Literary Musings

How Betty Smith Came to Write A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, in Her Own Words

How many of us have read and re-read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? It’s one of those books that can be revisited at various stages in life and seen from a different perspective each time. Granted, none of Smith’s other three novels achieved quite the same success as A Tree, but they share the unifying themes of struggles in an urban setting, and above all, family bonds. 

It’s always fascinating to learn how an author came to write a book that has become a beloved classic, especially in their own words. In the 1943 essay that follows, Betty Smith tells in her own words how she came to write A Tree Grows in BrooklynAfter years of struggling to be a successful writer (she had already achieved a measure of success as a playwright), Betty Smith struck literary gold, drawing on her own experience as the child of poor immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century. Read More→


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6 Early American Women Writers We Should Know More About

In the American colonies or early days of the Republic, for a woman to dare enter public discourse was a radical act of rebellion. To write and be published at a time when women had few legal or economic rights was just short of miraculous. Here’s an introduction to six of the most prominent early American women writers, all of whom deserve to be rediscovered and read.

In 1650, The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America, a collection of poems by Anne Bradstreet, was the first publication in the colonies. From then on, women who wrote were criticized for being unwomanly and going against God’s teachings. To avoid censure, some occasionally wrote under pseudonyms, but sometimes used their own names, the consequences be damned!
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4 Classic Horse Stories by Women Authors

What is it about horse stories that kids, and dare we say especially girls, love so much? There’s something grounding and down to earth about the bond between the beautiful animals and humans devoted to their welfare when illuminated in fiction.

Here, we’ll take a quick look at four of the most enduring classic horse stories, the novels Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, National Velvet by Enid Bagnold, My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara, and Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry.

Though they’re now classified as children’s books, they were intended by their authors to be enjoyed by “children of all ages.” Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why they were all adapted to film, reaching wide and appreciative audiences. Read More→


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12 Lesser-Known Classic Women Novelists Worth Rediscovering

On the subject of classic women novelists worth rediscovering, we could make the argument that ninety percent of the authors on this site are ripe for rediscovery. Some authors are still read and considered, even if only in the academic realm of women’s studies classes. These include Zora Neale Hurston who was indeed rediscovered after falling into obscurity, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, whose story The Yellow Wallpaper is an iconic work of feminist literature.

A few (not enough!) women authors’ books are still staples in and out of the classroom including To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Then there are the ever-respected Virginia Woolf, and of course, the beloved Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.

Sadly, though, there are quite a number of women  who were once widely read but have fallen under the literary radar. Here are 12 of them — classic women novelists who whose books deserve to be read and enjoyed just today as much as they were in their time. Read More→


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Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre: An Existential Love Story

The two intellectuals known as the mother of modern feminism and father of existentialism shared a half-century partnership that defied the conventions of their time and ours.

From 1929, when Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre met in the same elite graduate program in philosophy, to when they were buried side-by-side in the Cimetiere du Montparnasse, they shared each other’s work and lives without ever sharing a home. Read More→


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