Coming Soon! – A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Brontё, Eliot and Woolf

It’s been ages since I posted anything here and so I thought I really ought to remedy this.

Emma Claire Sweeney and I have spent the greatest part of the past few months, working away on our co-authored book. Most frequently, we’ve been hunched over our desks in our own studies or at Senate House Library, but we also spent an enjoyable – if chilly – week in January on a Bread Matters Cultural Foundation residency near Lisbon.

This was, in fact, the same place that we’d taken ourselves off to when we were first planning our, then unnamed, website about female literary friendship, which we’ve been running for the past three years. So it seemed especially fitting to return here in early 2017, when we were in the final stages of editing our book on the literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontё, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf.

Proofs for A Secret Sisterhood. Looking forward to seeing the real copies…

At last, the UK edition of A Secret Sisterhood has gone off to the printers and the US version will not be far behind. The UK edition is available for pre-order here, the US one here.

Unlike the posts we write on Something Rhymed, necessarily limited to a few hundred words, each section of A Secret Sisterhood delves in far greater detail into one of the book’s four main literary friendships. We’re both looking forward to hearing what readers think of the stories we’ll be sharing of Jane Austen and the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; Charlotte Brontё and the feminist author Mary Taylor; literary legends George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the combative, yet affectionate, friendship of Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf.

Another thing I’m eagerly anticipating is the prospect of doing more events with Emma. The last talk we gave at City, University of London – with Something Rhymed guest bloggers Susan Barker, Ann Morgan and Denise Saul – feels a very long time ago now, and so Emma and I are glad to be in the process of organising many more literary friendship-themed sessions. One of these will be the 46th annual lecture for the George Eliot Fellowship, at which we’ll be the keynote speakers. We’ll be focusing on Eliot’s transatlantic literary friendship with Stowe – surprisingly little known today despite its historical importance.

The lecture takes place at 2.30 pm on Saturday 16 September. Tickets can be purchased here.

Something Rhymed literary salons

Thanks to a generous grant from Arts Council England, Emma Claire Sweeney and I have been able to organise a series of literary salons at NYU London.  These events will bring together writers and literary professionals, to discuss the problem of gender equality in the literary world and come up with positive solutions.

Something Rhymed Salon flyer

For more details about the salons, please click here. We look forward to seeing you there.

Something Rhymed Salon flyer p2

‘A Secret Sisterhood’ talk at NYU London

 Pens 2 new

 

Emma Claire Sweeney and I will be giving a talk at NYU London tomorrow (3rd December).

‘A Secret Sisterhood’ will focus on our research into female literary friendship, in particular the friendships of George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf.

We’ll let our Something Rhymed readers know how it went in an upcoming blog post, and you can find out more about these relationships, and many others, by visiting Something Rhymed.

‘Working With Writing: the art of collaboration’ at City University

There are still a few places left for Working With Writing: the art of collaboration at City University London this Thursday.

The event, chaired by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, will feature author Heidi James and her editor Hetha Duffy of Bluemoose Books, as well as Emma Claire Sweeney and me.

Emma Claire and I will be talking about our jointly-run website Something Rhymed, and our research into historical literary collaborations between some of the world’s most famous female writers.

If you can make it, we’d love to see you there:

Citylogo

Thursday 23 April 2015 at 6.30pm
Performance Space, College Building, St John Street, London, EC1V 4PB
£10, including a glass of wine or soft drink.

 

Article for Hippo Reads and event at the Ilkley Literature Festival

Last night, Emma Claire Sweeney and I met up at the Southbank Centre for the pre-award celebration for this year’s SI Leeds Literary Prize. As a former runner-up, I really wanted to go along to support the 2014 shortlistees – not least because of the help Emma Claire and I have received from three of them.

Season Butler, Reshma Ruia and Kit de Waal were all kind enough to answer some interview questions about their friendships, as was prize advocate Irenosen Okojie. We’ll be featuring a new creative piece inspired by their answers during our talk at the Ilkley Literature Festival next week. This is a free event and we’d love to see you there.

 

SOMETHING RHYMED

~ the literary friendships of famous female authors

Ilkley Playhouse Wildman

Wednesday 15th October

9.15-10.15 pm

 

 

For a taster of the sort of thing we’ll be discussing, you can also read our article for Hippo Reads, which went live on their website yesterday.

Workshop at the National Portrait Gallery

I was in Liverpool on Wednesday evening for the Writing on the Wall festival’s ‘Top Girl’ event, in conversation with Helen Walsh and the Women’s Organisation.

My next event is part of a collaboration between City University London and the National Portrait Gallery. ‘The Blank Page’ writers’ workshop, in association with Anxiety Arts festival, takes place at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday 12 June.

The practical session will use visual prompts to explore ways of creating believable characters on paper. It’ll be suitable for participants of all abilities and levels of experience, and I hope to see you there.

Time: 18:30-20:30

Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

For more information and to book your place, please click here.

Writing on the Wall festival, the Yorkshire Post and more on Something Rhymed

I’m delighted to announce that I will be reading an extract of my as-yet-unpublished first novel A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing at the Writing on the Wall festival in Liverpool on Wednesday 14 May.

As a former third prize winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize, I’ll be taking part in an event at Siren Café headlined by Helen Walsh, author of gripping new novel The Lemon Grove. My book A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing also won third prize in the Yeovil Literary Prize and was long-listed for the Mslexia Novel Competition.

Me reading my work at the SI Leeds Literary Prize ceremony
Me reading my work at the SI Leeds Literary Prize ceremony

In other writing news, the Yorkshire Post recently featured an article on Something Rhymed, the literary website I run with Emma Claire Sweeney. Throughout 2014, Emma Claire and I are profiling the writing friendships of well-known female authors, and this month we’re turning the spotlight on Emily Dickinson and Helen Hunt Jackson.

We’re still actively looking for more literary pals to consider for the site, so please keep letting us know your thoughts by Tweeting us, or contacting us via somethingrhymed.com.

A good week: third place in Yeovil Literary Prize and launch of the Tangled Roots project

Having had to keep it quiet until now, it’s good to be able to start letting people know that my novel A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing has taken third place in the Yeovil Literary Prize, judged by Tracy Chevalier.

I’ve long been an admirer of Chevalier’s prose and her writerly eye for detail, and so her kind comments about the book make the experience extra special. You can read her words about all the novel prize winners, and find out more about the prize, here.

Another pleasure this week was being able to attend the launch night of Tangled Roots, a project documenting the experiences of multi-racial families from Yorkshire. I’ve blogged about it before here. There are currently seven writers involved with the project, set up by Katy Massey, and photos of six of us will be displayed at Seven in Leeds until the middle of October.

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, you can view the images, taken by photographer Anthony Farrimond, on the Tangled Roots website. There’s lots more information about the project there too.

NAWE conference talk: The Writing Friendship

Having had such an enjoyable time at last year’s NAWE conference, I was really happy to take part in another panel discussion there this year. This time,  Emma Claire Sweeney and I  gave a presentation on the subject of friendships between writers along with two other “writing friends”, Emily Pedder and Monique Roffey.

Some people might remember that Emily and Monique were two of the writers we interviewed for our feature in The Times

Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

back in May. Taking the newspaper article as a starting point, we used our session at the conference to ask Monique and Emily some questions inspired by what they’d told us the last time we met with them.

Emma and I were also able to delve a little further into the friendships of  some of the historical writers that our research for the article had centred on  – Brontë and Gaskell, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Mansfield and Woolf to name but a few – as well as discussing practical tips with our audience of modern day writers for ways of sustaining a successful writing friendship through the good as well as the rockier times.

Having been friends with Emma for well over a decade now, I feel extremely lucky to have someone who’s been with me through my writing years. As we shared with the group at the conference, there have been ups and downs in the trajectories of our careers, disappointments as well as triumphs, but something I really do appreciate is that Emma’s been there for the whole of this period and that she’s still usually the first person I turn to if I have a difficult decision to make or a knotty plot problem that I’m struggling to untangle.