Christina Stead (July 17, 1902 – March 31, 1983) was a novelist and short story writer who was born in Australia into a Marxist family. Her mother died when she was only two years old. When she was old enough, she became the main caretaker of the family while her father worked. Stead went to college and after, worked as a teacher and secretary.
She moved to London at age 26, where she fell in love with an American banker, William Blake. They traveled around Europe and finally ended up in the United States. In the 1940s, Stead took a job as a screenwriter and as a teacher at NYU. Stead and Blake returned to Europe and both wrote articles and did editing to earn money. Read More→
Ann Petry (1908 – 1997) is best known for being the first African-American woman to produce a book whose sales would top a million copies. The Street ultimately sold a million and a half copies. A gritty story of a single mother raising a son in Harlem, it brought its author much praise and a little notoriety.
Here are 6 interesting facts about Ann Petry, an classic American author who deserves to be more widely read. Read More→
The Four Difficuties of Becoming A Writer is a segment excerpted from Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande (1934), proving that good writing advice is timeless:
There is a sort of writer’s magic. There is a procedure which many an author has come upon by happy accident or has worked out for himself which can, in part, be taught. To be ready to learn it you will have to go by a rather roundabout way, first considering the main difficulties which you will meet, then embarking on simple, but stringently self-enforced exercises to overcome those difficulties. Last of all you must have faith, or the curiosity, to take one odd piece of advice which will be unlike any of the exhortations that have come your way in classrooms or in textbooks.
Miles Franklin (1879 – 1954) is best known for her first novel, My Brilliant Career. Published in 1901, when the author was just 21, it’s a semi-autobiographical story of a teenage girl growing up in the Australian bush who longs to break free as her own person. Just after the novel’s publication and early success she wrote only sporadically, having become involved in World War I efforts and the woman suffrage cause.
During this period, she wrote a sequel to My Brilliant Career titled My Career Goes Bung, finishing it around 1915 –1916. But it proved too far ahead of its time and wasn’t published until some decades later. Read More→
Dear Literary Ladies,
How do I go about developing a distinctive writing style—one that will blow editors away, and that readers everywhere will recognize as my unique voice?
I simply don’t believe in style. The style is you. Oh, you can cultivate a style, I suppose, if you like. But I should say it remains a cultivated style. It remains artificial and imposed, and I don’t think it deceives anyone. A cultivated style would be like a mask. Read More→
Patricia Highsmith (January 19, 1921 – February 4, 1995) was an American writer known for novels and short stories best described as psychological thrillers. She wove murder, crime, and intrigue through her plots, which were often driven by sociopathic antiheroes.
Born Mary Patricia Plangman in Fort Worth Texas, her parents divorced just days before her birth. She acquired the name Highsmith when her mother remarried a few years later. Recalling her unhappy childhood as “a little hell,” she disliked her mother and stepfather, who argued constantly. Perhaps that figured into her dim view of human nature, as by age eight she was reading studies of mental illness. Finding them fascinating, some of what she learned may have been tucked away for use in her writing.
Highsmith attended Barnard College in New York City, where she majored in English, focusing on playwriting and composition. For some years after graduating, she worked as a scriptwriter for comic books. Read More→