Helen Keller on I Hesitate to Write

"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 the movie The Miracle Worker. Perhaps as a child you read a book about the …

Barbara Kingsolver on Receiving Grace

Barbara Kingsolver has written numerous books and won many awards. She is the founder of the PEN/Bellwether Award for socially conscious fiction. Her most recent work is Flight Behavior, in which she combines her background in biology, her concern for social justice, and her experience living in rural Appalachia and raising sheep.  In a NPR interview Kingsolver …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

Ellen Dissanayake On The Art of Making Special

Ellen Dissanayake is a self-taught scholar in a field she invented who takes an anthropological, evolutionary approach to defining art. Her work in India, Sri Lanka, Africa and New Guinea made her realize that Western definitions of what is art were culturally confined. Instead she proposes that art is a universal, biological imperative that all human beings …

Clara Barton on Weaving with Flying Fingers

Clara Barton celebrates a birthday this week. She was born on Christmas Day 1821. She was the first woman appointed to government office at the same wage as a man, although her salary was later reduced, and then the job eliminated altogether. During the Civil War she procured food and medicine and carried it to the front …

Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Babies

November 12th is Elizabeth Cady Stanton's birthday. Stanton has gone down in history as a tireless fighter for women's rights who spoke her mind and would not be cowed. She was also a tender and loving mother who didn't tolerate nonsense concerning child-rearing. The following excerpt relates her experiences caring for her first-born. …I had …

Rose Winslow on Hungry for the Vote

"God knows we don’t want other women ever to have to do this over again.” Rose Winslow  was brought as a baby to the United States by her Polish parents so that she could grow up in a free democratic country.  Her father labored as a coal miner and steel worker and as a child …