12 Poems by Anne Brontë

anne bronte

Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are best known for their classic novels; each was also a poet in her own right. Though Emily is acknowledged as the finest poet of the trio, Anne’s poetry is more than worthy of consideration. Here are presented 12 poems by Anne Brontë (1820 – 1849).

Anne wrote two novels, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, before her death at age 29. Before the sisters attempted to publish their first novels, Charlotte undertook the task of putting together and finding a home for a collaborative book of their poems, hoping that it would be a stepping stone (it wasn’t, as it turned out). They assumed masculine (or at least vague) noms de plume to disguise their identities. In Charlotte’s words: Read More→

Forgotten Suffragists for Younger Readers: The Voice of Liberty by Angelica Shirley Carpenter

The voice of liberty - (matilda joslyn gage))

Matilda Joslyn Gage was born in 1826 in Cicero, New York, near Syracuse. The important role she played in the women’s suffrage movement has been marginalized, overshadowed by figures like Susan B. Anthony and Eliabeth Cady Stanton.

“All of the crimes which I was not guilty of rushed through my mind,” Gage wrote later, “but I failed to remember that I was a born criminal—a woman.” Her crime: registering to vote. The verdict: guilty as charged.

Angelica Shirley Carpenter has a new picture book out for grades 2 – 6: The Voice of Liberty, with illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham, published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press (2020). The book tells how three suffragists, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Lillie Devereux Blake, and Lillie’s daughter, Katherine “Katie” Devereux Blake, led a protest at the 1886 dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Read More→

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (1979)

Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (1979) is perhaps the best-known work by British author Angela Carter (1940 – 1992). A novelist, short story writer, and journalist, she earned a reputation as one of Britain’s most original writers.

Her influences ranged from fairy tales, gothic fantasy, and Shakespeare to surrealism and the cinema of Godard and Fellini. Her work broke taboos and was often considered provocative.

The Bloody Chamber is a collection of re-envisioned imaginings (not, as often described, retellings) of classic European fairy tales. They range in length from very short stories to novellas, and include: Read More→

The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf (full text)

The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf

“The Mark on the Wall,” one of Virginia Woolf‘s early short stories, was published in her first collection of fiction, Monday or Tuesday (1921). It was a prime example of the kind of complex (and sometimes perplexing) modernist short stories that she produced especially in her first years of publishing.

Before getting to the full text of the story, here is a link to an excellent summary and analysis of the story, as well as Leonard Woolf’s foreword to A Haunted House and Other Short Stories, an updated collection that also included this story, published posthumously in 1944. Read More→

Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

new editions of the parable series by Octavia E Butler

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler are a duo of books intended to have become a trilogy, though the third never came to be. Now that we inhabit the time in which the novels actually take place, they’re more eerily prescient than ever.

When Parable of Sower (1993) begins, Lauren Olamina is a young Black woman just emerging from her teens, navigating the apocalyptic world of Los Angeles in the 2020s. A fight — and flight — for survival leads to her create a new faith called Earthseed, in hopes of repairing the world.

We find Lauren once again at the center of Parable of the Talents, now a young mother and still fighting to salvage humanity with Earthseed, the new faith she founded. Now she’s battling violent bigots and religious fanatics.

Read More→

Beautiful New Editions of Octavia E. Butler Classics

Seed to Harvest by Octavia E. Butler

It’s possible that Octavia E. Butler’s speculative, dystopian, and science fiction novels and short stories have been over-described as “prescient.” But there’s hardly a better word for many of her major works, and in tandem with her keen observance of human nature, they’ve transcended genre to become classic literature.

In her New York Times obituary, Butler was described as “an internationally acclaimed science fiction writer whose evocative, often troubling novels explore far-reaching issues of race, sex, power, and ultimately, what it meant to be human.” Read More→

Imagining Helen: The Life of Translator Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter

Helen Tracy Lowe Porter

I first heard about Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter (1876 – 1963) when I fell in love with her grandson, a visiting American graduate student at my university in New Zealand. I knew of the great German novelist Thomas Mann but had not read his novels, and certainly had never wondered about how they came to appear in English.

“My grandmother was Mann’s translator,” my new boyfriend informed me. I was mildly impressed. He told me a little about her: how forbiddingly intellectual she was, how un-grandmotherly.

His mother, Patricia, who soon became my mother-in-law, always spoke with mixed awe and resentment of her illustrious mother, though adoringly of her illustrious father, a renowned paleographer. Read More→

6 Essential Novels by Daphne du Maurier

My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier

If you want to delve into the novels of Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989), where should you begin? The prolific British novelist, playwright, and short-story writer launched her publishing career at age twenty-two with The Loving Spirit (1931), her first novel. She went on to publish numerous works of full-length and short fiction as well as nonfiction and plays.

Arguably, Rebecca (1938) is du Maurier’s masterwork and best-known work. And there’s a group of novels among her canon that approach it in terms of quality and longevity.  Here we’ll list the books that Dame Daphne is best remembered for.

With the exception of The Loving Spirit, all of the following have also been made into well-known films, sometimes more than once. Read More→

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