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Louisa May Alcott, stealth novelist of the blood and thunder genre

Louisa May Alcott lived a double-literary life. The world knew her as Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women and other widely popular and deeply-loved books that have been read by children for generations. These she called “moral pap” and said she wrote them only for the money. An extremely small circle of people knew […]

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A writer who didn’t want to be edited, the ‘real’ Moriarty, and your good words: newsletter, Nov. 23, 2018

  Thanks for the many emails about the words that we use and the ones we don’t hear enough. This week’s word, of course, is gratitude, in line with the Thanksgiving holiday that Americans have celebrated this week. All of us have much to be thankful for. I do my best to remind myself of that […]

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Fanny Burney: paving the way for Jane Austen and the Brontes

Before there was Jane Austen, before there was George Eliot, before there were Charlotte and Emily Bronte — before even women were supposed to be able to write in this new developing form called a novel — there was Fanny Burney (1752-1840). Burney, daughter of Dr. Charles Burney, a well-known scholar and music teacher of the second half […]

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All About Agatha – the podcast where Agatha Christie is first, last, and always

All About Agatha (Christie)Pro Unlimited Agatha Christie The Agatha Christie fans out there — and they are legion — will want to join in on this weekly podcast, All About Agatha, that is devoted exclusively to the author whose popularity remains undiminished even 40 years after her death. The podcast features Linda Brobeck and Kemper […]

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Frances Hodgson Burnett, a rock-star writer of the 19th and early 20th century

Frances Hodgson Burnett, another of The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy, wrote prolifically and made a ton of money doing it. She traveled extensively, lived peripatetically, spent extravagantly, and maintained a lavish lifestyle that most of us could only imagine. During her 30 years atop the world’s literary stage, she was one of the world’s […]

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The Guardian’s reading group book for June: Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier

The Guardian’s online reading group is exploring Rebecca West’s first novel, The Return of the Soldier, published in 1918. The Return of the Soldier: an incendiary, formidable debut | Books | The Guardian The book was a ground-breaking work, according to Sam Jordison, the group’s director: On the way to (an) unsettling conclusion, West packs […]

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Louisa May Alcott, journalist

Louisa May Alcott, author of the classic of American literature Little Women, was for a brief time in her life Louisa May Alcott, journalist. Despite the picture presented in her famous novel, Alcott’s childhood and formative years were anything but idyllic. Her family was always on the edge of poverty, and her father, Bronson Alcott, […]

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A new biography of Agatha Christie 

Despite her worldwide fame and gigantic audiences, her life was as mysterious as one of her books. Now a new biography is available to American readers (it has been available to British readers for a while), and the book is getting rave reviews.

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Jean Ritchie and the dulcimer revival — and much more; your pet peeves about English

This newsletter was sent to those on Jim’s email list (4,189) on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. Hi, Last week’s entry about America’s first published poet, Anne Bradstreet, brought this from one of our newsletter readers, Robin K., who has done a good bit of genealogical research on her family: I thought that name looked familiar – I’m […]

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Jean Ritchie: 60-plus years of contributions to American music and culture

If you play the dulcimer, you owe Jean Ritchie a debt of thanks. If you have heard a dulcimer, seen one — or even know what one is, Jean Ritchie is the person responsible. Ritchie died in 2015 at the age of 92 (her birthday is Dec. 8, 1922), and she is known to many […]

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The Puritan woman who was America’s first published poet; another true crime podcast recommendation; expensive misspellings

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,228) on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. Hi,  In America, we have just celebrated Thanksgiving Day with a big meal, maybe a football game or a nap, and (I hope) a thankful thought or two. I am, of course, thankful for all you readers to this newsletter. It’s […]

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Anne Bradstreet, Puritan wife and mother and America’s first published poet

Nay Masculines, you have thus taxt us long, But she, though dead, will vindicate our wrong, Let such as say our Sex is void of Reason, Know ‘tis a Slander now, but once was Treason. Those lines, written in Massachusetts Bay colony before 1650 and referring to Queen Elizabeth I, are a gentle but firm response […]

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