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→
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→
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 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→
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→
Comedy, American Style by Jesse Redmon Fauset (1882 – 1961) was the last novel by this influential author, poet, and editor associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Published in 1933, the title is completely ironic; this story is, if anything, more of a tragedy.
In this story, Jessie Fauset explores themes of racial identity, self-hatred, and the concept of “passing” in the deeply biased American culture. The main character, Olivia Cary, is domineering mother who wants her children to pass as white, which leads to to dire consequences for the family. Read More→