Vita Sackville-West (March 9, 1892 – June 2, 1962), was a British poet, novelist, and garden designer. Born at Knole Park, a 365-room ancestral home, her writing career was launched with the publication of Poems of East and West.
She’s known for her private life and as a master gardener perhaps as much as her literature. She was bisexual and had many affairs with women, including Virginia Woolf. It’s believed that she was the inspiration for the title character of Woolf’s novel, Orlando.
Vita was part of the literary Bloomsbury circle, which included Woolf and her husband, Leonard, as well as E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, and others.
May Sarton (May 3, 1912 – July 16, 1995) born Eleanore Marie Sarton, was an American poet, novelist, and memoirist. Born in Belgium, her family moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1915 after briefly living in England. Her mother was the English artist Mable Elwes Sarton, and her father, George Sarton, was a science historian.
Sarton began writing poetry when she was in her teens. After graduating from high school, she moved to New York City with notions of becoming an actress. She joined the New York’s Civic Repertory Theater and even tried her hand at starting and running such a venture, launching Associated Actor’s Theater in 1933. After the company folded, she continued to write and frequently traveled to Europe , where she became acquainted with many literary figures, including Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen. Read More→
Harper Lee (April 28, 1926 –February 19, 2016) was an American author best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). Born in Monroeville, Alabama, she was originally named Nelle Harper Lee.
Few novels have had the cultural impact of To Kill a Mockingbird, which has sold tens of millions of copies, and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Lee drew from her upbringing in a small southern town to tell an indelible American story. Read More→
Betty Smith (December 15, 1896 – January 17, 1972), an American novelist and playwright, is best remembered for her evocative coming-of-age story, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Born Elizabeth Wehner, she shared a birthdate — December 15 — with the heroine of that beloved novel, Francie Nolan, though the author’s birth year was five years earlier than Francie’s.
Betty herself had a rough childhood, growing up in the tenements of Brooklyn at the dawn of the 1900s. The family moved several times before settling in a top-floor tenement on Grand Street that served as the model for the Nolan family’s flat in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Her immigrant parents struggled in their impoverished new environment. Her mother Katie was tough as nails, yet passed on to Betty (who in her youth went by the name of Lizzie ) a love of storytelling. Her father, about whom little is known other than his alcoholism, died when she was nineteen. Betty borrowed from her own experiences in the details of her novels, from the various jobs she held to her personal life and family ties. Read More→
E. Nesbit (August 15, 1858 – May 4, 1924), born Edith Nesbit, was an English novelist, short story writer, and poet best known for her imaginative books for children. Born in Kennington, Surrey, her father. a chemist, died before she was four. A sister’s poor health compelled the family to move almost continually until she was in her late teens. An imaginative yet nervous child, the family’s peripatetic ways would have an impact on the stories she eventually became famous for.
At eighteen, Edith married Hubert Bland. Though the couple had five children, the marriage was an unstable one, marked by Bland’s philandering and inability to make a living. She published under the name E. Nesbit, producing more than 40 books for children, and many more on which she collaborated. She also wrote eleven novels for adults, and many short stories. Read More→