It was our writing friendship that first sparked our interest in the creative bonds of our favourite female authors. Having blogged about this subject for the past two years on SomethingRhymed.com, we are delighted that Aurum Press and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have now given us the chance to write about these stories in greater depth and share them with a much wider audience.
Male literary friendships are the stuff of legend: think William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. But the world’s most famous female authors are usually mythologised as solitary eccentrics or isolated geniuses.
However, through our work on SomethingRhymed.com and the incredible tip-offs we’ve received from our readers, we have uncovered a wealth of hidden yet startling female collaborations.
A Secret Sisterhood looks at the friendships between Jane Austen and one of the family servants, playwright Anne Sharp; the daring feminist author Mary Taylor, who shaped the work of Charlotte Brontë; the seemingly aloof George Eliot and the controversial American author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, most often portrayed as bitter foes, but who in fact enjoyed a complex friendship fired by an underlying erotic charge.
Drawing on letters and diaries, many of which have never been published before, the book will resurrect these hitherto forgotten stories of female friendships that were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.
A Secret Sisterhood will be published in the UK and the USA in autumn 2017 to coincide with the Jane Austen bicentenary celebrations.