Francis Booth

Selections from Songs of the Elder Sisters (the Therīgāthā)

Songs of the Elder Sisters were composed during the Buddha’s lifetime, about 2,500 years ago. These women renounced home life and society, and joined the group of nuns founded by the Buddha. This selection of 14 poems from the Buddhist text known as the Therīgāthā were translated from Pāli by Francis Booth. See more of this translation of Songs of the Elder Sisters on Issuu.

These poignant songs are about loss of beauty, wealth and family, balanced by the greater gains of peace and wisdom through enlightenment in old age. All the songs are ascribed to particular women, whose names we know. They speak as individuals, not as wives, mothers and daughters. Read More→


Categories: Francis Booth, Poetry Comments: (2)

Mina Loy and the “Crowd” — Modernists in 1920s Paris

Though not as well known today, Mina Loy was well entrenched in the modernist circles that included leading figures of arts and letters of the 1920s. This musing on Mina Loy and the “Crowd” is excerpted from Everybody I Can Think of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde by Francis Booth. Reprinted by permission.

Mina Loy (1882 – 1966), who practiced both as a writer and visual artist, was a vital member of the group of creatives that launched the modernist movement. Born in Hampstead, London, she was a painter, poet, novelist, and playwright, and also achieved some renown as a lamp designer. Read More→


Categories: Francis Booth, Literary Musings Comments: (0)

Wild Places Without a Man: H.D. and Bryher

Towards the end of World War I, the American expatriate writer and poet Hilda Doolittle, H.D. met Annie Winifred Ellerman, known as Bryher. H.D. and Breyher became lovers and would remain intimate for the rest of H.D.’s life, supporting and sustaining each other and sharing the responsibility of parenting H.D.’s daughter Perdita.

However, theirs was not an exclusive partnership. Both took other lovers, and in 1921 Bryher entered into a marriage of convenience with the American writer and publisher Robert McAlmon. This arrangement enabled Bryher to keep her traditional family at arm’s length, and allowed McAlmon to use her wealth to set up his own press.

This excerpt, detailing the complex relationships of a circle of modernist literary figures, is from Everybody I Can Think of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde by Francis Booth. Reprinted by permission. Read More→


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Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson, 1951 — an Analysis

This analysis of Hangsaman, Shirley Jackson’s chilling and thought-provoking 1951 novel, is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century Woman’s Novel by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

In a 1956 book called Sex Variant Women in Literature,  the academic critic, Jeanette H. Foster referred to Hangsaman as “an eerie novel about lesbians.’ This is a bizarre reading of the novel and Shirley Jackson was incensed. Her biographer, Judy Oppenheimer, quoted her as saying:

“I happen to know what Hangsaman is about. I wrote it. And dammit it is about what I say it is about and not some dirty old lady at Oxford. Because (let me whisper) I don’t really know anything about stuff like that. And I don’t want to know… I am writing about ambivalence but it is an ambivalence of the spirit or the mind, not the sex. My poor devils have enough to contend with without being sex deviates along with being moral and romantic deviates.” Read More→


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Odd Girl Out by Ann Bannon (Ann Weldy), 1957

Odd Girl Out by Ann Bannon (the pseudonym of Ann Weldy), was one of several hugely influential lesbian pulp novels of the 1950s. This appreciation and analysis is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century Woman’s Novel by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

In the introduction to her anthology Lesbian Pulp Fiction, the author Katherine V. Forrest remembers how a book she found in a bookshop in Detroit in 1957 changed not only her writing but her life: Read More→


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