Caresse Crosby, Patron of the Literary Lost Generation

Caresse Crosby

Caresse Crosby (born Mary Phelps Jacob; April 20, 1892 – January 24, 1970) was known as a patron to the Lost Generation and other expatriate writers in Paris of the late 1920s. With her second husband, Harry Crosby, she founded Black Sun Press, publishing early works of writers who would have a lasting impact.

And in an offbeat yet impactful turn of events, in 1914, Crosby became the first person to receive a patent for the modern bra in 1914. The following appreciation of Crosby’s Paris years is excerpted from Everybody I Can Think of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission. Read More→

Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys (1934)

Voyage in the dark by Jean Rhys

This review and analysis of Voyage in the Dark, a 1934 novel by Jean Rhys, is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century Woman’s Novel  by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

Jean Rhys (1890-1979) is best known for her novel Wide Sargasso Sea, a take on the Jane Eyre story from the point of view of the “madwoman in the attic,” Rochester’s wife, who, like Rhys, came from the Caribbean. It was finally published in book form in 1966 after years of tinkering and after a very long gap following her early novels, the first of which, Quartet, was published in 1928. Read More→

The Literary Friendship of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings & Zora Neale Hurston

The life she wished to live by Ann McCutchan

This musing on the friendship of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Zora Neale Hurston, two complex literary personalities, is excerpted and adapted from The Life She Wished to Live: A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Author of “The Yearling,” © 2021 by Ann McCutchan. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

In the summer of 1942, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was invited to speak at historically Black Florida Memorial College in St. Augustine. One of the instructors that term was Zora Neale Hurston. At the time, Zora was completing her memoir, Dust Tracks on a Road, covering her childhood in Eatonville, Florida’s first all-black incorporated city. Read More→

May Sinclair, British Novelist, Philosopher, and Suffragist

May Sinclair

May Sinclair, (born Mary Amelia St. Clair Sinclair; August 24, 1863 – November 14, 1946) was a British novelist, philosopher, poet, and suffragist who was regarded as England’s “leading woman novelist between the death of George Eliot and the rise of Virginia Woolf,” according to David Williams, a critic who wrote for Punch.

She explored the inner lives of ordinary women in some twenty-three novels, while also publishing two works of philosophy, a biography of the Brontës, several collections of poetry, and dozens of short stories.

May Sinclair is largely forgotten today. All of her works had fallen out of print when Virago Press, the noted British feminist publishing house, reissued three of her most significant novels in the early 1980s. At present, however, only The Life and Death of Harriett Frean (1922), which many regard as her masterpiece, is in print. Read More→

Maureen Daly’s Seventeenth Summer and the Birth of the Teenage Novel

Maureen Daly, American author of Seventeenth Summer, ca. 1950

Maureen Daly (1921 – 2006) was an Irish-Born American author and journalist, best known for the novel Seventeenth Summer (1942). Though twenty-one at the time of its publication, she wrote it while in her teens. Originally intended it for adult readers, it drew an enthusiastic audience of teens, and as such, is considered one of the early entries into the genre of Young Adult fiction. This appreciation of Seventeenth Summer is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century Woman’s Novel  by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

The rise of the teenager in the 1940s was accompanied by the rise of the teenage novel: novels written for and about – and even by – teenage girls. The 1940s and 50s saw several series of books by female authors about girls in their “seventeenth summer,” intended to be read by girls of around that age or younger; the exact demographic for the Sub-Deb columns in teen magazines and Betty Cornell’s advice columns. Read More→

Sylvia Beach: Legendary Paris Bookseller and Publisher

Sylvia Beach (1887 – 1962) was the legendary owner of the legendary bookshop Shakespeare and Company the meeting place for all of literary Paris in the 1920s, and the publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922. This musing on her active years in literary Paris is excerpted from Everybody I Can Think Of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

Beach wrote her own résumé towards the end of her life in a letter dated April 23, 1951, to the American Library in post-war Paris, when she donated the remaining books from Shakespeare and Company to them. Read More→

The Poetry of Loss: An Analysis of “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop 1934 Vassar yearbook portrait

Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle “One Art” was one of the first poems I read and analyzed at a college level. It’s also one of my favorites. Here is an analysis of “One Art” that can be interpreted from the perspective of wherever the reader is in their own life.

We’ve all, in our unique ways, experienced loss. Countless poems attempt to capture the nature of loss. Elizabeth Bishop was a detail-oriented writer, and the particularity of “One Art” makes the experience of reading it all the more sensitive and meaningful. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind poem.

“One Art” intimately captures the feeling of loss for the reader. Although the poem is mostly autobiographical, it simultaneously acts as a mirror, forcing the reader to reflect on their own losses. This is perhaps why “One Art” is so valuable and memorable. Its relatability makes it difficult to forget. Read More→

5 Romantic Fanfiction Tropes We Can Thank Jane Austen For

Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Stamp 2013

Not many authors are favored by serious literary scholars and casual readers alike, but Jane Austen is one of the chosen few. Writers continue to be inspired as well, as evidenced by the romantic fanfiction tropes we’ll explore here.

Many have pondered what makes Austen’s oeuvre so beloved by so many; personally, I think a huge part of her enduring relevance is that she popularized a number of classic tropes that we still see and love today, in everything from the erotic novellas of Anaïs Nin to everyone’s favorite rom-coms like Clueless.

You’ll also spot Austen in the more obscure corners of the internet, particularly in fandom. Both Austen titles and fanfiction are known for their romantic plots and protagonists who are set on finding true love — or just as often, those who have it thrust upon them unexpectedly. There’s even an established crossover of the two, with “Jane Austen Fan Fiction” (known to fans as JAFF) growing in popularity with the dawn of the Wattpad era. Read More→