International Women’s Day for Writers

Why do we need a day to celebrate and recognize women's accomplishments? All I have to do is look through the floor to ceiling bookcases in my office to know why. Most of the books are by men. Most of the history books are by men. Most of the textbooks are by men. Most of …

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Susan Weidener: A Christmas Wish for Every Writer

"My Christmas wish for every writer: Give each other the gift of one nod or word of encouragement . . .  find someone who believes  . . . even if that person is you."   Susan G. Weidener Former Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Susan G. Weidener runs the Women's Writing Circle. She is the author of …

Faye Kellerman on Cranky Because of PMS

Faye Kellerman is a best-selling writer of novels of mystery and suspense. Born in 1952 she has written over thirty novels. Trained as a mathematician and a dentist she choose instead to write, propelled she says, by "a desire for justice, a suspicious nature, an overactive imagination, and, of course, a penchant for the bizarre. " Her …

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

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 half of the 1800s and the early 1900s. Married to a man who was an opium …

Isabel Allende on the End of Childhood

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 The House of Spirits, Chilean author Isabel Allende takes us into that magical time. Clara's …

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 …

Sarah Josepha Hale on Beginning a Novel

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 girls  (She later helped establish Vassar College) having obtained her education second-hand from her brother …

Elizabeth Ellet on Women of the American Revolution

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 was a prolific writer who, in addition to translations, poetry, country rambles, and domestic works, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …