Madame de Staël, French Political Theorist & Woman of Letters

Madame de Staël

Madame de Staël (April 22, 1766 – July 14, 1817) was a French intellectual, writer, and political theorist.  She was a staunch supporter of freedom of speech, democracy, women’s rights as well as a political enemy of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Looking at Germaine’s portrait, with her grandiose turban, silk gown, and shawl draped over her arms, the last thing she brings to mind is an 18th-century French revolutionary, but that is precisely what she was.

The author Francine du Plessix Gray called Germaine “the first modern woman.” Read More→

10 Fascinating Facts About Isabella Stewart Gardner

Chasing Beauty: The Life of Isabella Stewart Gardner

Chasing Beauty: The Life of Isabella Stewart Gardner (Mariner Books, March 2024), award–winning author Natalie Dystra delivers the definitive biographical portrait of the ambitious and innovative­—and until now misunderstood—woman behind one of America’s most important art collections.

With access to all archival holdings at the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum—including thousands of digitized and newly accessible letters and other unpublished records—as well as original sources in Paris, Venice, and more. Dykstra brings Isabella to life as never before. Read More→

Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress – Playwright, Novelist & Activist

Trouble in mind Alice Childress

Alice Childress’s first full-length play, Trouble in Mind, premiered in 1955 at an interracial theater co-sponsored by a Presbyterian church and a synagogue in Greenwich Village.

According to accounts at the time, the audience “applauded and shouted bravos, and would not leave their seats until the author was brought on stage.” Despite initial audience enthusiasm, decades would pass before the play received the recognition it has today as a classic of American theater.

The show received an Obie Award for best original off-Broadway play that season and was slated to open on Broadway in 1957, but Childress herself pulled the plug on that production. Read More→

The Friendship of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Elinor Wylie

Elinor Wylie Edna st vincent Millay

When one thinks of Jazz Age literature, novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald or D. H. Lawrence might come to mind. Lyrical and provocative poetry was also part of Roaring Twenties culture. Two of the most beloved and provocative poets of the 1920s were Edna St. Vincent Millay and Elinor Wylie.

Both Millay and Wylie were dedicated lyrists and writers, despite their tempestuous personal lives. They both navigated the pitfalls of fame, scandal, and illness – all while leaving an indelible mark on American poetry. Read More→

Rosamond Lehmann, Author of Dusty Answer

Rosamond Lehmann

Rosamond Lehmann (February 3, 1901 – March 12, 1990) was an English novelist known for her sensitive portrayal of the emotional fabric of women’s lives and was part of the famous Bloomsbury Group in 1920s London.

Her first novel, Dusty Answer, caused a scandal for its subtle portrayal of lesbian characters, and is still her best-known work. Her novels as well as some of her non-fiction have been reissued by Virago and are now back in print.

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Precious Bane by Mary Webb, the 1926 novel

Precious Bane by Mary Webb

Precious Bane, the 1926 novel by English author Mary Webb, is a coming–of–age novel set in the English countryside. Our heroine, Prue Sarn, is a sharply observant young woman of Shropshire during the Napoleonic Era who has been born with a disfigured lip.

Her harelip leads the others in her superstitious village to treat her as an outsider due to the association it shares with witchcraft. Despite the hardships of rural life, her disfiguration and its resulting perceptions Prue endearingly finds beauty and compassion for all around her. 

 The colorful cast of Precious Bane includes Prue’s brother Gideon, whose temperament is the of polar opposite of hers. Gideon, the inheritor of the family farm, cannot see anything in his environment outside of its potential to be exploited for personal monetary gain.

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Catherine and Heathcliff: A Study of Extreme Love in Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Catherine and Heathcliff in the story of Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë are unhesitatingly certain of their soul connection.

I’d venture to guess that some people who say they have identified their twin flame are experiencing some kind of unhealthy, obsessive, and delusional form of love.

However, some of them may be experiencing something closer to amigeist — an intense, perhaps spiritual, bond which tends towards the exaltation of all. There is an undecidability here which gives love both its healing touch and jagged edge. Read More→

10 Facts About Harper Lee, Author of To Kill a Mockingbird

Up Close-HarperLee

Presented here are 10 facts about Harper Lee (1926 – 2015), Southern author known for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). Considered one of the Great American Novels, To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of a small southern town embroiled in a racially charged trial, told from the perspective of a precocious young girl, Scout. 

The novel drew inspiration from Lee’s upbringing in Monroeville, Alabama. The novel has sold tens of millions of copies and is still widely taught in American classrooms for its moral teachings.  

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” (Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird)    Read More→