Literary Musings

The Friendship of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Elinor Wylie

When one thinks of Jazz Age literature, novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald or D. H. Lawrence might come to mind. Lyrical and provocative poetry was also part of Roaring Twenties culture. Two of the most beloved and provocative poets of the 1920s were Edna St. Vincent Millay and Elinor Wylie.

Both Millay and Wylie were dedicated lyrists and writers, despite their tempestuous personal lives. They both navigated the pitfalls of fame, scandal, and illness – all while leaving an indelible mark on American poetry. Read More→

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10 Facts About Harper Lee, Author of To Kill a Mockingbird

Presented here are 10 facts about Harper Lee (1926 – 2015), Southern author known for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). Considered one of the Great American Novels, To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of a small southern town embroiled in a racially charged trial, told from the perspective of a precocious young girl, Scout. 

The novel drew inspiration from Lee’s upbringing in Monroeville, Alabama. The novel has sold tens of millions of copies and is still widely taught in American classrooms for its moral teachings.  

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” (Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird)    Read More→

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South African Author Dalene Matthee: A Daughter’s Tribute

South African author Dalene Matthee (1938 – 2005) was best known for her four “Forest novels” presenting stories of the Cape Knysna Forest and its inhabitants. In 2023, I had the good fortune of interviewing Hilary Matthee, one of Dalene Matthee’s three daughters, for an issue of the Afrikaans magazine Taalgenoot.

Matthee’s writings have been translated into multiple languages, including French, German, Icelandic, and English. Matthee would usually translate the first versions of her work into English, believing that it was important to make sure the emotion came across in a “reserved” language.

In 1970, Matthee published her debut children’s novel The Twelve o’ Clock Stick. She published a collection of short stories next, The Judas Goat, in 1982. Several of her works have been adapted to film, including Circles in a Forest (1989), Fiela’s Child (1988 and 2019), and Dreamforest. Read More→

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The Banning of Nadine Gordimer’s Anti-Apartheid Novels

Nadine Gordimer (1923 – 2013) was a South African activist and Nobel Prize-winning author. Presented here is an overview of the banning of Nadine Gordimer’s anti-apartheid novels and other writings, and her legacy as one of the most prominent and outspoken authors of the anti-apartheid movement.

Gordimer was born in Springs, South Africa to Jewish immigrant parents. Her early experiences informed the rest of her life, including witnessing a raid on her family home where a servant’s letters and diaries were confiscated.

Her first novel, The Lying Days, was published in 1953 when apartheid-era censorship by the South African government was at its height. Read More→

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10 Fascinating Facts About Christina Rossetti, Victorian Poet

Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830 – 1894) is among the most important female poets of the 19th century. Presented here are fascinating facts about Christina Rossetti, the Victorian English poet whose work continues to resonate and inspire.

Her popular works, including “Goblin Market,” “Remember,” “In an Artist’s Studio,” “Who Has Seen the Wind,” and “In the Bleak Midwinter,” are a small part of her prolific output.

The American author Elbert Hubbard wrote in Christina Rossetti , “Christina had the faculty of seizing beautiful moments, exalted feelings, sublime emotions … In all her lines there is a half-sobbing tone.” Read More→

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