Jane Austen, the Secret Radical: How She Would Have Liked to Be Read

Jane Austen, the secret radical

In Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, author Helena Kelly looks past the grand houses, drawing room dramas, and witty dialogue that have long been the hallmarks of Jane Austen‘s work to bring to light the serious, ambitious, subversive concerns of this beloved writer. Kelly illuminates the radical views — on such subjects as slavery, poverty, feminism, marriage, and the church — that Austen deftly and carefully explored in her six novels, at a time when open criticism was considered treason.

Kelly shows us that Austen was fully aware of what was going on in the world during the turbulent times she lived in, and sure of what she thought of it. Above all, Austen understood that the novel — until then dismissed as mindless and frivolous — could be a meaningful art form, one that in her hands reached unprecedented heights of greatness. Read More→


Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton poet

Anne Sexton (November 9, 1928 – October 4, 1974), born Anne Gray Harvey, was an American poet. Though she was considered one of the pioneers of modern confessional poetry, her artistry reached far beyond that genre. Born in Newton, MA, she grew up in a middle-class home in Weston, MA.

Her dysfunctional family life set the stage for her lifelong struggles with mental illness. Her father was an alcoholic, and her mother, a housewife with frustrated literary aspirations. Anne’s later writings reflect an upbringing of abuse and hostility. Read More→


Ruth Gruber: Journalist, Documentary Photographer, Humanitarian

ruth gruber, photojournalist

Ruth Gruber (1911 – 2016) led a life that was so incredible, it could have been a movie. And in fact, just one of the many courageous episodes in her 105-year life was made into a film. Ruth’s multi-faceted career as a journalist and documentary photographer isn’t as well known as it should be, and as with many women who were ahead of their time, deserves to be revisited and celebrated.

The daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Ruth was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She was a brilliant student with a passion for Jewish culture, and always loved to write. At age fifteen she started college and was only twenty when she completed her doctorate in 1931 at the University of Cologne in Germany. That made her the world’s youngest Ph.D. at the time. Read More→


Women’s Writing Conferences and Retreats in the U.S.

teacup and books by anete lusina

Why should you consider attending women’s writing conferences and retreats (including, of course, women-identified writers)? Pretty much the same reason a lot of us enjoy women-only reading groups. Dudes just bring a different energy to the room, and sometimes we just need to be in a setting where our voices are sure to be heard, where we feel supported and valued.

There are lots of benefits to attending writer’s conferences, not the least of which is networking. You’ll meet writers in all stages of their careers; learn to pitch yourself and your work efficiently, hone your skills, get constructive critiques, and more. It’s a rare attendee that doesn’t leave a conference feeling energized and inspired. Read More→


Jane on the Brain: Jane Austen and Empathy

Jane on the Brain by Wendy Jones

Jane on the Brain: Exploring the Science of Social Intelligence with Jane Austen by Wendy Jones (Pegasus Books, © 2017) is an exploration of how Jane Austen was able to capture human psychology via relatable characters in compelling stories. Following is an excerpt from the book introducing the role of empathy in Austen’s novels, but first, a few words from the publisher:

“Why is Jane Austen so phenomenally popular? Why do we read Pride and Prejudice again and again? Why do we delight in Emma’s mischievous schemes? Why do we care about the suffering of Anne Elliot in Persuasion?

We care because it is our biological destiny to be interested in people and their stories — the human brain is a social brain. And Austen’s characters are so believable that, for many of us, they are not just imaginary beings, but friends whom we know and love. And thanks to Austen’s ability to capture the breadth and depth of human psychology so richly, we feel that she empathizes with us, her readers. Read More→


“Objects” from Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein (1914)

Tender buttons by Gertrude Stein

One of Gertrude Stein’s earliest published works, Tender Buttons (1914) is this delightfully perplexing author’s attempt to “create a relationship between the word and the things seen.” 

Especially in the first years since its publication, critics have been divided between praising Tender Buttons as a masterwork of of experimental cubist literature, or trashing it as pure nonsense. Contemporary interpretations tend to find it praiseworthy. Whatever camp you find yourself in, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that this slim volume of prose poetry is entertaining, if more than occasionally head-scratching. You can read two original reviews from the time of its 1914 publication here. Read More→


Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein: Experiment in Cubist Poetry, or Literary Prank?

Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein - the centennial edition

Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946) is this gloriously perplexing author’s absurdist collection of prose-poems — if you want to call them that. Critics have long been divided as to whether this 1914 book is a brilliant compilation of cubist literature or Stein’s intentional prank on the reading public.

One of Stein’s earliest published works, Tender Buttons is an experiment in language, her attempt to “create a word relationship between the word and the things seen.” Since Stein was so much the self-proclaimed genius, it’s doubtful she would have created this slim volume purely as a joke. Read More→


Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Marilla of Green Gables, a novel by Sarah McCoy (2018), is a historical journey that imagines the life of Marilla Cuthbert long before she and her brother Matthew adopt Anne Shirley, better known to readers as Anne of Green Gables.

In the publisher’s words: “For anyone who loves the original Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and longs for more stories from Prince Edward Island, Marilla of Green Gables, a new novel by New York Times Bestselling author Sarah McCoy (William Morrow, October 23, 2018) will be an incredibly rewarding rewarding return to the beloved stories. Read More→


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