Male literary friendships are the stuff of legend, but what about the friendships of women writers?A Secret Sisterhood, drawing on letters and diaries, some never published before, brings to light a wealth of surprising female collaborations: the friendship between Jane Austen and one of the family servants, amateur playwright Anne Sharp; the daring feminist author Mary Taylor, who shaped the work of Charlotte Brontë; the transatlantic friendship of the seemingly aloof George Eliot and the ebullient Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, most often portrayed as bitter foes,but who, in fact, enjoyed a complex friendship. They were sometimes scandalous and volatile, sometimes supportive and inspiring, but always—until now—tantalizingly consigned to the shadows.
About the authors
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.
Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.
“Enthralling, illuminating, and a treat for fans of any of the writers who are covered.” —Booklist, starred review
“Rich and revealing . . . these forgotten friendships, from illicit and scandalous to radical and inspiring, are revelations.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[An] evocative and well-researched ode to female solidarity.” —Publishers Weekly
“Extraordinary detective work...fascinating...readers interested in women writers and these authors in particular will find this work enlightening.” —Library Journal
“Now thatA Secret Sisterhoodis in print it will be even more difficult than ever before for critics and biographers, male or female, to dismiss, ignore or bury the friendships that literary women have enjoyed. And that’s worth cheering!” —New York Journal of Books
“A Secret Sisterhoodis 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, author ofSpinster: Making a Life of One’s Own
“In this wise and exhilarating book, Midorikawa and Sweeney, literary friends themselves, delve into the friendships of women writers, learning lessons along the way about making art, making and keeping friends, and the perils and pleasures of literary life.”
—Samantha Ellis,author ofHow to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much
“A Secret Sisterhoodoffers 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 ofGirl with a Pearl Earringand editor ofReader, I Married Him
“In digging up the forgotten friendships chronicled inA Secret Sisterhood, Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney have done much service to literary history . . . These four women, however iconic they have now become, were not two-dimensional icons, nor were they plaster angels: they were real people, with all the neediness, anxiety, ardor, and complexity that come with the territory.”
—Margaret Atwood, from the foreword
Other titles by Margaret Atwood
This Time, That Place
We Are Still Here
Afghan Women on Courage, Freedom, and the Fight to Be Heard
Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004-2021
The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments Box Set
Gentleman Death / Perpetual Motion
Penguin Modern Classics Edition
2021 Women Who Rock Our World Wall Calendar
A Father & Son Discuss God, the Bible and Life