Biographies of female writers

The stories of the lives of women writers, told by other writers
biographies women lives-of-women women-writers womens-writing
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Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?

by Marion Meade

About the book:  Marion Meade's engrossing and comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth century's most captivating womenIn this lively, absorbing biography, Marion Meade illuminates both the charm and the dark side of Dorothy Parker, exploring her days of wicked wittiness at the Algonquin Round Table with the likes of Robert Benchley, George Kaufman, and Harold Ross, and in Hollywood with S. J. Perelman, William Faulkner, and Lillian Hellman. At the dazzling center of it all, Meade gives us the flamboyant, self-destructive, and brilliant Dorothy Parker.This edition features a new afterword by Marion Meade.


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Sylvia Plath: A Biography

by Linda Wagner-Martin

About the book:  The first biography of Sylvia Plath to draw on unpublished journals and letters, Sylvia Plath provides a detailed, objective, and illuminating portrait of this talented and tortured woman who is widely recognized as one of America's foremost poets of the 20th century. 20 pages of photos. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Rebecca West: A Life

by Victoria Glendinning

About the book:  Celebrated novelist, acerbic critic, and journalist without peer, friend and lover of the great and gifted, social and sexual rebel, observer of modern history's turning points, Rebecca West led one of the great lives of the twentieth century. In this first full-scale biography of Rebecca West, the widely admired biographer Victoria Glendinning captures that life in all its disturbing brilliance and haunting pain.


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Anne Sexton: A Biography

by Diane Middlebrook

About the book:  Anne Sexton began writing poetry at the age of twenty-nine to keep from killing herself. She held on to language for dear life and somehow -- in spite of alcoholism and the mental illness that ultimately led her to suicide -- managed to create a body of work that won a Pulitzer Prize and that still sings to thousands of readers. This exemplary biography, which was nominated for the National Book Award, provoked controversy for its revelations of infidelity and incest and its use of tapes from Sexton's psychiatric sessions. It reconciles the many Anne Sextons: the 1950s housewife; the abused child who became an abusive mother; the seductress; the suicide who carried "kill-me pills" in her handbag the way other women carry lipstick; and the poet who transmuted confession into lasting art.


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Mary Shelley

by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

About the book:  A New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a Washington Post Best Book of 2001, Mary Shelley has been called "a harrowing life, wonderfully retold" (The Washington Post). This "splendid biography" (The New Yorker) gracefully moves through the dramatic life of the woman behind history's most legendary monster. A daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of the daring A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and the radical philosopher William Godwin, Mary Shelley grew up amid the literary and political avant-garde of early-nineteenth-century London. She escaped to Europe at seventeen with the married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, causing a great scandal. On a famous night of eerie thunderstorms, in a villa near Lord Byron's on Lake Geneva, they told ghost stories and tales of horror, giving birth to the idea of Frankenstein, a monster who has haunted imaginations for nearly two hundred years. The Mary we meet here, brilliantly brought to life by Seymour from previously unexplored sources, is brave, generous, and impetuous. Struck by tragedy, she lost three of her four children, and when she was only twenty-four, Shelley drowned off the coast of Italy. As Henry Carrigan of Library Journal said, this is "one of the finest and most significant literary biographies of recent years." "Miranda Seymour's biography of Mary Shelley provides a thoughtfully considered, lifelike portrait of a complex, often misunderstood character." -- Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times "[Miranda Seymour] has vivid narrative gifts and a perceptive understanding of the main personalities." -- Claude Rawson, The New York Times Book Review "Mary Shelley is the most dazzling biography of a female writer to have come my way for a decade." -- Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times


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Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

by Nancy Milford

About the book:  Thomas Hardy once said that America had two great attractions: the skyscraper and the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. The most famous poet of the Jazz Age, Millay captivated the nation: She smoked in public, took many lovers (men and women, single and married), flouted convention sensationally, and became the embodiment of the New Woman.Thirty years after her landmark biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, Nancy Milford returns with an iconic portrait of this passionate, fearless woman who obsessed America even as she tormented herself. Chosen by USA Today as one of the top ten books of the year, Savage Beauty is a triumph in the art of biography. Millay was an American original—one of those rare characters, like Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway, whose lives were even more dramatic than their art.


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Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston (Lisa Drew Books (Paperback))

by Valerie Boyd

About the book:  From critically acclaimed journalist Valerie Boyd comes an eloquent profile of one of the most intriguing cultural figures of the twentieth century—Zora Neale Hurston.A woman of enormous talent and remarkable drive, Zora Neale Hurston published seven books, many short stories, and several articles and plays over a career that spanned more than thirty years. Today, nearly every black woman writer of significance—including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker—acknowledges Hurston as a literary foremother, and her 1937 masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God has become a crucial part of the modern literary canon. Wrapped in Rainbows, the first biography of Zora Neale Hurston in more than twenty-five years, illuminates the adventures, complexities, and sorrows of an extraordinary life. Acclaimed journalist Valerie Boyd delves into Hurston’s history—her youth in the country’s first incorporated all-black town, her friendships with luminaries such as Langston Hughes, her sexuality and short-lived marriages, and her mysterious relationship with vodou. With the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression, and World War II as historical backdrops, Wrapped in Rainbows not only positions Hurston’s work in her time but also offers riveting implications for our own.


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The Bronte Myth

by Lucasta Miller

About the book:  In a brilliant combination of biography, literary criticism, and history, The Bronté Myth shows how Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronté became cultural icons whose ever-changing reputations reflected the obsessions of various eras.When literary London learned that Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights had been written by young rural spinsters, the Brontés instantly became as famous as their shockingly passionate books. Soon after their deaths, their first biographer spun the sisters into a picturesque myth of family tragedies and Yorkshire moors. Ever since, these enigmatic figures have tempted generations of readers–Victorian, Freudian, feminist–to reinterpret them, casting them as everything from domestic saints to sex-starved hysterics. In her bewitching “metabiography,” Lucasta Miller follows the twists and turns of the phenomenon of Bront-mania and rescues these three fiercely original geniuses from the distortions of legend.


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Alice Walker: A Life

by Evelyn C. White

About the book:  "The rich, complex story White tells . . . is never less than fascinating." ―New York Times Book Review Alice Walker's life is remarkable not only because she was the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction (the book that won her that award, The Color Purple, has been translated into nearly thirty languages and made into an Academy Award–nominated film), but also because these accomplishments are merely highlights of a luminous and varied career made from inauspicious beginnings in rural Georgia. Drawing on extensive interviews and exhaustive research, Evelyn C. White brings this life to light. 16 pages of illustrations


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The Blue Hour: A Life of Jean Rhys

by Lilian Pizzichini

About the book:  A groundbreaking biography of a psychologically traumatized novelist who forever changed the way we look at women in fiction.Jean Rhys (1890–1979) is best known for her 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea. A prequel to Jane Eyre, Rhys’s revolutionary work reimagined the story of Bertha Rochester—the misunderstood “madwoman in the attic” who was driven to insanity by cruelties beyond her control. The Blue Hour performs a similar exhumation of Rhys’s life, which was haunted by demons from within and without. Its examination of Rhys’s pain and loss charts her desperate journey from the jungles of Dominica to a British boarding school, and then into an adult life scarred by three failed marriages, the deaths of her two children, and her long battle with alcoholism. A mesmerizing evocation of a fragile and brilliant mind, The Blue Hour explores the crucial element that ultimately spared Rhys from the fate of her most famous protagonist: a genius that rescued her, again and again, from the abyss. 20 photos


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