Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825 – February 22, 1911) combined her talents as a writer, poet, and public speaker with a deep commitment to abolition and social reform. She sustained a long and prolific publishing career at a time when it was rare for women, particularly women of color, to have a voice. She used her in a multitude of powerful ways, and as a result, she’s been referred to as “the mother of African-American journalism.”
The 1854 collection Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (1854) was possibly her most successful, having gone through many editions. “The Two Offers” was the first published short story by an African-American woman. And Iola Leroy (1892) was one of the first novels by a black woman to be published. Read More→
Flannery O’Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was born Mary Flannery O’Connor in Savannah, Georgia. She became best known for her short stories, morally driven narratives populated with flawed characters sometimes described as grotesque.
O’Connor was viewed as a bit different by her fellow townspeople in Milledgeville, Georgia. She stood somewhat apart from the itinerant farm workers and country folk, becoming something of an observer. There was nothing she wanted to do other than write.
You may notice that some of her book covers feature peacocks; that’s a nod to her raising of the beautiful birds in her youth on her family’s farm.
Anaïs Nin (February 21, 1903 – January 14, 1977) embodied the practice of writing as a grand passion and a path to delving deeply into the self. In this sense, she foreshadowed the immediacy of today’s world of self-revelatory memoir. She was a splendid and prolific essayist as well.
Best known for her multi-volume series, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, she wrote these journals over the span of more than thirty years (not including her Early Diaries series).
Born in France, her full original name was Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell. Her father, Joaquin Nin, a composer, deserted the family when Anaïs was about 11 years old. He and her mother, Rosa Culmell y Vigaraud, were of Cuban descent with traces of French, Spanish, and Danish ancestry. Read More→
Eudora Welty (April 13, 1909 – July 23, 2001) was an American author whose work spanned several genres — novels, short stories, and memoir.
Much of her writing focused on realistic human relationships — conflict, community, interaction, and influence. As a Southern writer, a sense of place was an important theme running though her work.
Welty grew up in a close-knit, contented family in Jackson, Mississippi. Her parents instilled a love of education, curiosity, and reading to her and to her brothers, with whom she was close. Read More→
Anne Bradstreet (March 20, 1612 – September 16, 1672) was one of the most prominent early American poets, and the first writer in the American colonies to be published. It was considered unacceptable for women of her time to write, but Anne rejected the prevailing notions of women’s inferiority. She was roundly criticized, not for the work itself, but for daring to make her work public.
Young Anne Dudley didn’t attend school, though she received a solid education from her book-loving father, Thomas Dudley. During his year a steward at the estate of the Earl of Lincoln, she had access to the library, and read widely, especially from the classics: Plutarch, Pliny, Virgil, Suetonius, Homer, Ovid, Seneca, and others. She was also steeped in philosophy and Biblical studies. Read More→