Books

Emily Midorikawa’s new book, Out of the Shadows: Six Visionary Victorian Women in Search of a Public Voice, is published by Counterpoint Press.

Drawing on diaries, letters, rarely seen memoirs and texts, Out of the Shadows tells the stories of Kate, Leah and Maggie Fox, Emma Hardinge Britten, Victoria Woodhull and Georgina Weldon: six enterprising women of the nineteenth century, whose apparent ability to contact the dead brought them fame, fortune and astonishing levels of social and political influence.

Praise for Out of the Shadows:

‘This is the great strength of Out of the Shadows; it offers up a tapestry of complex characters with conflicted motivations, woven together with the color of ghostly apparitions (and angry mobs) … Out of the Shadows pivots between the women’s extraordinary savvy, intelligence and performance and the frequently unethical and exploitative means they adopted to achieve their ends.’ – Brandy Schillace, Wall Street Journal

‘Midorikawa’s chosen Spiritualists are a colorful bunch, and her lively writing makes their careers fun to follow.’ – Christine Leigh Heyrman, New York Times

‘Fortunately, Midorikawa provides prints of portraits and several other illustrations, or, despite all her research, who would believe that such women existed in Victorian times? Their lives told more about the future than they could possibly have foreseen.’ – Jacqueline Banerjee, Times Literary Supplement

‘Midorikawa has assembled and analyzed an impressive range and variety of sources in building her biographies, but also in delineating the social, scientific and political changes that formed their backdrop … Overall … this is a thrilling read, striking inter alia for the nonchalance with which these female Victorian visionaries took on the rigours of transatlantic travel, and for the incidental intertwining of their remarkable lives.’ – Jane Haile, New York Journal of Books

‘Midorikawa doesn’t stint on the drama, detailing money troubles, sisterly discord, poor marital choices, and fraud accusations as she builds a persuasive case for the Spiritualist movement’s considerable influence on “the journey toward female empowerment.” Women’s history buffs will be enthralled.’ – Publishers Weekly

‘Midorikawa breathes life into these long-ago women in ways that make them feel contemporary despite their extraordinary circumstances and distance in time … By the book’s end, it no longer matters whether you believe these six remarkable spirit mediums were hoaxes or not; you’ll certainly believe in them.’ – Anna Spydell, BookPage (starred review)

‘Drawing on archival material and contemporary accounts of the women’s personal and professional entanglements, Midorikawa briskly recounts their eventful lives, accomplishing the goal inherent in the book’s title. A well-researched, fresh contribution to women’s history.’ – Kirkus

‘Midorikawa presents the stories of six female spiritualists and the incredible impact that they had on society and politics . . . The author does an excellent job of characterizing the social milieu and constraints that these women were subject to . . . This well-researched book offers insight into a unique niche of women’s history, and would be a worthy addition to most libraries.’ —Booklist

‘Brisk and entertaining, this biography should draw the attention of readers interested in the social effects of the Spiritualist movement, or in 19th-century women’s history.’ – Library Journal

‘If you’ve been bored or frustrated by superficial groupings of women described as “badass,” “daring,” or “fearless,” only to discover the text is basically linked Wikipedia articles, congratulations, you found what you were looking for all along: an actual scholar who quotes salacious diary entries and intimate letters alongside essential context and cutting analysis. I’m now an Emily Midorikawa completest, and I’m quite certain you’ll soon be, too.’ – Alexis Coe, New York Times bestselling author of You Never Forget Your First

‘Astonishing, gripping, and almost eerily timely. Midorikawa’s tender, elegant prose is a joy to read and her fascination with her subjects irresistible.’ – Julie Myerson, author of The Stopped Heart

‘From Wall Street to presidential campaigns, from the courtroom to the stage, these women captivated their audiences and made serious claims about society in the process. Midorikawa tells their stories with sensitivity and grace, moving between the personal, the political, and the phantasmagoric with a sure step and a keen eye for detail.’ – Mo Moulton, author of The Mutual Admiration Society

‘Emily Midorikawa’s account of six women who were adept at working psychic miracles offers a fascinating new view of fame, belief, and feminism.’ – Laura Shapiro, author of What She Ate

‘This book is a treasure–a little known history about forgotten movers and shakers, women who influenced our country in unimaginable, and unseen (to say the least) ways. Reader: you need this book!’ – Mira Ptacin, author of The In-Betweens

‘I was captivated by Midorikawa’s vivid portraits of Victorian-era women who used their Spiritualism to rise from obscurity and poverty to astonishing, often dizzying, social and political influence. Meticulously researched, engrossing, poignant and often very humorous, Out of the Shadows does a huge service to feminist history.’ – Susan Barker, author of The Incarnations

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontё, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf (co-written with Emma Claire Sweeney and with a foreword by Margaret Atwood), was published by Aurum Press in the UK and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the USA in 2017.

A Secret Sisterhood resurrects the stories of the important friendships and literary collaborations between Austen and amateur playwright Anne Sharp; Brontё and feminist author Mary Taylor; Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe, with whom she shared a celebrity status; and Woolf and fellow Modernist Katherine Mansfield.

Praise for A Secret Sisterhood:

‘Midorikawa and Sweeney have committed an exceptional act of literary espionage. English literature owes them a great debt.’ – Financial Times

‘[A] medley of vivid narratives’ – The Atlantic

‘Glorious insights into female rivalry and female solidarity and the delicate balancing act required to ensure one doesn’t override the other’ – The Herald (Glasgow)

‘[An] evocative and well-researched ode to female solidarity.’ – Publishers Weekly

‘Rich and revealing … these forgotten friendships, from illicit and scandalous to radical and inspiring, are revelations.’ – Kirkus

‘Important, illuminating and greatly enjoyable’ – The Telegraph (India)

‘As friends, fellow teachers and kindred scholars, [Midorikawa and Sweeney] carry the torch of feminist cultural criticism. Meticulous researchers, they leave no manuscript unturned.’ – New York Journal of Books

‘Extraordinary detective work … Readers interested in women writers and these authors in particular will find this work enlightening.’ – Library Journal

‘Enthralling, illuminating, and a treat for fans of any of the writers who are covered.’ – Booklist

‘A thought-provoking meditation on literary friendship… engagingly intimate glimpses of four of the world’s finest writers’ – San Francisco Chronicle

‘In digging up the forgotten friendships chronicled in A Secret Sisterhood, Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney have done much service to literary history.’ – Margaret Atwood, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Handmaid’s Tale

A Secret Sisterhood offers a clever new perspective on established literary figures. While we may inherit family and circumstances, we get to choose our friends; and those these famous women writers have chosen reveal much that is fresh and fascinating about their lives and their work.’ – Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring

A Secret Sisterhood is a marvel. On the strength of a hunch, two friends embark on a research mission that winds up becoming a vital and necessary contribution to women’s history, literary history, and the literature of friendship. Beautifully written, rich with insight and feeling, this book is a must-read for anyone who knows that behind every great woman stands a great female friend.’ – Kate Bolick, New York Times bestselling author of Spinster

‘Genuine scholarship that reads like a detective novel … My nonfiction book of the year.’ – Amanda Craig, author of The Golden Rule

A Secret Sisterhood … helps to redress the marginalisation of serious non-fiction by and about women.’ – Karen Maitland, author of Company of Liars

‘Such an important, neglected topic: friendships between women writers and their influence on one another. It has long been downplayed – at last Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney are challenging this, with many fascinating revelations.’ – Jill Dawson, author of The Crime Writer

A Secret Sisterhood will help make women’s literary friendships of the past relevant to the present.’ – Michèle Roberts, author of Daughters of the House

‘Wise and exhilarating’ – Samantha Ellis, author of How to Be a Heroine

‘Brilliantly researched and eminently accessible’ – Emma Henderson, author of Grace Williams Says it Loud