Sylvia Beach (1887 – 1962) was the legendary owner of the legendary bookshop Shakespeare and Company the meeting place for all of literary Paris in the 1920s, and the publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922. This musing on her active years in literary Paris is excerpted from Everybody I Can Think Of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.
Beach wrote her own résumé towards the end of her life in a letter dated April 23, 1951, to the American Library in post-war Paris, when she donated the remaining books from Shakespeare and Company to them. Read More→
Wilma Rudolph (1940 – 1994) was a groundbreaking American Olympic champion in the field of running. As the most visible and famed Black female athlete of time, she inspired generations who came after her. Running was her passion, and she became an icon in the civil rights and women’s rights movements as well.
Books about Wilma Rudolph continue to tell her story, most aimed at younger readers who draw inspiration from her remarkable life. Here, we’ll take a look at some of them, starting with her own 1977 autobiography, Wilma.
In this slim but action-packed volume she told the story of how she, a Black woman athlete facing many obstacles, won both in life and in the toughest sports competitions in the world. She has the distinction of being the first American ever to take home three gold medals from a single Olympics. Read More→
Beryl Markham (October 26, 1902 – August 3, 1986) is perhaps best remembered as a pioneering aviatrix, becoming the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic nonstop from Britain to North America. She was also a racehorse trainer and had torrid love affairs and tepid marriages, all of which she recounted in her famed 1942 memoir, West with the Night.
Born Beryl Clutterbuck, she seemed at first destined to lead the kind of life described in old English novels – an uneventful childhood in a grand country house; schooling in literature, language, and sewing by a Jane Eyre-like governess; attending swish parties and tea dances until the day a handsome man from a fine family proposes, and that would be that. Then, having babies, supervising the staff, gardening, and fox hunting for the rest of her life.
But Fate had other ideas. Beryl spent her childhood in Kenya, and grew up to breed champion racehorses and pilot planes. Encouraged by Antoine de Saint Exupery, she wrote what would become a classic memoir about Africa, West with the Night. This book, Ernest Hemingway opined, was so good it made him feel ashamed because “she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers.” As is well known, Hemingway was rarely complimentary towards fellow writers. Read More→
Isabelle Eberhardt (February 17, 1877 – October 21, 1904) was a Swiss-born traveler and writer. From an early age she dreamed of escaping to North Africa, a dream that was nourished by the exotic fantasies of desert life that were popular at the time, and in her early twenties, she left Europe to make Algeria her home.
Her exploration of the deserts and cities of the Mahgreb, usually disguised as a man, has become legendary. She was a prolific writer, but much of her work — including travelogues, diaries, and short stories — was only published after her death in a freak accident at the age of twenty-seven. Read More→
Margaret C. Anderson (November 24, 1886 – October 18, 1973) was a daring, headstrong writer, editor, and founder of the modernist literary magazine, The Little Review. This modernist journal, published from 1914 to 1929, was dedicated to the best writing and art of the early twentieth century.
Margaret was later known as one of “The Women of the Rope,” a group of writers and artists who studied with the famous Russian mystic Gurdjieff, part of a group seeking transformation and possible enlightenment.