“A Secret Sisterhood” by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

This book tells the quite fascinating stories of a number of famous women writers and the support they received from female friends.

The authors are successful women writers themselves who have become friends through their writing – and so they know wherof they are writing in this book. We are all familiar with male literary friendships – all the way from Byron and Shelley to Fitzgerald and Hemingway. But the most celebrated female authors are mostly known as solitary geniuses or isolated eccentrics.

In this book we learn of the friendship between Jane Austen and one of the family servants called Anne Sharp, who used to write plays for the children and helped criticize Austen’s work. There is an amazing description of the way Harriet Beecher Stowe, a successful writer, sent off a letter to “My Dear Friend” across the Atlantic to an equally successful writer who had taken the nom de plume George Eliot, and they became friends. As did Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield. This book does a very successful job of offering a new perspective on established literary figures.

Reviewed by Anne McDougall