Frances Burney on What If Nobody Were Female

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At the age of fifteen Frances Burney (17752-1840), despite the tears of her younger sister, tossed the plays, poems and first novel she had written on to a bonfire. Why? She was consumed with guilt. In 1767 women were not … Continue reading

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Maya Angelou on Being Aware of Being Aware

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  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Maya Angelou Maya Angelou passed away on May 28th. A teacher, writer, poet, activist, … Continue reading

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Caroline Lee Hentz on a Child’s Yearning

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Caroline Lee Hentz (1800-1856), one of America’s most popular writers in the 1850s, sold over 93,000 copies of her more than fifteen novels and a multitude of short stories and poems. The Boston Library named her one of the top … Continue reading

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Anne Lamott on the Down Draft

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“Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can’t–and, in fact, you’re not supposed to–know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it’s finished developing. First you just point at what has … Continue reading

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Adah Issacs Menken on Working and Waiting

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“Good women are rarely clever, and clever women are rarely good.” Ada Issacs Menken Adah Issacs Menken (1835 to 1869) was a Civil War era actress, sex symbol, and pin-up girl.  She was also a dedicated writer publishing 20 essays, … Continue reading

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Annie Dillard on the Written Word

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“[If] you want to live, you have to die;”  Annie Dillard American author Annie Dillard has been called a mystic, a visionary, a naturalist and a modern Thoreau.  Her writing is  characterized as literary collage of the lyrical, the metaphoric and the richly … Continue reading

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Katherine Mansfield on Having Her Moment

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Risk, risk, everything. Katherine Mansfield Katherine Mansfield is best known for her short fiction. Born in 1888 in New Zealand, she died young at age 34. During her short life she wrote several volumes of short stories and critical literary … Continue reading

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Phillippa Yaa De Villiers on If Love Were Bread

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“…writing is so much more than words on a page. Writing contains their [the writer's]concerns, their social context, and their history.” Phillippa Yaa De Villiers An actress, a screenwriter, playwright, novelist, and poet Phillippa Yaa De Villiers grew up in South Africa. … Continue reading

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Willa Cather on the Essence of Writing

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“I had left even their spirits behind me. The wagon jolted on, carrying me I knew not where. … Between that earth and sky I felt erased, blotted out.” Willa Cather “My Antonia” Although Willa Cather (1873-1947) was born in … Continue reading

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Sonia Nieto on Culture as Transmutation

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My identity is always changing everyday. The person who I was when I was a child is different from the person I was as a young adult and the person who I am now. And those shifting identities have to … Continue reading

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Ning Lao T’ai-t’ai on the Life of a Beggar

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In the 1930s Ida Pruitt, an American living in Peking, recorded the oral life history of Ning Lao T’ai-t’ai, the elderly mother of a man working for her husband. Ning lived in the city of Penglai in Shedong Province of China in second … Continue reading

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Rosa Parks on Being a Regular Person

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The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.   Rosa Parks Christened “The First Lady of Civil Rights” Rosa Parks made history on a February day in 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to … Continue reading

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning on Love and Work

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 If marriage be a contract, look to it then, Contracting parties should be equal – Just.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) or “Ba,” as she was known as a child, was a child of privilege growing up in … Continue reading

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Pearl S. Buck on Making Meaning Out of Meaningless

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If the American way of life fails the child, it fails us more. Pearl S. Buck (1982-1973) spent all her childhood and a good part of her adult life living in China. Most of her over thirty novels are based … Continue reading

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Julia Cameron on the Language of Art

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If you do anything in the arts, then you most probably have heard of Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way. Written in 1992, her book about inspiring personal creativity and empowering the artist within has become a mainstay of artists, … Continue reading

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Isabel Allende on the End of Childhood

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Did you once believe in Santa Claus? When you were a child were fairies and dragons and ghosts real? There is something special about the world of young children and their ability to simply believe. In the following excerpt from … Continue reading

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Helen Keller on I Hesitate to Write

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“I am only one, but still I am one.” I cannot do everything, but I can still do something;  and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.” Helen Keller Perhaps you have seen … Continue reading

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Sarah Josepha Hale on Beginning a Novel

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If you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday, you can thank Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1877). Hale, the first woman magazine editor in the United States, petitioned Presidents for 17 years until Abraham Lincoln established the day in 1863. Hale believed in educating … Continue reading

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George Sand on the Working Man

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How I wish I could impart to you this sense of the intensity and joyousness of life that I have in my veins. To live! How sweet it is, and how good, in spite of annoyances, husbands, debts, relations, scandal-mongers, … Continue reading

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Elizabeth Ellet on Women of the American Revolution

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Have you ever heard of Mercy Warren, Esther Reed, Mary Philpse, or Sarah Bache? Elizabeth Fries Ellet (1818-1877) immortalized these and numerous other women in her ground-breaking work  The Women of the American Revolution in 2 volumes published in 1848. Ellet … Continue reading

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