Signed Genêt: Janet Flanner’s Letters from Paris

Janet Flanner, American writer and correspondent

Janet Flanner (March 13, 1892 – November 7, 1978) was an American writer and journalist, best known for her fifty-year stint as The New Yorker’s Paris correspondent. Writing under the pen name Genêt, she became synonymous with the inter-war expatriate scene in Paris, and her prose style epitomized and influenced the magazine’s journalism to such an extent that it came to be known as “The New Yorker style.”

Over the years, her work for the magazine extended far beyond Paris into broader European politics and culture, encompassing a regular “London letter” and several one-off pieces from a war-scarred Germany.

Her legacy was such that even she was forced to acknowledge, towards the end of her life, that she had created “the form which all other foreign letters consolidated by copying my copy…” and Glenway Westcott called her “the foremost remaining expatriate writer of the Twenties.” Read More→

12 Jane Austen-Themed Activity Books: Crafting, Cooking, Coloring, & More

Tea with Jane Austen

What would Jane Austen (1775–1817), who had challenge enough finding publishers and readers in her lifetime, think of the fierce devotion to her exquisite body of work ever after? There’s even a name for those with an enduring passion for the author — Janeites — and Jane Austen Societies all over the world. Here’s a selection of Jane Austen-themed activity books for the most devoted Janeites on your list — or for yourself!

Here you’ll find gift books featuring activities inspired by Jane Austen’s world and her novels, including sewing, embroidery, crochet, coloring, cooking. You’ll even find an Austen-themed cocktail book, and the ultimate activity — a travel guide to Jane’s places in England. Read More→

Charlotte & Arthur by Pauline Clooney: Imagining Charlotte Brontë’s Honeymoon

Charlotte and Arthur by Pauline Clooney

Charlotte & Arthur by Pauline Clooney (2021) is a richly imagined novel about the wedding and subsequent Irish honeymoon of Charlotte Brontë and Arthur Bell Nichols, the curate who worked with her father at Haworth parsonage. 

This illuminating narrative is based on meticulous research by Ms. Clooney, an award-winning short story writer and the founding director of Kildare Writing Centre in Ireland. This is her first full-length novel.

The novel focuses on a little-known time in Charlotte’s life. Though she’s a celebrated author at home and abroad, the siblings she grew up with (Emily, Anne, and Branwell Brontë) all died several years earlier, leaving only Charlotte and her father, the Reverend Patrick Brontë, from a family that once numbered eight members.  Read More→

Scarborough, England: Anne Brontë’s Final Resting Place

How is it that Anne Brontë (1820–1849) was laid to rest in the seaside town of Scarborough, and not in Haworth, the enclave in the Yorkshire moors where the others in her immediate family were buried? Here we’ll explore how Anne came to be connected with Scarborough, and how she came to be buried there.

Anne Brontë, the youngest of the literary Brontë sisters, was often described as the gentlest and quietest of the trio, which included Charlotte and Emily. Unfortunately, the career of this talented writer was cut short, as she didn’t even reach the age of thirty when she died of consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis) in 1849. 

Following her brother Branwell’s death in September of 1848 (at the age of thirty-one), Emily, with whom Anne had always been closest, became ill. Wracked with misery, she refused medical attention until it was too late, and died in mid-December of that same year at the age of thirty. Read More→

Brontë Fanfiction: Paying Homage to (or Starring) the Brontë Sisters

The Brontë fanfiction canon isn’t as voluminous as the fanfic genre dedicated to Jane Austen. The Brontë sisters — Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—between them wrote just seven finished novels in their short lifetimes, but the lasting impact they’ve had on world literature can’t be overstated. 

For a time, the sisters feared they’d never get published, so arduous was their path to publication. But they, or rather, Charlotte, persevered, on behalf of not only herself, but her sisters. 

The sisters lived to see their major works published in the 1840s, though under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell to obfuscate their genders. These were Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, Villette, and Shirley; Emily’s Wuthering Heights; and Anne’s Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  Charlotte’s first novel written with the intent to publish, The Professor, came out posthumously, in 1857. 

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The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1956)

The talented mr. ripley by patricia highsmith cover

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith is a 1956 novel introducing Thomas Ripley, the sociopathic anti-hero who went on be the central character of four subsequent books. The five novels came to be known as “the Ripliad.” The first installment was followed by Ripley Under GroundRipley’s GameThe Boy Who Followed Ripley, and Ripley Under Water.  

Like many of Highsmith’s characters, Tom Ripley is a con artist and murderer. Highsmith described him as “suave, agreeable, and utterly amoral.” He’s cultured, charming, and often portrayed as likable, which puts the reader in a moral bind — just as the author intended. 

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Laura — the 1944 Film Based on the Novel by Vera Caspary

Laura by Vera Caspary 1943 film poster

Laura, the 1944 film based on the 1943 novel of the same name by Vera Caspary, has earned a secure place among the finest of the film noir genre.

The novel remains Caspary’s best-known work, and its even better-known film version has been preserved in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for its significance. It was also named as one of the 10 best mystery films of all time by the American Film Institute.

Produced and directed by Otto Preminger, Laura starred Gene Tierney in the title role. The three men involved in Laura’s life and subsequently purported death are Dana Andrews as detective Mark McPherson, Vincent Price as Laura’s playboy fiancé, and Clifton Webb as pompous newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker. Read More→

Discovering Hazel Hall, “The Emily Dickinson of Oregon”

Hazel Hall, American Poet

Hazel Hall (1886 –1924) was an American poet much beloved in her adopted state of Oregon. She was often referred to, for various reasons, as “The Emily Dickinson of Oregon.” Though she has been widely anthologized on both sides of the Atlantic, she’s no longer well known, yet deserves another look.

>By 1910, the city of Portland, Oregon was a lively city of commerce and community. An active population of well over 207,000 established it as the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. From the port side along the Ocean-accessible Columbia River to the West Bank of the roaring Willamette, people spent their days working in factories, window-shopping, strolling hand-in-hand, riding trolleys, and bustling about in all the ways that folks in large cities have always done. Read More→