Lillian Hellman

Lillian Hellman

Lillian Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was a renowned American playwright and memoirist, born in New Orleans. Her plays dealt with difficult subject matter, and were very well received at a time when she was a pioneering female playwright. Growing up between New Orleans and New York, she was educated at NYU and Columbia University.

The Children’s Hour (1934) was the play that launched Hellman’s career in theater. This was followed by number of other successful productions, the best known of which are The Little Foxes, Watch on the Rhine, and Toys in the Attic.

She was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Prize for best play of the year for the latter two. Though The Autumn Garden, which premiered in 1951, is perhaps not one of the first of her works that comes to mind, many critics considered it her best. Read More→

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Without the Veil Between — Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit by DM Denton

An introduction to and excerpt from Without the Veil Between: Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit — a novel by DM Denton: When I set out, well over two years ago, to write a fiction about Anne Brontë, youngest sister of Charlotte and Emily, I doubted I would find enough material to produce something longer than a novella. Before the first part was finished, I was convinced there was more than enough for a novel.

My objective didn’t change as pages filled and multiplied. I wanted to present Anne as a vital person and writer in her own right, as crucial to the Brontë story and literary legacy as her more famous and — in her brother Branwell’s case — infamous siblings were. As anyone who ventures off the Brontë beaten path might, I soon realized Anne had a very independent, intelligent, inspiring story to explore, take to my heart and soul, and tell. Read More→

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Writer’s Block: Lower Your Standards to Write Better

Anais Nin

Do you have the dreaded cognophobia? It’s a Latin term that translates literally as “fear of thinking” or fear of facing your own thoughts. You may experience it as writer’s block.

“A writer must feel comfortable expressing herself in words, letting them flow before critiquing them or subjecting them to examination,” say Linda Metcalf and Tobin Simon in Writing the Mind Alive. “Many people who have an ambition to write are held back at the starting gate by some form of this condition.” Read More→

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She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir

She Came to Stay - Simone de Beauvoir

She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir was originally published in France in 1943 as L’Invitee. The autobiographical, philosophical novel was based on de Beauvoir’s open relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre, and takes place just before and during World War II.

The novel’s main character, Françoise, is based on de Beauvoir herself, and Pierre is a thinly veiled Sartre. A younger woman, Xaviere, enters their lives as they form a ménage a trois. Xaviere is a mash-up of sisters Olga and Wanda Kosakiewicz. Read More→

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Should I take time off work to write full time?

Flannery O'Connor

Dear Literary Ladies,
I’ve saved a bit of money, and I’m considering taking a few months or a year off of work to write full time. I want to see if I can make a go of it, once and for all. Is this a good idea, or would I be putting too much pressure on myself? 

It might be dangerous for you to have too much time to write. I mean if you took off a year and had nothing else to do but write and weren’t used to doing it all the time then you might get discouraged too easily. Read More→

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The Gilded Six-Bits by Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston - the Complete Stories

In “The Gilded Six-Bits,” a short story, as well as her other works of fiction and essays, one sees Zora Neale Hurston’s wide scope as a writer. She takes on various topics from marital bliss to the national welfare, writing as a gifted author of fiction, a knowledgeable anthropologist, and a rigorous critic. Hurston was a key player in the Harlem Renaissance. Her membership there, however, was never secure. Langston Hughes, once a friend and collaborator, became one of her bitterest detractors.

Always unconventional, she struck many as overly conservative, as she actually promoted southern segregation for a while, arguing that forced integration was an insult to the African-American community. She died penniless and nearly forgotten. Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple) receives credit for tracking down Hurston’s lost grave and bringing her celebrated works back to the public eye. Read More→

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