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Elizabeth Bowen

Literature Cambridge’s season on brilliant women writers of the early twentieth century continues through December, with four more online sessions scheduled.

The Women Writers Season focuses on writers in English, with most based in Britain. It provides the opportunity to discover some wonderful writers who are not read today, and to study them with leading scholars.

Each online study session has a live lecture with a leading scholar and a seminar on Zoom.

Here are the details:

  • Trudi Tate on Elizabeth Bowen, The House in Paris (1935). Saturday, 18 September 2021, 10 a.m. BT. Please note that this time is different than those of the other sessions. Lit Cambridge hopes to repeat this lecture at 6 p.m. at a later date. Book here.

    Katherine Mansfield portrait by Anne Estelle Rice

  • Claire Davison on Winifred Holtby, Land of Green Ginger. ‘Life’s Adventure’: Winifred Holtby and Post-Suffrage Feminism. Saturday, 23 October 2021, 6 p.m. BT. Book here.
  • Isobel Maddison on Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth Von Arnim: Complementary Cousins. Saturday, 13 November 2021, 6 p.m. BT. Book here.
  • Claire Davison on Katherine Mansfield and the Russians. Saturday, 11 December 2021, 6 p.m. BT. Book here.

Cost

The cost of each session ranges from £26 at full price to £22 for students and members of pertinent societies.

 

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Once again, Literature Cambridge is offering a wide array of online courses featuring Virginia Woolf and other renowned women writers who were her contemporaries. Read on for the details.

Women Writers Season

Go online to study a range of Woolf’s wonderful contemporaries. Authors on the list include Elizabeth Bowen, Winifred Holtby, Zora Neale Hurston, Rosamund Lehmann, Katherine Mansfield, Vita Sackville West, and many others — a full dozen in all.

The season focuses on writers in English, with most, but not all, based in Britain. Many of the authors included are not read widely today.

This is a great opportunity to discover some wonderful writers, and to study them with leading scholars.

Each online study session has a live lecture with a leading scholar and seminar on Zoom.

The season runs from June to September 2021. Get the details.

Virginia Woolf Season

The second Woolf Season starts in October 2021, runs through May 2022, and studies most of Woolf’s major works in detail. It includes live online lectures and seminars with leading scholars. Get the details.

The first season which explored Woolf’s major works in consecutive order, began in October 2020 with The Voyage Out (1915) and ran through June of this year with Between the Acts (1941).

Each two-hour class via Zoom was taught by a Woolf expert from the UK and featured a one-hour original lecture followed by a question and answer session.

Summer Wednesdays

As requested, some popular past sessions will be repeated on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. British Summer Time during July and August. Topics include:

Special rates for members

Members of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain can book at the student rate for Woolf sessions.

Karina Jacubowicz is just one lecturer in Literature Cambridge’s online courses on Virginia Woolf via Zoom.

A Literature Cambridge Zoom room

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Female friends are special. I often wonder what I would do without them. So I like to take note of stories about longtime women friends.

This was particularly true during the past week. Knowing that today I was on the blog tour schedule to publish a review of A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney, stories of women’s friendships kept popping out at me.

I’ll share just two of them before adding the promised review.

Akron Beacon Journal article featuring the lifelong friendship of two women, now 94 and 100.

Women friends on a local level

Yesterday, the front page of my local newspaper featured such a close friendship.  It told the story of two women — one black, one white — who led a Girl Scout troop in an all-white community back in 1954 and became fast friends, as did their daughters.

Women friends on a national level

Last week, a lecture I attended by Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation (2016) spoke of the importance of women’s friendships throughout U.S. history. She also emphasized how those intimate friendships sustained and supported women when their marriage relationships, often entered into solely for financial reasons, did not.

Women’s literary friendships

Women writers had sustaining friendships with female friends, too. But as  Margaret Atwood says in her foreward to A Secret Sisterhood, female literary friendships have often been overlooked.

Midorikawa and Sweeney bring them into the limelight in their 2017 book, A Secret Sisterhood. Now out in paperback in the UK, it explores the “secret sisterhoods” entered into by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. My focus will be on the book’s final section, whose three chapters explore the ambivalent friendship between Woolf and Katherine Mansfield.

Woolf and Mansfield: friends or foes, cat or mouse?

Anyone who studies Woolf knows that there is much discussion of the love-hate relationship between Woolf and Mansfield. In Secret Sisters, Midorikawa and Sweeney bring it into clear focus.

They are careful to describe the complicated relationship between the two, showing us how and why Woolf considered Mansfield both her “bitter opponent and beloved friend — unrivaled by any other” (260). They use excerpts from letters, diaries and more to compile a detailed timeline that clarifies the relationship without oversimplifying its nuances.

The authors follow the relationship between the two writers from its spring 1917 beginnings in Mansfield’s humble Chelsea flat, where Woolf offered Mansfield the opportunity to have her work published with the newly formed Hogarth Press, to the news, delivered by Woolf’s maid Nellie Boxall in January 1923, that Mansfield had died.

In between, Midorikawa and Sweeney document the ups and downs of their professional alliance, as well as their personal relationship. Among them are Garsington gossip, the rivalry between the two to use the Garsington garden as the setting for a short story, and the ways they supported each other’s literary careers while engaging in creative competition.

We also get an inside view of Mansfield’s ill health and financial challenges, Woolf’s mixed feelings about Mansfield’s work, and the insecurities each woman had about the other as both a trusted friend and literary sounding board.

A Secret Sisterhood lays out the intimate inner workings of the friendship and competition between Woolf and Mansfield, setting theories and rumors to rest and illuminating a relationship characterized by a “rare sense of communion” (250) that has interested their readers for decades.

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For the month of March only, Literature Cambridge is offering a special discount price for its summer courses “Virginia Woolf and Politics” and “Women Writers: Emily Brontë to Elizabeth Bowens.”

Full price is £1600, but during the month of March, members of recognized Virginia Woolf societies can book at the special price of £1500 for  summer courses. On April 1, the price returns to £1550.

Register here.

Who takes the courses?

Students include academics, graduate students, and teachers, as well as the intelligent ‘common readers’ that Woolf herself so valued.

What do fees include?

Course fee includes six nights bed and breakfast (ensuite), course materials, lectures, supervisions, excursions, talks, some evening meals, and a traditional Cambridge afternoon tea.

For more information, email: info@literaturecambridge.co.uk

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Summer courses in Cambridge 2018

Virginia Woolf and Politics
1-6 July 2018, Wolfson College, Cambridge

Immerse yourself for a week in the books and ideas of Virginia Woolf. In 2018, we will learn more about Woolf’s interest in the politics of her time: the First World War, the education of women, the rise of the Labour Party. We will also explore her interest in pacifism and human rights, and her thoughts on gender and on families.

To be studied: A Room of One’s Own, Three Guineas, Orlando, The Years and selected essays.

No prior knowledge is assumed; just an interest in Woolf and a love of reading. Whether you know the politics of Woolf’s period well, or are coming to it for the first time, this course will deepen your understanding of Woolf’s wonderful writing.

Women Writers: Emily Bronte to Elizabeth Bowen
8-13 July 2018, Homerton College, Cambridge

This is a rare opportunity to study five great women who were writing in Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries:

  • Bronte, Wuthering Heights
  • George Eliot, Mill on the Floss
  • Woolf, To the Lighthouse
  • Katherine Mansfield, “The Garden Party” and other stories
  • Elizabeth Bowen, To the North

Both courses are taught by leading scholars, with lectures, seminars, supervisions, readings, walks and the chance to go punting. Live like a Cambridge student for a week of intensive, exciting study.

Teachers include: Gillian Beer, Clare Walker Gore, Trudi Tate, Claire Nicholson, Claire Davison, Frances Spalding, Peter Jones, Aiofe Byrne, Nadine Tschacksch, Jeremy Thurlow, and others.

Discount for early bookings by 22 December 2017.

After 22 December, a discount for students and members of recognized Woolf societies (and other relevant societies such as the George Eliot Fellowship and the Katherine Mansfield Society), are available, subject to enrollment.

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