Anne Morrow Lindbergh on the Art of Solitude

 In my nightstand I keep a small book that has spoken to me many times when life becomes a whirring blur of "to dos" and "musts" and "didn'ts." That book is Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001). Lindbergh wrote the book in 1955 while living alone on Captiva Island in Florida where she …

Barbara Ehrenreich on Special Costs

Barbara Ehrenreich is a well-known investigative reporter and social commentator. She has been called a myth buster and a muckraker for her unflagging devotion to uncovering the silent and contradictory spaces in our national persona. A chemist with a doctorate in cellular immunology, Ehrenreich has chosen to focus her life's work on changing the national discourse on …

Audre Lorde on Sold on Reading

"One oppression does not justify another."  Audre Lorde (1934-1992) Writer Audre Lorde identified herself as an outsider. Black, feminist, lesbian and angry, she demanded space at the table for those who were marginalized by society. The daughter of West Indian immigrants she found her voice first through poetry and then in essays and novels. A victim of breast …

Sandra Cisneros on Too Many Kids

They say I'm a beast. And feast on it. When all along I thought that's what a woman was. from the poem "Loose Woman" by Sandra Cisneros Recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, Sandra Cisneros is more than an award-winning author of novels, poems, and children's literature. A teacher, artist-in-residence, and arts administration, she has long been a force …

Kamilah on Peace: The Afghan Women’s Writing Project

The Afghan Women's Writing Project is based on the belief that to tell one's story is a human right. The Project was started in 2009 by Marsha Hamilton after watching the execution of Zarmeena for the alleged murder of her husband. She visited Afghanistan and set out to give a voice to women whose voices have …

Brenda Ueland on why women should write

"Think of telling a story, not writing it." Brenda Ueland (1891-1986) is best known as a journalist and teacher of writing. She wrote radio scripts, covered the trial of Vidkun Quisling in Norway, and wrote several memoirs. The Norwegian Arctic explorer and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 67 year-old Fridjtof Nansen fell deeply in love with the 37 …

Kathy Hepinstall and The Circle of Life

Kathy Hepinstall is a contemporary best-selling author. She has written four novels including The House of Gentle Men, The Absence of Nectar, and Prince of Lost Places. The following excerpt is taken from her 2012 novel Blue Asylum. This is the story of a Civil War era plantation owner's wife who is committed to an insane asylum because …

Anne Frank on Paper as Patience

Anne Frank would have been 84 this month. Born June 12, 1929 in Frankfort, Germany Anne Frank's diary is world-renowned, even though she wrote it as a young girl of thirteen. Forty-five million copies  of the diary, composed when her family and she were hiding from the Nazis during World War II, have been sold, and it has been translated into …

Louisa May Alcott on Washing the Wounded

"I WANT something to do." This remark being addressed to the world in general, no one in particular felt it their duty to reply; so I repeated it to the smaller world about me, received the following suggestions, and settled the matter by answering my own inquiry, as people are apt to do when very …

Mary T. McCarthy on Being a Loser

On Monday mornings, at recess, Nemesis exacted its price; we wretches all loyally "stuck together," like pieces of melting candy in the linty recesses of a coat pocket. Mary McCarthy Mary McCarthy (1912-1984), satirist, critic, and award-winning fiction writer (two Guggenheim Fellowships and a National Medal for Literature), was placed in the Sacred Heart convent …

Eleanor Munroe on My Mother, Amply Pregnant

On this Mother's Day I ask us to think about our mothers, both real and fictive, and their role in our creative lives. Eleanor Munroe is best known for her in depth studies of the relationship between artists and their art. In 1979 she wrote Originals: American Women Artists in which she brought a new perspective …

Anne Bradstreet on Offspring of My Feeble Brain

How would you feel if someone made copies of your private poems, carried them across the ocean, and unbeknownst to you published them in a book? Anne Dudley Bradstreet arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. She was among the first Puritans to settle in Salem, New England. A well-educated woman from a well-to-do …

Rachel Carson on Agents of Death

 "The beauty of the living world I was trying to save has always been uppermost in my mind - that, and anger at the senseless, brutish things that were being done. . . . Now I can believe I have at least helped a little." Today, as we remember Rachel Carson (1907-1964) in the context …

Eva Hoffman on Allergic to Words

"I think every immigrant becomes an amateur anthropologist--you do notice things about the culture or world that you come into that people who grow up in it, who are very embedded in it, simply don't notice." Eva Hoffman Eva Hoffman was uprooted from Poland in 1959 when she was fourteen and brought to Canada by her parents who …

Judith Sargent Murray on the Female Mind

"What a censorious world says of me, cannot offend me or permanently hurt me. Was it to commend me, it would do me no real service...I'd rather have an unspotted conscience." Judith Sargent Murray (1751 to 1820) was the most prominent woman essayist of her time. She was also a poet, a playwright, and a novelist. …

Flannery O’Connor on Too Much Interpretation

Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) is best known for her short stories set in the South. Often about religious theme ,her stories are often humorous, but with a disturbing quality underneath that leaves the reader faintly puzzled and uneasy. As a child she grew up in Savanna, Georgia, went to Catholic school, drew cartoons, and wrote stories. Later when she had …

Aphra Behn on Foppery

"All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn … for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.” Virginia Wolf The first woman to make a living solely from her writing is Aphra Behn (1640-1689) who lived in the time of the English Restoration under Charles the 2nd. …

Toni Morrison on Ritual and Writing

Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning author Toni Morrison is known for her novels which explore the good, the evil, and the love in human souls. She has written numerous novels including The Bluest Eye (1970), Song of Solomon (1977), Beloved (1987), and most recently Home (2010). She has also written children's books The Big Box and …

Helen J. Langer on Mindlessness

Helen J. Langer was the first woman to attain tenure in the psychology department at Harvard University. Langer is known for her edgy experiments into the power of the mind over the body and is considered a progenitor of the positive psychology movement. Langer's experiments involve studying how people's thinking and choices can physically change them. In …

Jane Piirto on Creativity

Jane Piirto is an educator, author of poetry and novels, and a photographer. She has made creativity the focus of her research studies and her life's work. Much of her research has been with talented young people where she has sought to find out what exactly sparks some people to great heights of achievement and innovation. …