Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee (1989)

Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee 1989

Bharati Mukherjee (1940 – 2017), who made her life in America, has written many books about the immigrant experience. Jasmine, published in 1989, is probably among the best as it picks up on the transition in a very nuanced fashion, not sparing us the horrors, either.

It is quite likely that the author’s personal experiences have contributed to the deep insights that can grab readers and keep them riveted. Mukherjee was born in what is now called Kolkata (Calcutta at the time she was born when under Indian rule). In the course of her prolific career, she wrote many works of fiction and nonfiction and taught at a number of American universities. Read More→


A Selection of 10 Poems by Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Bronte Portrait

The Brontë sisters — Charlotte, Emily, and Anne — literary geniuses all, are best known for their classic novels, but each was a poet in her own right. Though Emily’s has come to be known as the best among their poetic works, poems by Charlotte Brontë are more than meriting of a consideration.

Charlotte is best known for Jane Eyre (1847) and also wrote Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853). Before attempting to publish novels, Charlotte undertook the task of finding a home for a collaborative book of poems, thinking it would be a good stepping stone (it wasn’t, as it turned out). The sisters took masculine, or at least indeterminate, noms de plume. In Charlotte’s words:

“We had very early cherished the dream of one day becoming authors. This dream, never relinquished even when distance divided and absorbing tasks occupied us, now suddenly acquired strength and consistency: it took the character of a resolve. We agreed to arrange a small section of our poems, and, if possible, get them printed. Read More→


10 Modernist Women Writers Who Shouldn’t be Forgotten

Female authors have always been overshadowed by men, but this does not make their writing any weaker or lesser than. Though popular Modernist works in today’s day tend to gravitate toward the male voice, the following Modernist women writers were well known in their day.

Some of their work has fallen into a literary abyss, where little attention has been given to them almost a century later. Their names appeared regularly on bestseller lists in the 20th century, and they were no strangers to readers. At right, May Sinclair.

Most of these women were connected to one another in some way, either through schooling, a crossing of literary paths, or in reviewing another’s work. Read More→


An 1848 Review of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

The tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was published in 1848 under Anne Brontë ’s pseudonym, Acton Bell. It’s now considered one of the earliest feminist novels. Following you’ll find an original review of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, first published  under Anne’s pseudonym, Acton Bell.

More so than Anne’s quieter first novel, Agnes Grey (1847), The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was an immediate success. That was despite its being considered shocking by some readers and critics for its unflinching look at the harms of alcoholism and abuse that arose from it.

The novel tells the story of the mysterious Helen Graham, and her arrival at Wildfell Hall with her young son and a servant. Through a series of letters from another character, we learn of Helen’s troubled past.  Read More→


10 Fascinating Facts about Julia Ward Howe

Julia ward howe - writer of the battle hymn of the republic

Julia Ward Howe (1819 – 1910) was an American poet, essayist, editor, speaker, and activist extraordinaire, especially in the causes of abolition, suffrage, and the advancement of women everywhere. 

Although her iconic “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is ubiquitous in patriotic, inspirational, and popular settings, its author is far less known. Let’s look at 10 fascinating facts about the woman behind the verses. 

Howe was born on Bond Street and Broadway in New York City to an affluent, Calvinist family; when she was five, her mother died in childbirth. She was educated in a home with its own library and art gallery and well-propertied for a secure future. Her heroic but controlling husband stymied her spirit and mishandled her land holdings. Read More→


All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West (1931)

All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West, a 1931 novel, was one of this British author’s most popular works. Its major theme is that of gaining control over one’s own life, and it also addresses the constrictions of class and gender.

We meet Lady Slane, who has lived her adult life as the dutiful wife of a powerful politician and a respectable mother.  Her husband having just passed away, she’s already well into in her eighties but determined to live out her remaining days to their fullest. Read More→


The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier (1931)

The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier 1

Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989), the prolific British novelist, playwright, and short story writer started her publishing career at age twenty-two with her first novel, The Loving Spirit (1931).

The title was inspired by the name of a poem by Emily Brontë. It’s well known that du Maurier was greatly inspired by the Brontë sisters; her masterwork, Rebecca (1938), has echoes of Jane Eyre.

Beginning in the early 1800s, The Loving Spirit tells the story of the Coombes family, and is mainly set in Cornwall, a part of England in which the author spent much of her life. Janet Coombes marries her cousin, Thomas Coombes, who is a shipbuilder. The novel follows the adventures and trials of this family for four generations. Read More→


The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield (1924)

The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield

An ahead-of-its-time novel, The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (at the time known as Dorothy Canfield), published in 1924 by Harcourt, Brace & Co., imagined a domestic role-reversal.

Quite a rare set of circumstances to consider in its time, Evangeline and Lester Knapp were both going through the motions of their proscribed gender roles as parents. An accident forced them to reverse roles out of necessity, and from that adversity, their family found strength and happiness.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879 – 1958) was an American author, educational reformer, and social activist based in New England and identified most closely with Vermont. She earned a Ph.D in 1905, was able to speak five languages, and worked for the cause of refugees in Europe. Read More→


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