Marilyn French

Marilyn French (November 21, 1929 – May 2, 2009) was an American author and radical feminist activist best known for her debut novel, The Women’s Room. French wrote many other controversial works, though this novel made her a major literary star in the modern feminist movement.

Born Marilyn Edwards in Brooklyn, New York, she was the daughter of third-generation Polish immigrants. Her father, E. Charles Edwards was an engineer and her mother, Isabel Hazz Edwards, was a department store clerk.

While growing up, French recalled that her mother was the dominant figure in the family’s poor household. This became an early lesson in her life to not succumb to male authority.

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Sic Transit Gloria Mundi — an early poem by Emily Dickinson (1852)

The Essential Emily Dickinson

“Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” was the first poem by Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) to be published. Without her prior knowledge or consent, it appeared in the February 20, 1852 issue of the Springfield Daily Republican newspaper.

Emily, then age 21, wasn’t pleased. Still a budding poet, she was not at all interested in publication. In her teens and twenties, she may have been reserved and a bit shy, but nothing to hint at how reclusive she would become in her later years. In fact, she and her sister Lavinia (Vinnie) enjoyed quite an active social life in their youth. Read More→

Bringing Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn to the Big Screen

phantom lady (Joan Harrison) by Christina Lane

The following is excerpted from Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock, published by Chicago Review Press. © 2020 by Christina Lane.

In the summer of 1938, Alfred Hitchcock signed on to direct an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier‘s novel Jamaica Inn, which was to be his last British film before venturing to Hollywood. The preeminent producer Erich Pommer and lead actor Charles Laughton were already lined up to produce the movie through their jointly owned company Mayflower Pictures. Read More→

Kamala Das — Indian Poet and a Woman Ahead of Her Time

Kamala Das (1934 – 2009) started her career as a poet writing under the name of Madhavi Kutty. The renowned Indian author was bilingual and wrote in her mother tongue, Malayalam, as well as in English. 

Born in Punnayurkulam, India as Kamala Surayya, she was better known in her home state of Kerala for her short stories and her autobiography, and in the rest of the country, for her English poetry. Her explosive autobiography, My Story, written in Malayalam (her native tongue), gained her both fame and notoriety. Later, it was translated into English. Read More→

The Cry of the Children by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“The Cry of the Children” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, first published in 1843, is an example of the esteemed British poet’s foray into the area of social protest poetry.

With the 19th century’s industrial revolution in full force, the poem forcefully decries the all-too-common exploitation of children as laborers, placing blame on both the social structures and institutions that allowed the practice to spread. Read More→

A Wagner Matinee by Willa Cather – 1904 short story (full text)

A wagner matinee by Willa Cather

The short story “A Wagner Matinee” by Willa Cather was first published in the February, 1904 issue of Everybody’s Magazine. It became part of Cather’s first book of short stories, collected under the title The Troll Garden (1906). Following is the full text of  “A Wagner Matinee.”

Plot summary

Clark, a young man living in Boston, finds out that his Aunt Georgiana is coming to town from Nebraska to settle an estate. As a younger woman, Georgiana was an esteemed music teacher at the Boston Conservatory. While on a trip to the Green Mountains of Vermont, she met Howard Carpenter, a man ten years younger than she. The two eloped and began a homestead in Nebraska. Read More→

The Betsy-Tacy Books by Maud Hart Lovelace: An Appreciation

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

Revisiting the Deep Valley novels by Maud Hart Lovelace (1892 – 1980) during the winter holiday season is a particular delight, though this American author’s stories can be enjoyed year-round. Perhaps better known as the Betsy-Tacy books, the themes celebrated in these nostalgic novels for young readers are universal: friendship, devotion, love of home, ambition, and comfort.

Though the novels were published in the 1940s, they take place in the early years of the twentieth century, when the author herself was growing up. As young girls, her well-known heroines—Betsy, Tacy, and Tib—have ten cents to spend on Christmas shopping. As they grow up, in Betsy and Joe (1948), for instance, they have “real shopping” to do, but their trip downtown is as “heavily weighted with tradition as a Christmas pudding with plums.”

They visit every store (including Cook’s Book Store) and price “everything from diamonds to gumdrops, and bought, each one, a Christmas tree ornament … savoring Christmas together all up and down Front Street.” It’s a simple and comforting ritual. Read More→

Winifred Holtby

Winifred Holtby, British author

Winifred Holtby (June 23, 1898 – September 29, 1935) was an accomplished British author, journalist, and activist. Best known for her posthumously published novel, South Riding (1936), she had published six novels in her lifetime, and fourteen books in total.

She also had a successful career in journalism and wrote the first critical study of Virginia Woolf in English. During her lifetime, her fame derived from her work for prominent newspapers and magazines, including the feminist publication Time and Tide. She wrote about democracy and social welfare, feminism and pacifism, education and responsibility, racism and injustice.

After her death, her fame grew with the publication of Testament of Friendship (1940), written by her lifelong friend, Vera Brittain. Read More→

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