Literary Musings

Inspiration from Classic Caribbean Women Writers

How can writers reconcile the demands of the social and political moment with the demands of their craft? Caribbean women writers of color offer some models in the way they explore the rich intersection of concerns with gender, race, and colonialism through their work.

Anglophone writers with links to African and indigenous Caribbean cultures as well as to the United States or the United Kingdom (or both) express those connections with language, story, and rhythm.

Following are brief introductions to several classic Caribbean women writers, listed in order of their dates of birth — Rosa Guy, Paule Marshall (shown above), Georgina Herrera, Michelle Cliff, Mahadai Das, and Jean “Binta” Breeze. Read More→


Categories: Literary Analyses, Literary Musings Comments: (0)

In Search of Virginia Woolf’s Lighthouse, Godrevy Light

 What is it that makes us long to see what the writers we love once saw? To stand in their footsteps? Do we imagine that some fairy dust will fall from nearby trees or rise from abandoned floorboards to bring us the wisdom or the art that flowed from their fingers to their manuscripts, whether through pens or pencils, typewriter keys, or pixels?

That’s what was on my mind on a visit to Cornwall, England, when I was determined to get to Godrevy Light, the lighthouse that inspired Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. Read More→


Categories: Literary Musings, Literary Travel Comments: (0)

Women Authors’ Friendships: Mutual Support & Companionate Rivalry

When it comes to women author’s friendships, it’s understood that the writers’ common struggles benefit from mutual support.  I wonder how much rivalry is involved, though, since writers can be an envious lot. 

There are few templates for friendships between women writers, especially after one or both achieves some measure of success. Yes, there is mutual support. And yes, there is a measure of envy and rivalry. 

This type of camaraderie has, and has always had, its delights as well as its complications. The well-known friendships between women who are now considered classic authors were no exception. Read More→


Categories: Literary Musings Comments: (0)

Envy & Inspiration: The Friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield

Literary mythology has often portrayed Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield as bitter rivals, but they were close friends and, for the most part, mutually supportive writing colleagues.

The rivalry between the two brilliant writers served as inspiration to both, a spur to do better. Virginia said of Katherine, “I was jealous of her writing. The only writing I have ever been jealous of.”

In October 1917, Virginia Woolf recorded in her diary her first, decidedly mixed impressions of fellow writer Katherine Mansfield. Katherine “stinks like a civet cat that had taken to street walking,” she wrote. “In truth, I’m a little shocked by her commonness at first sight; lines so hard & cheap. However, when this diminishes, she is so intelligent & inscrutable that she repays friendship.” Read More→


Categories: Literary Musings Comments: (2)

10 Classic Women Authors and Their Cats

In this site’s overview of classic women authors and their dogs and cats, it seems like dogs have the clear edge as writers’ preferred furry friends. But digging deeper, I’m no longer so sure of that! As it turns out, women authors and their cats are just as companionable, which this roundup will amply demonstrate.

I got to thinking about this when I heard that my friend and colleague Bob Eckstein had produced The Complete Book of Cat Names (That Your Cat Won’t Answer to, Anyway). Bob is a New Yorker cartoonist and a wonderful watercolorist. You may also enjoy this excerpt from his book, Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores. Read More→


Categories: Literary Musings Comments: (0)