Paule Marshall, author of Brown Girl, Brownstones

Paule Marshall (April 9, 1929–August 12, 2019), born Valenza Pauline Burke, was a Brooklyn-born and raised writer of Barbadian, or Bajan, heritage.

Best known for her first novel, Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), her subsequent novels and stories touch on cultural and ancestral themes relating to the Caribbean. (Photo at right: Fair use image from BlackPast.org)

Both of her parents came to the United States from Barbados, and she incorporated the experiences of West Indian immigrants as well as the social and political perspectives of college-educated Black Americans into her novels and short stories.  Read More→


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Inspiration from 6 Classic Caribbean Women Writers

How can writers reconcile the demands of the social and political moment with the demands of their craft? Caribbean women writers of color offer some models in the way they explore the rich intersection of concerns with gender, race, and colonialism through their work.

Anglophone writers with links to African and indigenous Caribbean cultures as well as to the United States or the United Kingdom (or both) express those connections with language, story, and rhythm.

Following are brief introductions to several classic Caribbean women writers, listed in order of their dates of birth — Rosa Guy, Paule Marshall (shown above), Georgina Herrera, Michelle Cliff, Mahadai Das, and Jean “Binta” Breeze. Read More→


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In Search of Virginia Woolf’s Lighthouse, Godrevy Light

 What is it that makes us long to see what the writers we love once saw? To stand in their footsteps? Do we imagine that some fairy dust will fall from nearby trees or rise from abandoned floorboards to bring us the wisdom or the art that flowed from their fingers to their manuscripts, whether through pens or pencils, typewriter keys, or pixels?

That’s what was on my mind on a visit to Cornwall, England, when I was determined to get to Godrevy Light, the lighthouse that inspired Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. Read More→


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How Mary Ann Evans Became George Eliot

In September 1856, the 36-year-old woman heretofore known as Mary Ann Evans (alternatively Marian) wrote in her journal that she had “made a new era” in her life, “for it was then I began to write fiction.”

It was a new era in another way, as well, because it was soon after this that Mary Ann Evans began to transform herself into the author we know as the eminent British novelist and essayist, George Eliot (1819 – 1880).

Mary Ann Evans was in the process of reinventing herself in several ways. A few months after she began writing fiction, she sent a letter to her beloved brother Isaac in which she announced, “You will be surprised to learn … that I have changed my name and have someone to take care of me in the world.” Read More→


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Ruth Moore, Chronicler of Coastal Maine

I became aware of novelist and poet Ruth Moore (July 21, 1903–December, 1989) while vacationing in Maine. Walking through a parking lot in Acadia National Park, I spotted a bumper sticker: “I Read Ruth Moore.”

That’s how a lotof people learn of Ruth Moore. Like me, they spot one of the three hundred bumper stickers spread around eastern Maine by publisher Gary Lawless and then they begin to investigate.

What they’ll find out is that Moore was a best-selling novelist (her second novel, Spoonhandle, spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, along with George Orwell and Somerset Maugham, when it was published in 1946). Read More→


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