Saturday, 17 June 2017

A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Bronte, Eliot and Woolf by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney



About A Secret Sisterhood

In their first book together, Midorikawa and Sweeney resurrect four literary collaborations, which were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.

Drawing on letters and diaries, some of which have never been published before, and new documents uncovered during the authors’ research, the creative connections explored here reveal: Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

A Secret Sisterhood uncovers the hidden literary friendships of the world’s most respected female authors.


My review of A Secret Sisterhood





A Secret Sisterhood was an absolute treat to read. I must just mention the stunning cover, which for me, sums up the beauty of this book. A Secret Sisterhood eloquently and succinctly describes in much detail, four female literary collaborations: those of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. I was absolutely staggered at the sheer amount of research that was undertaken in order to write this book. It is packed with so much information, hidden gems and beautiful descriptions of female solidarity from long, long ago.

This book is a treasure trove of hidden secrets. Very little is known about the friendships that these women had with other women writers, as during their lifetimes their achievements and literary accomplishments were very much downplayed, with male writers receiving much of the recognition. Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney have created a book that highlights these achievements, the strength of women, and how women seek and give strength to other women in the writing profession. This is very much in evidence today, so it is so very refreshing to find that our female literally heroines were doing the very same.

We learn about these much loved writers' private lives and their close friendships, that were often seen as scandalous, from the information that has been painstakingly gathered from lost letters and diaries. In doing so, what happened in the past is made incredibly relevant for today's audience. These women writers had such a close support system. We learn that feminism is not such a new concept, as these women were feminists well before the term was even used.

This is such an uplifting book and one that I enjoyed immensely. If you love to read novels by these four literary heroines,  and are interested in literary history, then this book will really appeal to you. In fact, for anyone interested in literature, or for those who just fancy an absorbing non-fiction read, then you really will enjoy this wonderful treat of a book.

With thanks to the publisher who sent me a hardback copy for review purposes.

A Secret Sisterhood, published by Aurum Press on 1 June can be found on Amazon here.









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