Tag Archives: women

XYZ, Now I know my ABCs

OK, I’ve been trying to work out how to do X, which might explain why I’ve taken so long to post. The other reason for the posting delay is the decision I made to update my operating system. That always takes way more time than you think it will, then you have to get new muscle memory on where things are and which way to swipe and all that stuff. It is a process and a half.

Enough about operating systems and on to the matter at hand: concluding the alphabet.

X – I have no authors at all in my database under X. None. Zero. Zilch. There aren’t even a whole lot of words beginning with X. The Constant Reader may here remind me of xylophones, but I’ve little to say about xylophones. Do YOU know any X-authors? Do let me know if you have encountered any. I’m curious.

Y, I’ve got no problem with Y, so on we go to Y, the problem-free letter, the letter with an embarrassment of riches, where I have to choose between two worthy women authors. Wait. I don’t have to chose, I’ll have one of the Y-authors stand in for the lack of an X author. Yes. Sometimes I’m brilliant. (Also humble. And, I hope you realize, not very serious.)

Yfloralis for Yonge, Charlotte M. Yonge, author of The Heir of Redcliffe. I read The Heir of Redcliffe because someone recommended it to me. It was the first of the nineteenth-century women writers on specifically religious subjects that I read. This was, however, before I began my research on 19th-century women who interpreted the Bible. Yonge is one of those women, but I read this book before all that really started. Also, after I read Yonge, I re-read Little Women, and behold! Jo reads The Heir of Redcliffe in Little Women! Literary referencing in the nineteenth century! Excitement! Connections! Hurrah! I like connections. You should read The Heir of Redcliffe for insight into the century. I should revisit it as I’m sure I will understand it differently now.

Y is also for Yust, Karen Marie Yust, author of Taught By God, a book that does a great job helping people think through how the history of Christian education can inform current practice. I sort of fan-girled Dr. Yust at a Large Academic Conference last November. I think she was startled to have me rush up and enthuse about TBG. Oh well. I do like it. You should read it.

And so to Z. I’ve one author, J. Peter Zane, in my database in the Z-section. J. Peter doesn’t make the cut for this blog post because he’s a guy. There are women whose surnames begin with Z, but I’ve not read them. Have you? Any recommendations?


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Tricky T

T is Tricky. There are almost too many choices for a T-woman author. I might have to go with two or three even. I’ve written about three nineteenth-century women who are T-authors! There we are, Three Ts from The Women.

Tcelticis for Trimmer, Tonna, and Tucker.

I wrote my dissertation on Sarah Trimmer. If you are interested and are connected with a university library, you can download the dissertation as a pdf from the UMich online dissertations website. Please excuse the egregious error of fact where I get Trimmer’s birthdate wrong in the first chapter. She was born 6 January. I think I have 20 January or some such thing. Ergh. Anyhow, Trimmer. She wrote lots of books in the late eighteenth century on teaching the Bible to children in various settings. She also wrote a story about talking birds called Fabulous Histories. She’s a big deal in my humble opinion. Of course I think she’s a big deal. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on her.

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna wrote using the name Charlotte Elizabeth. She was deaf. She lived in Canada for two years. She wrote books about women, the Irish, and the Bible. I’m still trying to parse her theology. She had an interesting life and was very opinionated. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote an introduction to an American edition of Tonna’s collected works, so she was widely read. Interesting, interesting, interesting.

Charlotte M. Tucker wrote under the pseudonym A Lady Of England (A.L.O.E.). She also visited Canada, including Niagara Falls. After her father’s death, she went out to India to live and do mission. Tucker also writes interesting books that teach the Bible to children.

Women! Writing on the Bible! Theology! History! Isn’t it exciting?


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What is a pirate’s favourite letter?

Arrrrr matey!

I hear you laughing. You know you want to laugh. C’mon, it’s funny. Except when you yell the question to 75 small girls in order to get their attention and they all yell back ARRRRRRRR and fall about laughing. Five or six times a day. For a week. Then it gets a tiny bit old.

But the letter

rletterin this context has nothing to do with pirates. It stands for Rimington, Stella Rimington, former spy, now spy novelist. I’ve written in this space about Rimington before. I could have written about Rendell or Rivers or Reichs or even Rowling for the letter R, but Rimington doesn’t get the press those other writers do, plus she writes in a genre that not many women have attempted — and with a female lead character as well. I think Rimington deserves some attention in this #readwomen2014 alphabet.

(There’s a chance that you haven’t yet read the Booker-Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. If not, take that as your R recommendation from me. Go find it now.)


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The letter I presents some difficulties

IcelticThe letter I presents me with some difficulties. Initially I began this alphabetical series without any restrictions on what letters could stand for. After a few days, I noticed I was picking authors by surname, and all the authors to that point were female. There is a #readwomen2014 thing going on around some book blogs, so I thought, hey, lets go with this. I’ll pick a woman whose last name begins with the letter of the day, who I’ve read, and who isn’t super well known. Then I’ll talk about her books and why I like them. Maybe this will help people read more women writers in 2014.

So far, this thought-up-on-the-fly plan has worked out. But, today I ran into a snag. I’ve only got two “I” authors in my books read database — and they are both men (John Irving and Kazuo Ishiguro if you were wondering). I went out into the interconnected world and looked at lists of “I” authors. There just aren’t that many. I could claim that I’m about to read Susan Isaacs — but I don’t own anything by Isaacs or any other I-author-who-is-female, but I decided to reveal what I’ve been up to in the series. Tomorrow we’ll continue with women writers alphabetically.

Do you have any female I-authors to recommend? Do tell.


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Making Connections

I like making connections. I make connections between ideas, between people, between books and people, between ideas and people, between lots of things. Making connections is one thing I think I’m reasonably good at. It is a difficult to describe skill in job-hunting though. Just saying.

Today I made a connection, not new to the world at large, but new to me. I am reading (slowly) The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (2nd Edition), edited by Margaret Drabble and Jenny Stringer. I’m in the ST- entries. I’m reading this reference work from A-Z because I do not have a degree in English Literature and so am trying to learn a little more than I would just by reading English Literature in itself. Also, it gives me ideas for old books to read. So, the connection made today was between Leslie Stephen, known to me as the editor of the original Dictionary of National Biography, a reference I often consult in my work with women who interpreted the Bible, and Virginia Woolf, 20th Century author of some renown. Stephen was Woolf’s father. This was remarked on incidentally in the entry Stephens, Leslie in the COCtEL. It is, however, the main point made about Stephen in the Wiki article on his life. (Aside: I tend to prefer the COCtEL approach, which gave Stephen his due for his own literary work, rather than just making him the parent of other people.) The Wiki article on Woolf makes a connection between Stephen’s work on the DNB and Woolf’s “experimental biographies.”

In reviewing the wiki articles to link to this paragraph, I’ve also made another connection in my own head. Woolf was the great-neice (through her mother) of Julia Margaret Cameron, a nineteenth-century photographer of some note, whose work I’ve examined with interest because of my research into 19th C women. A comparison of dates indicates that Woolf was born three years after Cameron died.

What do all these connections mean? It isn’t completely obvious to me what they mean, but now I have a sense of Virginia Woolf’s world that I did not have before. I have a sense of her family connections, a sense that a writer of genius did not appear in a vacuum, but came from a family with literary interests (she was a third generation published writer on her father’s side of the family), connected with women who did unconventional artistic things (through her mother). It means I may read her with more sympathy than I might have before. Had I read her before, that is. Maybe now I’ll try? She did write books before 1970, so maybe I’ll go there this year.

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Interesting Links

Here are a few interesting links to kick off the year.

  1. Reception History from a different angle. As you might have noticed if you hang out around here, I work in reception history of the Bible, particularly with women who interpret and write on the Bible. The linked article is more interested in reception and literature, but there is an overlap of interesting points that can be made. Susan Warner also wrote about the Bible. Most of her books on the Bible are Very Hard To Find. I like the phrase “selective tradition” mentioned in the article. It captures something about the history of biblical interpretation.
  2. Blasts from the Past, or books you forgot were published in the eighties.
  3. Reading in 2013 from many different people. I haven’t decided what my book of 2013 is quite yet. I’m working on it. I’ll let you know as soon as I know. I may have a few different titles for 2013. Things are still under consideration.

Happy Epiphany Eve!

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Thinking Ahead

This year I’ve had a couple of reading projects on the go. Reading Old Books was fun and interesting. I think I’ll try to keep going with the older books for next year. Reading LOST books is ongoing. I didn’t read nearly as many as I thought I might.

I’ve been thinking about possible new projects for 2014. I came across this post, in which the author read only books by women in 2013. It might be obvious to some readers of the words in this space that I study women authors, more specifically, women who wrote about the Bible in the nineteenth century and other distant times. I’m not sure what the gender balance of the authors I read in 2013 looks like. I’ll figure it out as part of my year-end assessment on January 1. I’m not sure I’ll shift to 100% women in 2014, but I think I’ll be more intentional about looking for women authors, particularly in theological reading. That would be an interesting challenge/project.

What about you? Any reading projects happening?

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Women’s education

Thoughts published in 1827 on educating women, from Conversations on the Bible by Sarah Ewing Hall, a book of conversations between Mother and her three children, Fanny, Catherine, and Charles. Here they are discussing Judges 4 & 5.

Fanny. Difficult as it is to reconcile our present notions with the conduct of Jael—or indeed to the participation of women in warlike exploits at all, I must plume myself on Deborah. The appointment of a woman to the dignity of a ruler and a prophet, by unerring wisdom, is in favour of my opinion, that the mental powers of the sexes are naturally equal.

Mother. That is a question my dear, which we can never determine until their natural powers are alike cultivated by education. So long as one and twenty years are unremittingly given to the improvement of the mind of one, and not more than half that time to the other, and that besides, in a desultory manner, it will be altogether unfair to estimate the minds of men and women by their subsequent conduct.

Go Sarah Hall almost 200 years ago.

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Great Men/Women Theories

I am currently reading Dorothy L. Sayers again. I’ve made it to Gaudy Night in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. Gaudy Night is one of my favourite of these books. Once, when I had it with me at church, Fee, an elder now with Jesus, informed me that it was one of her favourites. I know I liked it because of the interesting female lead. I think Fee might have liked it for similar reasons. As I read last night, I came across a passage that I don’t think I’d spotted before. I’ve been interested in the “Great Men” historiography of the nineteenth century because I’ve worked with women writing in the nineteenth century who had to deal with that kind of thinking. In Gaudy Night Harriet mused on a counter theory of great women. Here is her musing

“Though of course,” Harriet reminded herself, “a woman may achieve greatness, or at any rate great renown, by merely being a wonderful wife and mother, like the mother of the Gracchi; whereas the men who have achieved great renown by being devoted husbands and fathers might be counted on the fingers of one hand. Charles I was an unfortunate king, but an admirable family man. Still, you would scarcely class him as one of the world’s great fathers, and his children were not an unqualified success. Dear me! Being a father is either a very difficult or a very sadly unrewarded profession. Wherever you find a great man, you will find a great mother or a great wife standing behind him—or so they used to say. It would be interesting to know how many great women have had great fathers and husbands behind them. An interesting thesis for research. Elizabeth Barrett? Well, she had a great husband, but he was great in his own right, so to speak—and Mr. Barrett was not exactly—The Brontes? Well, hardly. Queen Elizabeth? [Note: no number as book written in 1935.] She had a remarkable father, but devoted helpfulness towards his daughters was scarcely his leading characteristic. And she was so wrong-headed as to have no husband. Queen Victoria? You might make a good deal out of poor Albert, but you couldn’t do much with the Duke of Kent.”

Excellent. I rather liked this line of thought.

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25 Books By Women Every Christian Should Read

A couple of years ago Renovaré, with the help of a specially selected board of leading lights in the field of spiritual formation, put out a book called 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. I noticed the lack of women authors as I perused the list. So did Jana Riess, who wrote a post about that lack for beliefnet. Of the 25 books listed, 2 were authored by women, and these two women are both long dead – Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila. In order to procrastinate on my own writing project this sunny summer Saturday, I’ve decided to come up with a list of 25 books By Women that every Christian should read. You may disagree with my selections; feel free to suggest other titles by women.

Note that I’ve tried to match books in the male-author-dominated list with works by women from similar time periods. I begin with the two women who made the initial list, then move on to the 23 I picked out.

  1. Revelations of Divine Love, Julian of Norwich
  2. The Interior Castle, Teresa of Avila
  3. Complete Works & Correspondence, Katherine Parr
  4. Psalms of David, Mary Sidney, Countess Pembroke (finishing her brother’s work)
  5. A Short and Easy Method of Prayer, Jeanne Guyon
  6. Flowing Light of the Godhead, Mechthild of Madgeburg
  7. The Golden Sequence, Evelyn Underhill
  8. Writings of Clare of Assisi, Clare of Assisi
  9. Practical Piety, Hannah More
  10. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë
  11. The Forgotten Desert Mothers, ed. by Laura Swan
  12. The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe
  13. An Essay on Christian Education, Sarah Trimmer
  14. Scivas, Hildegard of Bingen
  15. Book of the City of the Ladies, Christine de Pizan
  16. Writings of Katharina Zell (one collection in English is titled Church Mother)
  17. Collected Writings of Susanna Wesley, Susanna Wesley
  18. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, Amelia Lanyer
  19. The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, Christina G. Rossetti
  20. Listening to God, Joyce Huggett
  21. Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  22. The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy L. Sayers
  23. Radical Gratitude, Mary Jo Leddy
  24. Holy the Firm, Annie Dillard
  25. Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters, ed. Marion Ann Taylor & Agnes Choi

The last book is a resource for anyone who wants to read more books women wrote through history. There are many more. I’ve tried to go for highlights.

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