How Mary Ann Evans Became George Eliot

In September 1856, the 36-year-old woman heretofore known as Mary Ann Evans (alternatively Marian) wrote in her journal that she had “made a new era” in her life, “for it was then I began to write fiction.”

It was a new era in another way, as well, because it was soon after this that Mary Ann Evans began to transform herself into the author we know as the eminent British novelist and essayist, George Eliot (1819 – 1880).

Mary Ann Evans was in the process of reinventing herself in several ways. A few months after she began writing fiction, she sent a letter to her beloved brother Isaac in which she announced, “You will be surprised to learn … that I have changed my name and have someone to take care of me in the world.” Read More→


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Ruth Moore, Chronicler of Coastal Maine

I became aware of novelist and poet Ruth Moore (July 21, 1903–December, 1989) while vacationing in Maine. Walking through a parking lot in Acadia National Park, I spotted a bumper sticker: “I Read Ruth Moore.”

That’s how a lotof people learn of Ruth Moore. Like me, they spot one of the three hundred bumper stickers spread around eastern Maine by publisher Gary Lawless and then they begin to investigate.

What they’ll find out is that Moore was a best-selling novelist (her second novel, Spoonhandle, spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, along with George Orwell and Somerset Maugham, when it was published in 1946). Read More→


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Maxine Kumin, Prolific American Poet

Maxine Kumin (June 6, 1925 – February 6, 2014) is known primarily as a poet, but she was also a prolific writer of children’s books, fiction, and essays.

She was born Maxine Winokur in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Reform Jewish parents.

Her father was the largest pawnbroker in the city of Philadelphia; her mother was a socially ambitious woman who loved dressing for nights at the symphony or the theater and discouraged any mannerisms that might, in her view, make her children appear to be immigrants. Read More→


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The Literary Friendship of Poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin

Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin were significant twentieth-century poets who provided deep friendship and support for one another as they developed and mastered their craft. Literary Ladies Guide has offered fascinating musings and insights into several significant literary friendships between women writers.

But none of these compare in intensity to the literary friendship of Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin, a relationship brought to life in The Equivalents (2020) by Maggie Doherty, an exploration of the first group of poets and artists to be part of the Institute for Independent Study at Radcliffe College (later the Bunting Institute, and now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study). Read More→


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May Sinclair, British Novelist, Philosopher, and Suffragist

May Sinclair, (born Mary Amelia St. Clair Sinclair; August 24, 1863 – November 14, 1946) was a British novelist, philosopher, poet, and suffragist who was regarded as England’s “leading woman novelist between the death of George Eliot and the rise of Virginia Woolf,” according to David Williams, a critic who wrote for Punch.

She explored the inner lives of ordinary women in some twenty-three novels, while also publishing two works of philosophy, a biography of the Brontës, several collections of poetry, and dozens of short stories.

May Sinclair is largely forgotten today. All of her works had fallen out of print when Virago Press, the noted British feminist publishing house, reissued three of her most significant novels in the early 1980s. At present, however, only The Life and Death of Harriett Frean (1922), which many regard as her masterpiece, is in print. Read More→


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