Literary Musings

Zelda Fitzgerald — Talented, Troubled Wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Zelda Fitzgerald (July 24, 1900 – March 10, 1948), known for her beauty and personality, made a name for herself as a socialite, novelist, dancer, and painter. She was far more than merely the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who called her “the first American flapper.”

Born Zelda Sayre in Montgomery, Alabama, she met Scott at a country club dance in 1918, when he was stationed outside of Montgomery during WWI. He was immediately taken by Zelda, and their passionate and tumultuous relationship began — as did Scott’s liberal borrowing of material from her letters and diaries for use in his own works. 

Although friends and family were not necessarily in favor of their match, Zelda agreed to marry Fitzgerald once his first novel, This Side of Paradise, was published. He finished it in the fall of 1919 and urged his editor, Maxwell Perkins, to hurry the release. This Side of Paradise was published March 26, 1920, and the couple was married on April 3rd at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Read More→

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Jan Morris, Travel Writer and Historian — an Introduction

Jan Morris (October 2, 1926 – November 20, 2020), the historian and travel writer, was born and mostly raised in England, but identified as Welsh. Renowned for the Pax Britannica trilogy, a history of the British Empire, she was also esteemed for her intimate and insightful portraits of several great cities of the world. 

Jan published under her birth name, James, before completing her transition to female in 1972. She was one of the first public figures to come out openly as transgender, making her a pioneer to the generations of trans writers (and others) who came after her. 

This introduction to the ideas and accomplishments of Jan Morris is excerpted from Mightier Than the Sword; Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing by Rochelle Melander, illustrated by Melina Ontiveros. Copyright © 2021 Beaming Books. Reproduced by permission. Read More→

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Remembering the What Katy Did Series by Susan Coolidge

There are some books from one’s schoolgirl years that stay with you, and the What Katy Did series by Susan Coolidge (1835–1905) certainly falls into that category for me. I read and re-read those books through many vacations. Before realizing it, the actions of favorite characters begin to have an effect on me, as the reader. 

The American author of the What Katy Did series (five books in all) was born Sarah Chauncey Woolsey but gained fame with her pen name, Susan Coolidge. The first book of her Katy Did series was published in 1872. 

What Katy Did deals with the adventures of twelve-year-old Katy Carr, who lives with her Aunt Izzie (after having lost her mother at the age of five), her father, Dr. Carr (a hardworking doctor, who is away from home for long spells), three sisters, and two brothers. Her friend, Cecy, also plays an important role in the first novel.  Read More→

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Contemporary Writers’ Favorite Classic Books by Women Authors

Many of us love classic books, so I thought it would be fascinating to discover a few contemporary writers’ favorite classic books by women authors. Leslie Pietrzyk, Stacy Hawkins Adams, and Kathryn Reid responded with thoughtful answers as well as short biographies.

As a contributor to Literary Ladies Guide, I (Tyler Scott), weigh in as well. When we write, when we read, it’s all about enlarging our circle. This brief survey proves that literature continues to connect us in our shared human experiences. Read More→

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Women’s Spiritual Journeys in Literature (and Life) Inspired by the Sea

This musing on women’s spiritual journeys inspired by the sea is excerpted from the essay “Women Who Swim” by Evan Atlas. Featuring the iconic real-life swimmer Gertrude (Trudy) Ederle, it moves into parallels with Marian Taylor in The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch, and Edna Pontellier in The Awakening by Kate Chopin:

The sea appears as this powerful source of perfection and self-transcendence in The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch (1987), whose character, Marian, is the subject of a sea-inspired spiritual journey. She arrives in an unfamiliar setting, immediately noticing that something is off: Read More→

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