Sylvia Plath’s ghostly presence at Faber & Faber

I don’t know if Ted Hughes thanked his wife, Sylvia Plath, for typing in any of his acknowledgements, but he should have. She typed, and typed, and typed. She typed submissions for the poetry competitions that gave him early success. She typed the sets of poems he submitted to Fabers, which garnered the attention of T. S. Eliot, poet and publisher. But Plath herself was not published by Fabers until after her death in 1963, when Hughes, who had left her, negotiated a contract with Faber & Faber because he [...]

September 30th, 2020|Categories: Reading & Writing, Writing a Woman's Life|Tags: |

Cooking through a crisis with M F K Fisher (and ckbk.com)

After I published the post "To Cook A Wolf - Baking with M F K Fisher," the cookbook platform ckbk suggested we collaborate in promoting an idea we both clearly believe: that home cooking can help us get through the COVID-19 crisis. I had picked up How to Cook a Wolf because it’s about eating during an emergency era, dealing with strained budgets and scarce provisions. M. F. K. Fisher tackled the challenge of hearing the wolf at the door with panache. It is true that, when the wolf first [...]

May 26th, 2020|Categories: At the Table|

Foraging fiddleheads, hostas, and more

Long before lockdown began in Massachusetts, I’d been laying in supplies at the urging of my son in Beijing, who’d already been through it. I started planning a vegetable garden, but was a little concerned about getting enough fresh vegetables. It would be ages until there was anything from the garden, I thought, until I realized that the rather annoying ferns that are endlessly trying to dominate the beds around my house are in fact the variety that produce edible fiddleheads. Then I learned that hostas, another plant I have [...]

May 13th, 2020|Categories: At the Table, In the Garden|

The Social Life of Reading

I was involved in a forum conversation about print and digital books last week, which inspired me to take this photo of some of the books I was given by the family of a British biographer. The biographer herself, Carole Seymour-Jones, had died before we could meet, but she'd been very positive on the phone and her family offered me her books to help with my related project. They are full of her notes, occasional letters and receipts, and even a pencil marking a place. Another biographer, the late Deirdre Bair, [...]

April 18th, 2020|Categories: Reading & Writing, Writing a Woman's Life|

The Love of a Good Woman

This is my account of the first day at Princeton, 2 January 2020, published in Time Present and in the T. S. Eliot Studies Annual, Volume 3, edited by John D. Morgenstern (General Editor), Julia E. Daniel, and John Whittier-Ferguson. I read T. S. Eliot’s first love letter to Emily Hale side by side with Daniel Bates, a Brooklyn-based stringer for the Daily Mail. After a few paragraphs we looked at each other, speechless. We had been surprised but not speechless when we read Emily Hale’s brief statement, her account [...]

April 16th, 2020|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|

Where has all the toilet paper gone?

Social distancing has led to some intimate sharing in my neighborhood, starting with a plaintive email asking if anyone knew where you could find some toilet paper. Here’s the response that got the ball rolling: All over the US we are dealing with a TP shortage and grocery stores seem to be having a hard time sourcing them and keeping them in stock. If you are completely out, I’m willing to spare a roll or two. However, if you’re just low (and this goes for everyone) please consider doing the [...]

March 30th, 2020|Categories: Around the House, Eco Living|