Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) was an American author, poet, and art collector. She’s considered one of the most significant writers of the early twentieth century. Though some consider her writing incoherent or absurd, others view it as a singular voice.

Born into a well-to-do family Jewish family in Pennsylvania, Stein went to college at Radcliffe and then studied medicine for four years at Johns Hopkins University.

Stein lived most of her adult life in Paris, where she moved in 1903. She and her brother Leo Stein amassed an important art collection; the two lived together in Paris for some years, but after she met her life partner, Alice B. Toklas, a rift grew between the sibling. Leo resented Toklas and called her “a kind of abnormal vampire.”  Read More→


How Harriet Beecher Stowe was Inspired to Write Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

The first American author whose book could claim the distinction of “international best seller” was Harriet Beecher Stowe. Not the first female author, mind you, but the first author ever. After the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852, no book sold faster out of the gate; 1.5 million copies were sold worldwide by the end of its first year, and in the entire nineteenth century, only the Bible sold more copies. The book not only helped change the course of history, but changed the business of publishing as it was known.

It may be overstating the case to claim, as some have, that the book helped to ignite the Civil War, though some historians do believe that this book laid the groundwork. President Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying when he met Stowe in 1862, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Read More→


The Literary Traditions of Self-Publishing

Peter Rabbit

As a way to avoid or recover from rejection, or simply to be entrepreneurs, writers have increasingly been turning to self-publishing. User-friendly print-on-demand or e-book services allow writers to create books on an as-needed basis, avoiding the pitfalls of overprinting, then having to store copious numbers of cartons of unsold books in the garage or under the bed.

Whether the product ends up only in the hands of the author’s mom and cousins or becomes one of the rare successes that sells like wildfire, it’s good to have options. The ultimate stroke of luck for a self-published book is being picked up by a trade publisher, then continuing to sell like crazy. Read More→


Three Daughters of Madame Liang by Pearl S. Buck (1969)

Three daughters of Madame Liang

Three Daughters of Madame Liang by Pearl S. Buck is a 1969 novel in the tradition of her colorful and vivid China stories. This one is takes place in China around the time of the cultural revolution. Madame Liang is the proprietor of a fashionable restaurant in Shanghai, serving the top echelon of the city. She sends her three daughters to America to be educated, with varying and dramatic results.

Grace, Mercy, and Joy are torn between loyalties to their home country and their adopted one. Here’s a review of this engaging novel from the time of its publication date: Read More→


How can I tell if what I’m writing is any good?

eudora welty

Dear Literary Ladies,
While in the midst of writing, how can you gauge if your work is any good? It’s so hard to be objective, and see the forest from the trees. Should I compare my writing with that of other writers I admire?

Since we must and do write each in our own way, we may during actual writing get more lasting instruction not from another’s work, whatever its blessings, however better it is than ours, but from our own poor scratched-over pages. For these we can hold up to life. That is, we are born with a mind and heart to hold each page up to and to ask: Is it valid? Read More→


Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896), American author and abolitionist, is best known for the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  She grew up in a large, socially progressive family of ministers, authors, reformers, and educators who were well known in their time.

Among her siblings were the prominent minister Henry Ward Beecher, and educator Catharine Beecher. Harriet showed an early talent for writing and in her early twenties had a steadily paying profession, contributing articles to numerous publications.

Her husband, Calvin Ellis Stowe was a biblical scholar and educator. The two were married in 1836. He was a firm supporter of her talents, but was no help in the household, and not much of a provider. Struggling with divided loyalties, her assertion to her husband in this letter, “If I am to write, I must have a room to myself” neatly presages Virginia Woolf’s declaration that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”  Read More→


Subscribe to The Literary Ladies Guide weekly newsletter

Celebrating women’s voices
with inspiration for readers and writers

  • Find your next great read
  • Get writing advice from authors you love
  • Enjoy fascinating facts and quotes
  • Discover women’s literary history

... and lots more (look for a bonus in your welcome letter!)
Email address
Secure and Spam free...