Charlie Laborde, Tomboy-Poet of Kate Chopin’s “Charlie”(1900)

The complete works of Kate Chopin

One of Kate Chopin’s most interesting heroines is the tomboyish teen Charlie Laborde of the eponymous short story “Charlie” (1900). This fascinating musing on this little-known character is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in mid-20th Century Women’s Fiction by Francis Booth, reprinted with permission:

Girls in coming of age novels often keep diaries: it is a very good device for an author to let us in on the girl’s feelings, and in this case for the author to enjoy herself playing with ideas of fiction, style and truth.

The authors themselves had in many cases kept diaries as a teenager: as a fourteen-year-old, Louisa May Alcott wrote in hers: ‘I have made a plan for my life, as I am in my teens, and no more a child. I have not told anyone about my plan; but I’m going to be good.’ Read More→


Literary Tomboys in Classic Coming-of-Age Novels by Women Authors

Little women by Louisa May Alcott

According to the dictionary, a tomboy is “an energetic, sometimes boisterous girl whose behavior and pursuits … are considered more typical of boys than girls.” This anachronistic social construct is, alas, still present in this day and age, even as gender norms have loosened. The insightful musing on literary tomboys presented here is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in mid-20th Century Women’s Fiction by Francis Booth, reprinted with permission:

The word tomboy goes back to the sixteenth century in England; it was first recorded in 1553, when it meant a ‘boisterous boy,’ but it soon changed its meaning. The Oxford English Dictionary of 1579 defines it as a ‘bold or immodest woman;’ perhaps from the word ‘tom,’ which had the implication of a prostitute for centuries. Shakespeare used tomboy in this sense in Cymbeline, 1611, as did Thomas Middleton in A Game at Chess, 1624. Read More→


The Sublime Poetry of Sappho, Ancient Greek Poetess

Sappho

This celebration of the indescribably brilliant and sublime poetry by ancient Greek poetess, Sappho (born around 620 BCE in Lesbos, Greece) was originally published in BookRiot. Contributed by Nancy Snyder; reprinted by permission. The poems by Sappho presented following the introduction were all translated from the Greek.

“Although only breath, words which I command are immortal,” wrote Sappho around 510 BC. And how glad we are that we have Sappho’s words all these centuries later.

Sappho’s lyric poetry, poetry meant to be accompanied by a lyre and sung, entices us to discover Eros and Aphrodite (the god and goddess of romantic love) and all the earthly delights that accompanies such natural pursuits. Read More→


A White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett (full text)

A white heron and other stories by Sarah Orne Jewett

“A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett (1849 – 1900) is one of this esteemed New England author’s most widely anthologized short stories, originally published by Houghton, Mifflin and Co. in 1886. Shortly thereafter, it was the title story in Jewett’s collection, A White Heron and Other Stories

The story focuses on a city girl named Sylvia who comes to live in the countryside with her grandmother. She meets a hunter who is seeking a rare bird. Sylvia is torn as to whether she should tell him that she spotted the bird. As the story progresses, she grows to love country living and the animals who are part of its habitats.

Sarah Orne Jewett’s short stories and novels reflected her love for the natural surroundings of her native South Berwick, Maine. The coastal community served as the fictionalized setting for most of her novels and short stories. Read More→


Mother and Poet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“Mother and Poet” is a poem by esteemed British poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861). Written in a confessional manner, it’s a mother’s lament for having lost two sons serving in war. Though this poem isn’t autobiographical, Elizabeth had endured the sudden death of a beloved brother, and perhaps this allowed her to effectively convey the trauma of losing loved ones.

Suffused with grief and guilt, the mother narrating the poem exalts the bravery of her soldier sons doing battle in Italy. At the same time, it conveys the mother’s pain of the personal loss.

“Mother and Poet” was one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s later poems, published in Last Poems (1862). If she wasn’t speaking of herself in this poem, to who might it have been referring? Read More→


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.

Read More→


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→


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