Wilma Rudolph, Groundbreaking Athlete for the Ages — in Pages

Wilma Rudolph postage stamp

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→

Rosamond du Jardin and the American Midcentury Teen Novel

Boy Trouble by Rosamond du Jardin

Before there was a designated Young Adult category in publishing, Rosamond du Jardin (1902 – 1963) was known for her novels for the teen reader. Once dismissed as formulaic and dated, her novels are getting a second look, especially in gender studies. Literary critic Claudia Mills wrote that “they are illuminating as cultural documents, revealing how the values of their decade were transmitted to young readers via the vehicle of story.”

This re-introduction to du Jardin’s books and heroines is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century Woman’s Novel by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

Rosamond du Jardin had written four adult novels and a large number of light short stories for women’s magazines before she started to write books for the teenage market. Read More→

Diana and Persis — Louisa May Alcott’s Unfinished Novel

Louisa May Alcott portrait courtesy of LMA Orchard House

Susan Bailey of Louisa May Alcott is My Passion describes Diana and Persis, Louisa May Alcott‘s unfinished novel, as compelling, revealing, biographical, and thus, tragically incomplete:

By the 1870s, Louisa May Alcott and her baby sister May had become close companions. Although quite different in temperament, both shared that burning ambition to become the artists they were meant to be – Louisa as a best-selling author, and May as an acclaimed painter, exhibiting at the Paris Salon. Read More→

Books about Bookshops, Libraries, & Reading for True Bibliophiles

Bibliophile - an illustrated miscellany by Jane Mount

For bibliophiles, it’s not enough to be so obsessed with books that we’re reading four or five works of fiction or nonfiction at any given time. We also love books about bookshops, libraries, and even books about books and reading! This might seem eccentric at first glance, but for the devout book lover, it makes perfect sense.

Here’s a slew of books for book lovers that celebrate the passion for the page. At left, Bibliophile: An Illustrated History by Jane Mount, which kicks off this list.

In this list you’ll find a book about so-called “book towns” around the world; a celebration of libraries; a musing on the art of reading itself; a collection on the thrill of finding rare books; a few books on bookshops, and a book on the joy of  bibliomania. What perfect gifts these make for the book nerds in your life — or for yourself, if you fit that description!  Read More→

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck: An Appreciation

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Revisiting a book many years after the first reading and still being able to connect is one of the greatest joys of rediscovering great authors. It’s no surprise that Pearl S. Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for The Good Earth and also went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

This novel, published in 1931, was the first in her House of Earth trilogy, followed by Sons and A House Divided. It made it to the bestselling lists in the United States, both in 1931 and 1932. The author, as the daughter of missionaries, grew up in China and based this work of historical fiction on her personal observations of village life around her.

Possibly the most interesting consequence of the author’s sympathetic depiction of the protagonists, farmer Wang Lung and his wife O-Lan, was in helping Americans of that period to be accepting of the Chinese as allies against the rumblings of war against Japan. Perhaps even Buck couldn’t have anticipated the impact that her book had — and continued to have — on her fellow Americans. Read More→

That is the New Rhythm: Mina Loy and Marianne Moore

Mina Loy 1917 by Man Ray

A reflection on the period in which Mina Loy and Marianne Moore, modernist poets (among other talents) crossed paths in the early 1920s. Excerpted from Everybody I Can Think of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

The poetry of Mina Loy was often compared and sometimes published next to that of the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap put them together in the issue of Little Review that immediately followed their obscenity conviction for printing Ulysses, some time around 1920.

Man Ray took photographs of both of them specially; opposites in looks but potential sisters in their view of female sexuality. And the only issue of the magazine New York Dada had both an article mocking Loy’s relationship with Cravan and a portrait of the Baroness, this time wearing only her jewelry, as the “naked truth” of Dada. Read More→

Mina Loy, Modernist Poet, Playwright, and Artist

Mina Loy

Mina Loy (December 27, 1882 – September 25, 1966) was a brilliant English-born poet, playwright, and artist. Light years ahead of her time, she was lauded by her peers for her dense analyses of the female experience in early twentieth-century Western society.

She was associated with other great minds and literary innovators of her time, like T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Beach, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, and others. Read More→

The Road Through the Wall by Shirley Jackson: An Analysis

The Road Through The Wall by Shirley Jackson 1948

This analysis of The Road Through the Wall focuses on its young heroine, Harriet Merriam and is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century Woman’s Novel by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

The Road Through the Wall was Shirley Jackson’s first novel, published in 1948. That was also the year when her short story, “The Lottery,” was published, making her instantly famous (as well as infamous). 

Jackson claimed that the novel was loosely based on her childhood growing up in a well-to-do neighborhood in California. Admitting that this book was somewhat of a revenge novel, she asserted that a first novel’s purpose, after all, was to get back one’s parents. Read More→