Fans of the hugely influential 1818 novel Frankenstein and admirers of its author, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley will be thrilled to know that The Morgan Library and Museum is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its publication. If you live in or will be visiting New York City this fall, plan to see It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200, which will be on view through January 9, 2019. A number of events and programs will be held during this time as well, to extend the depth and breadth of this visual exploration. For more on the curation and development of this exhibit, see our related post, It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200.
Learn more about the exhibit here, and note some of the programs and events, including films and gallery talks. The show is introduced as follows:
“Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus — in which a chemistry student makes a living being out of corpses — has compelled our attention since it was first published in 1818. This exhibit explores its adaptability to stage and screen, its sources in Gothic art and Enlightenment Science, and the haunted life of its creator.” Read More→
On a recent visit to The Morgan Library in New York City, I spotted a tiny autograph manuscript of the poem, “The Night of Storms has Passed,” by Emily Brontë, dated June 10, 1837. It was written in tiny, barely legible script on a card perhaps 3 by 4 inches. Written when she was about to turn nineteen years old (she was born July 30, 1818), it was unpublished in her lifetime, but has since been included in collected poems by Emily, perhaps the most inscrutable of the Brontë sisters. The text accompanying the poem read as follows:
A Graveyard Wail by the Teenage Emily Brontë
“A month before she turned nineteen, Emily Brontë wrote this poem about a ghost that opens its lips to emit a lament that mixes eerily with the sound of the wind. She copied an earlier draft, fitting fifty-eight lines onto a scrap a little smaller than an index card. In 1846, when she and her sisters self-published a book of poetry (choosing male pseudonyms to mask their identity), Brontë chose not to include this composition, it remained unpublished in her lifetime.” Read More→
The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s was a fertile decade for African-American creatives of all kinds — writers, musicians, playwrights, and artists. Though like many movements it was male-dominated, many women rose to prominence. We explore some of those who made a lasting impact in Renaissance Women: 12 Female Writers of the Harlem Renaissance, some of whom will also appear in the following list. Here we present women poets of the Harlem Renaissance that have been somewhat or largely forgotten —but whose words and lives should continue to be celebrated.
In her preface to Black Sister: Poetry by Black American Women, 1746 – 1980, Erlene Stetson wrote:
“Black women poets have made a unique contribution to the American literary tradition. This contribution is shaped by their experience both as blacks and as women, an experience whose pressure they have resisted and at the same time as they have recognized its strategic survival value in life and exploited its symbolic power in their art.” Read More→
In 1893, a deputy sheriff knocked on Matilda Joslyn Gage’s door in Fayetteville, New York. He served her with a supreme writ, court papers summoning her to appear before a judge for breaking the law.
“All of the crimes which I was not guilty of rushed through my mind,” she wrote later, “but I failed to remember that I was a born criminal—a woman.” Her crime: registering to vote. The verdict: guilty as charged.
Matilda Joslyn Gage was born in 1826 in Cicero, New York, near Syracuse. She lived all her life in the Syracuse area but also spent time with her adult children who lived in Dakota Territory. Her home in Fayetteville, New York, is now a museum. Read More→
Ann Petry (October 12, 1908 – April 28, 1997) was the first African-American woman to produce a book (The Street) whose sales topped one million. Ultimately it would sell a million and a half copies. Born Ann Lane, she was raised in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
Encounters with the pervasive racism that permeated American life in their time were relatively rare — though not entirely absent — in the sheltered life that the Lanes provided for Ann and her siblings. She was a fourth-generation native of Connecticut, and was the daughter of practical, ambitious parents. Her father, Peter Clark Lane, was a pharmacist; her mother, Bertha James Lane, was a podiatrist. For other role models she had an extended family of strong professional women
Though a high school teacher encouraged her to write, Ann went to pharmacy college and received a degree. This was in the early 1930s, when a practical profession was a blessing during the Great Depression. She followed in her father’s footsteps to become a pharmacist in the family drugstore. She was always an avid reader who was particularly taken with Louisa May Alcott’s fictional heroine Jo March as a role model for her writerly aspirations. Read More→
The most fascinating part of this exploration of classic Indian women authors is that their writings reflected a feminist bent. Given the strong patriarchal culture that still prevails in India and the fact that most of these women started their creative lives in the mid-twentieth century, one can only marvel at the courage and strength of their writings.
Since India has twenty-two recognized languages, this compilation is by no means comprehensive. For the sake of convenience, the authors have been listed in chronological order of their birth years. Read More→
One of the earliest works of feminist philosophical literature, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects was written by Mary Wollstonecraft and published in 1792. Mary Wollstonecraft (not to be confused with her literary daughter, Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein) argues in Vindication for the educational equality of men and women. She argued that men and women are both born with the ability to reason, and therefore power and influential status should be equally available to all.
Wollstonecraft believed that regardless of wealth and social status, males and females should have the same educational opportunities. She sought radical reform of the 18th-century education system, believing that a society where females are offered the same opportunities as males would bring only beneficial change to the future of humanity. Read More→
A short story is a fantastic way to get a sense of an author’s voice. In some ways, it can be more challenging to create a compelling narrative in a short form than within the span of a novel. Building suspense and getting the reader to care about the characters are true marks of craftsmanship. Here are ten thought-provoking classic short stories by women authors. You’ll be able to read some of them (those in the public domain) right here on this site; others are part of these authors’ short story collections.
Sometimes there’s a fine line between when a short story shades into a novella, as is the case with The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, but we’ve got that covered as well. Make sure to explore our recommendations for Must-Read Novellas by Classic Women Authors. Read More→