Nellie Bly, known for her book Ten Days in a Madhouse, was born in 1864 just outside of Pittsburgh. She would become a true suffragette and leader in women's voices. Nellie grew up living a typical life of domestic womanhood like many in those days, but she had a voice that needed to be heard. In 1885, she wrote to the Pittsburg Dispatch, going against an article that said the only purpose for women was to clean house and take care of children and that they had no business working outside the home. In her letter, she evoked a woman's God-given abilities to work and do other jobs well, despite what society thought. Her passionate rebuke landed her a job with the Dispatch for $5 a week. But women weren't respected in journalism. Women were allowed to write about food, gardening, household topics, and fashion. But Nellie wanted to be a real journalist.
"Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."
The popular quote from C.S. Lewis is often used but rarely explored. Reading fairy tales as adults allow us to shift our perspective, opens up our minds to other possibilities, and connects us with our most authentic self.
Perhaps no other story has been retold more than Cinderella. Her rags to riches fable is appealing for its surface moral, but when we dig deeper, the tale has more to say. And depending on the version, her character ranges from independent and strong-willed to even murderous.
"I will do something by-and-by. Don't care what, teach, sew, act, write, anything to help the family, and I'll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won't." – These are the words of young Louisa May Alcott, a determined woman who sought to pull her family from poverty in a time when women rarely did such a thing. Much like her literary counterpart, Jo March, Louisa was a rebel with a fundamental cause—to feed her parents and sisters. The Alcott family struggled most of their lives, and if it weren't for Louisa, they likely would have continued to do so.
Born November 29th, 1832, to transcendentalist parents Abigail May and Amos Bronson Alcott, Louisa worked from an early age to help the family's ongoing financial crisis. She proved to be a force in the literary world with her novel, Little Women, which skyrocketed her fame and cemented her place in classic literature.
Many women and some men have fond memories of the first time they read the book—the cozy feelings they felt when escaping in the loving warmth of the March’s home. I certainly have those memories.
But life for Louisa and her family was much more challenging than the charming novel described.
Her birth took a life. Her life birthed a nightmare. And her greatest loves died way too soon.
Most of us have read and watched the various versions of Frankenstein. The image of the nameless monster created by a mad scientist is at the center of horror culture. But what inspired such a horrific and grisly tale?
Mary Shelley’s life was its own gothic tragedy—full of loss, pain, and even a few monsters.
The South is full of superstition, folklore, and spooks. I think it's because of our large number of Scottish descendants, but it could also be because people move slower here. We spend lots of time sitting around the table or on our dusty front porches. We're natural-born storytellers. We believe in community and keeping traditions alive.
Southern Gothic Literature focuses on grotesque themes, often featuring broken, damaged, and delusional characters with possible supernatural elements. It's a vibrant genre that has long captured the attention of audiences. Authors who write Southern Gothic embrace their heritage and write about what they know best--the mysterious, murky madness that staunch tradition, religion, and secrecy create.
All writers are told to "write what you know," but why is that so important? Behind all believable fiction, there is someone's true experience and emotion. Tolkien's full and interesting life bled into his masterpieces. In this episode, we'll find out the story behind The Lord of the Ring's epic cast and adventure.
What is it about fairy tales that intrigue us—that endure time? Perhaps it’s simply their closeness to purity and innocence that we long for. Or, what if it’s not their moral that grips us but their villain? What if the layers were peeled back, and the sweet, pure characters revealed their skeletons. After all, no one is who they seem.
In this episode, we’ll uncover another Snow White, along with her sister Rose Red. And we’ll explore the strange, beastly love they encounter.
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There are certain things that once experienced, there’s no going back. In this episode, we'll meet the forgotten author, Conrad Aiken. He witnessed the most horrific thing a person could when he was eleven years old. That life-altering event both haunted him an defined him. We’ll discuss the most famous poet most people have never known.
On December 3rd, 1926, the Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie disappeared and wasn't seen again for 11 days. What happened to her? Let's travel back in time and peek behind the carefully wrought facade of Agatha's seemingly perfect life. We'll find out why she took this one to the grave.