A Secret Sisterhood – out in paperback today

I’m so happy to announce that A Secret Sisterhood: The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontё, Eliot and Woolf is out in paperback today. My friend and co-author, Emma Claire Sweeney, and I are having a blog tour to celebrate, and there’s a post about this on our joint website, Something Rhymed.

In this post, we also talk about some planned changes we have coming up on Something Rhymed, which include opportunities for those who’d like to write a piece or two for the website or to help out with editorial or admin. Do take a look if you are interested.

A Secret Sisterhood is out today in the USA

I’m delighted to announce that my book A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf (with a foreword by Margaret Atwood, and co-written with Emma Claire Sweeney) is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt today.

To mark the occasion, Emma and I feel honoured to have a piece about the rivalrous friendship of Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf in the Paris Review. If you are interested in finding out more about this, and the other friendships we celebrate in our book, today’s blog post on Something Rhymed, the literary blog I run with Emma, takes a look back at some of our recent reviews and articles.

After knowing Emma for well over a decade-and-a-half, it is wonderful to have chance to celebrate this milestone in our own writing friendship.

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.

‘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.

 

Something Rhymed… a continuing story

When Emma Claire Sweeney and I launched Something Rhymed at the start of 2014, we were clear about one thing: it would be a year-long project.

The plan was relatively simple. For twelve months, we’d profile the literary friendships of a dozen pairs of famous female authors and challenge ourselves to complete monthly activities based on an aspect of each of these alliances.

During 2014, we’ve publically recalled our first impressions of each other; thrown a party together; composed long handwritten letters; even spent a day dressed in each other’s clothes…

The clothes-swap challenge: me dressed in Emma Claire's dress
The clothes-swap challenge: me, on holiday, in Emma Claire’s dress.
And Emma, at her book club, wearing my top.
And Emma Claire, at her book club, wearing my top.

Our project has developed in unexpected ways, giving us opportunities to collaborate with other writers and organisations.

Shortly after setting up Something Rhymed, we gave our first joint podcast interview. We’ve appeared together at the Ilkey Literature Festival and written articles for a variety of publications, including Women Writers, Women[’s] Books and the Independent on Sunday. On our own website, we’ve featured interviews and guest blogs with contemporary female writers we admire – most recently, Diana Athill.

When this time last January, we announced our intentions to set up Something Rhymed, several well-wishers expressed concern that we wouldn’t be able to find enough female literary pairs to complete our year-long task. But, as Emma Claire mentioned in a recent post, thanks to our close-knit community of readers from around the globe, the reverse has turned out to be true. Suggestions via Twitter or through our website have helped us to unearth many more collaborations than we could ever have envisaged twelve months ago.

And so, we’ve decided to keep sharing our findings at Something Rhymed into 2015, beginning this January with the extraordinary friendship of Mary Lamb and Dorothy Wordsworth.

We’d like to thank all our readers for their support and to wish them a Happy New Year.