Today I am highlighting three writers that have had a tremendous impact on my creative process. Even more than the sheer talent and intelligence, these women created and broke stereotypes while they cared for family. A balance I struggle with quite often. For inspiration and record, I wanted to present the women writers I hold as hallmark.
Mary Shelley, FRANKENSTEIN or THE MODERN PROMETHEUS - Though Mary Shelley began her classic Gothic-Horror tale when she was just eighteen, finishing it when she was twenty, she had already lived through several personal tragedies. Mary’s own mother died shortly after giving birth to her daughter. Years later, after meeting Percy Shelley and beginning a romantic relationship with the poet and philosopher, Mary lost her own daughter and thus began a sad cycle of birth and death for the young woman. Mary had four children, only one of whom survived, and was surrounded by death, natural and otherwise, most of her life. Though many believe Mary’s husband held heavy influence on FRANKENSTEIN, about a mad doctor and his new Adam, it can be understood why Mary might have an obsession with death and bringing back the living.
Kate Chopin, THE AWAKENING – Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Kate Chopin was educated in strict Catholic confines at The Sacred Heart Academy where she discovered her talent for writing. After her father’s death, Kate lived in St. Louis with grand and great-grandparents; several generations of strong, fierce women. She was taught to be strong, though her family faced much loss, including the death of most of her siblings. She eventually married Oscar Chopin and moved to his home of New Orleans. Within eight years she gave birth to six children. After twelve years of marriage, Oscar passed away, leaving Kate Chopin in debt and destitute. After years of managing the businesses of her late husband she returned home to St. Louis. There, Kate’s physician and friend suggested Kate begin writing to ease her depression, focus her energy and perhaps, bring money to the family. Her writing was accepted and reviewed as local and folkish in turn. However, years later, after her death at age of 54, Kate Chopin’s work would be looked upon in a different light. Hers were stories of oppression, sexism, freedom, and regret. Now we see Kate Chopin as one of the first female authors to highlight freedmen education and rights and the emergence of feminism. Kate Chopin’s stories were the realities of women.
Shirley Jackson, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE- Shirley Jackson, master of horror and suspense, composed six novels, two memoirs, and over 200 short stories during her life, all while raising four children with her husband on a farm in New England. After writing "The Lottery", which tells of the dark underbelly of a small, bucolic American village, received quite a bit of notoriety. Throughout the 1950’s Shirley Jackson continued to write short stories and essays, publishing with some of the biggest literary magazines at the time. Some of these short stories were collected and organized in novel form, making her two darkly comedic books LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES and RAISING DEMONS. In 1959 Shirley published THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, a horror story relating one long weekend where psychics visit a very haunted house to discover its secrets. THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is considered by many to be one of the best ghost stories ever written.