amidst the French Revolution. Read More→

“Rosefrail and Fair” — Lucia Joyce, Dancer Daughter of James Joyce

Lucia Joyce, James Joyce's Daugher

This introduction to the life of Lucia Joyce, a professional dancer and the talented, troubled daughter of James Joyce and Nora Barnacle is excerpted from Everybody I Can Think of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde  by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

Sylvia Beach, publisher of Ulysses, wrote in Shakespeare and Company about James Joyce’s family:

“I was very fond of them all: Giorgio, with his gruffness, hiding or trying to hide his feelings; Lucia, the humorous one – neither of them happy in the strange circumstances in which they grow up; and Nora, the wife and mother, who scolded them all, including her husband, for their shiftlessness.” Read More→

Quotes from My Story by Kamala Das, the Poet’s Autobiography

My Story by Kamala Das

Kamala Das (1934 – 2009), the Indian author and poet, was far ahead of her time. Even after her death, her words continue to hold much of relevance for Indian women — and perhaps for women across the world.

In addition to her poetry, she was known for her short stories as well as her autobiography, My Story. Here we’ll explore quotes from My Story, a book  both widely admired as well as controversial.

Kamala Das (later known as Kamala Surayya) believed in living life on her own terms, and this reveals itself in her writings. Her confessional poetry style wasn’t one readily adopted by Indian poets, least of all women. Her English poetry has been compared to that of Anne Sexton’s and won her recognition and literary awards during her lifetime. Read More→

Women Authors’ Friendships: Mutual Support & Companionate Rivalry

Lillian Hellman & Dorothy Parker

When it comes to women author’s friendships, it’s understood that the writers’ common struggles benefit from mutual support.  I wonder how much rivalry is involved, though, since writers can be an envious lot. 

There are few templates for friendships between women writers, especially after one or both achieves some measure of success. Yes, there is mutual support. And yes, there is a measure of envy and rivalry. 

This type of camaraderie has, and has always had, its delights as well as its complications. The well-known friendships between women who are now considered classic authors were no exception. Read More→

Margery Williams Bianco, Author of The Velveteen Rabbit

Margery Williams, author of The Velveteen Rabbit

Margery Williams Bianco (July 22, 1881 – September 4, 1944) was a British-American author and translator, best known for children’s books. Her most enduring work is The Velveteen Rabbit (1922). She received the Newbery Honor for Winterbound.

Margery William’s interest in writing was fueled by the encouragement she received from her father. As a renowned barrister and scholar, her father inspired his daughters to read and write, and by extension, fueled her passion to become a writer. Read More→

Envy & Inspiration: The Friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield

Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf

Literary mythology has often portrayed Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield as bitter rivals, but they were close friends and, for the most part, mutually supportive writing colleagues.

The rivalry between the two brilliant writers served as inspiration to both, a spur to do better. Virginia said of Katherine, “I was jealous of her writing. The only writing I have ever been jealous of.”

In October 1917, Virginia Woolf recorded in her diary her first, decidedly mixed impressions of fellow writer Katherine Mansfield. Katherine “stinks like a civet cat that had taken to street walking,” she wrote. “In truth, I’m a little shocked by her commonness at first sight; lines so hard & cheap. However, when this diminishes, she is so intelligent & inscrutable that she repays friendship.” Read More→