After moving to St. Louis I found myself engaged in a variety of tasks related to writing and literature. Hard put of how to encapsulate and describe what I did besides my own writing, my friend Stephanie Farrow suggested that I put “Woman of Letters” on my card representing my work.
This I did. “Woman of Letters” sounds like a glorious phrase, but the tasks are often mundane and can distract from one’s own writing.
Thus, last week I rounded up all these tasks and set to with a will to clear them off my to do list.
My Women of Letters tasks? I wrote a book foreword and sent notes to the author; finished a book review and posted it; wrote an article on one of the conference sessions for the Women Writing the West newsletter; and sent in my contest rankings for an elementary Big Write contest.
What was a Woman of Letters in literary history?
Before we had “Women of Letters” we had “Men of Letters.” I think of 18th century writers such as Dryden, Pope, Swift, and Johnson. I imagine these men gathered in the chocolate houses of the day, opining and arguing literary ideas…and sharing their writing.
In the 19th c. in Victorian England, women joined the men as for the first time they gained professional status, secure income, and public fame.
I am not of their stature, but I like to think I am somehow in their company.