8 Essential Novels by South African Author Nadine Gordimer

Burgers Daughter Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer (November 20, 1923 – July 13, 2013) was a South African activist and Nobel Prize-winning author. Following is a compilation of 8 essential novels by Gordimer, a good place to start when getting acquainted with her work.

Nadine Gordimer was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, three years before South Africa’s first free elections. Her work was especially relevant during the first free elections in 1994 – they remain relevant as the country moved into its next election date in March 2024.

She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, three years before South Africa’s first free elections. Read More→

Helene Hanff – Author of 84, Charing Cross Road

Helene Hanff (April 15, 1916 – April 9, 1997) was an American author and playwright. She is best known for her book 84, Charing Cross Road, an endearing collection of her twenty-year correspondence with the London antiquarian bookshop Marks & Co. on the eponymous street.

This novel was written at a low point in her career, but later went on to gain a cult following and to be adapted for film and stage.

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Joan Lindsay, Author of Picnic at Hanging Rock

Joan Lindsay

Joan Lindsay (November 16, 1896 – December 23, 1984) was an Australian author, essayist, and visual artist, best known for her mystic novel Picnic at Hanging Rock.

She began her literary career at forty years old when Through Darkest Pondelayo (1936) was published. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1966) was published when she was seventy-one. Read More→

Madame de Staël, French Political Theorist & Woman of Letters

Madame de Staël

Madame de Staël (April 22, 1766 – July 14, 1817) was a French intellectual, writer, and political theorist.  She was a staunch supporter of freedom of speech, democracy, women’s rights as well as a political enemy of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Looking at Germaine’s portrait, with her grandiose turban, silk gown, and shawl draped over her arms, the last thing she brings to mind is an 18th-century French revolutionary, but that is precisely what she was.

The author Francine du Plessix Gray called Germaine “the first modern woman.” Read More→

10 Fascinating Facts About Isabella Stewart Gardner

Chasing Beauty: The Life of Isabella Stewart Gardner

Chasing Beauty: The Life of Isabella Stewart Gardner (Mariner Books, March 2024), award–winning author Natalie Dystra delivers the definitive biographical portrait of the ambitious and innovative­—and until now misunderstood—woman behind one of America’s most important art collections.

With access to all archival holdings at the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum—including thousands of digitized and newly accessible letters and other unpublished records—as well as original sources in Paris, Venice, and more. Dykstra brings Isabella to life as never before. Read More→

Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress – Playwright, Novelist & Activist

Trouble in mind Alice Childress

Alice Childress’s first full-length play, Trouble in Mind, premiered in 1955 at an interracial theater co-sponsored by a Presbyterian church and a synagogue in Greenwich Village.

According to accounts at the time, the audience “applauded and shouted bravos, and would not leave their seats until the author was brought on stage.” Despite initial audience enthusiasm, decades would pass before the play received the recognition it has today as a classic of American theater.

The show received an Obie Award for best original off-Broadway play that season and was slated to open on Broadway in 1957, but Childress herself pulled the plug on that production. Read More→

The Friendship of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Elinor Wylie

Elinor Wylie Edna st vincent Millay

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→

Rosamond Lehmann, Author of Dusty Answer

Rosamond Lehmann

Rosamond Lehmann (February 3, 1901 – March 12, 1990) was an English novelist known for her sensitive portrayal of the emotional fabric of women’s lives and was part of the famous Bloomsbury Group in 1920s London.

Her first novel, Dusty Answer, caused a scandal for its subtle portrayal of lesbian characters, and is still her best-known work. Her novels as well as some of her non-fiction have been reissued by Virago and are now back in print.

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