Literary Musings

Solitude vs Self-Isolation: Women Authors and the Sacred Inner Space

Most artists and writers keep their inner space sacred and inviolate. It’s the core from where their creativity springs. Some keep their inner world more private than others. 

While plenty of male writers have suffered from (or have preferred) isolation, this musing will focus on well known female writers. Confinement periods can be an advantage for women writers, as their extra-curricular activities may  slow down.

Seeking solitude doesn’t make a writer antisocial. Perhaps periods of quarantines made it easier for writers to carve out specific periods of time where they can work in blissful solitude. A brief look at women authors of the past shows that self-imposed sequestration isn’t such a crazy thing to do, after all. Read More→

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The Matchless Orinda — Early English Poet & Playwright Katherine Philips

Known as the “Matchless Orinda,” Katherine Philips (1631/2 – 1664; née Fowler) was the author of the first English-language play written by a woman to be performed on the professional stage and she may also have been the first published lesbian poet in the English language; this seems to be a love poem from her to fellow poet Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, whose pseudonym was Ardelia.

This introduction to Katherine Philips’  life and work is adapted from Killing the Angel: Early Transgressive British Woman Writers by Francis Booth ©2021, reprinted by permission. Read More→

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Olympe de Gouges: An Introduction to Her Life and Work

The French playwright, pamphleteer, women’s rights advocate, abolitionist, and early feminist Olympe de Gouges (1748 – 1793), author of over thirty plays, was savagely criticized by the male French literary establishment for the liberalism of her dramas. She was unrepentant in her response — an open letter To the French Littérateurs:

“What crimes have I committed to merit such infamous treatment: how have I transgressed; how have I wronged anyone in any way? What? A dramatic work, a text full of humanity, sensibility and justice has provoked people unknown to me? Has incited the blackest calumny, has encouraged my enemies, renewed their vigour.” Read More→

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When Anaïs Met Henry: Nin’s Tumultuous Affair with Henry and June Miller

In late 1931, the author and diarist Anaïs Nin met Henry Miller and his wife, June. She first fell in love with Henry’s writing, and then with the man himself before being seduced by his wife, June. This excerpt from Everybody I Can Think of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde by Francis Booth recounts what would be a fateful, formative affair:

Henry Miller was the author of banned, erotic novels like Tropic of Cancer and Black Spring, originally published by Jack Kahane’s Obelisk Press in 1934 and 1936 respectively. Henry was married at the time he met Anaïs Nin, to June Anderson, the second of his five wives (Nin wasn’t, and would not be, one of the five). Nin was married at the time also, to Hugo Parker Guiler (sometimes known as Ian Hugo). Read More→

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Merci, Colette: How the Legendary French Author Continues to Inspire

This heartwarming essay by Tyler Scott is an homage to Colette (1873 – 1954), the bold and fearless French author, and discusses how she continues to inspire writers at any stage of practice:

In the fraught year of 2020, I had been too addled and worried to write very much. After a career as a freelancer, I started to wonder if things had ground to a halt. Was this the end of the line for me? After all that work? All that research? All those accolades? As Claudia Emerson, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and onetime classmate told me, “Sometimes it’s just easier to quit.”

So, what opened my eyes, jolted my imagination, made me grab a pen and pick up my dusty journal? Colette. Thanks to a famous French author, I am writing again for the first time in months. Read More→

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