A Backward Glance (with apologies to Edith Wharton) and Looking Forward

A huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in the Transatlantic Literary Women Series this season! Speakers, blog writers, audience members, book club participants, team members past and present: thank you all! Looking back, as we plan our next season, it’s been a busy few months.

We started the new season in September with a first: a collaborative event in Edinburgh at the National Library of Scotland, with an afternoon on “Women and the Archives”. It may have been our first collaborative event with the brilliant NLS team, but we hope it won’t be the last! In a sold-out session, four speakers from both sides of the Atlantic considered the relationship between archives and literary reputations. What is the place of libraries (and other archives) in the recovery of “forgotten women writers”? What is the relationship between a writer’s archive and their literary status? We heard from Jenni Calder on the 1930s Scottish explorer and poet Isobel Wylie Hutchison, from Donna Campbell on Edith Wharton, from Imaobong Umoren on the politics of the archive of Jamaican poet and broadcaster Una Marson, and from A.N. Devers on the underrepresentation of women in the rare book trade, and why she started The Second Shelf, a rare book dealership specialising in works by female authors (@secondshelfbks).

Back in Glasgow, we were delighted to welcome Helen Hanson (University of Exeter) for her eagerly-awaited talk on Daphne du Maurier and Hollywood’s mid-century Adaptation Industry:


And later in the same month, we hosted US speaker Jennifer Haytock for her rich and timely talk, “Writing for France: American Women Writers and the Great War”:


In a collaboration with the Hook Centre for American Studies, we held a Protest and Activism Workshop, with four great ECRs speaking on womanist writers to radical quilters, on student activism, and on children’s books and educational activism. Thank you to Katja May, Kate Ballantyne, and Nick Batho.

Thank you too Katja for a great guest blog: https://transatlanticladies.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/guest-blog-stitching-everyday-resistance-feminist-politics-and-practices-of-needlework-katja-may/

And thank you to our TLW friend and supporter, Gyorgy “George” Toth, Director of Atlantic Studies at the University of Stirling, for a fascinating guest blog on Native American women’s transatlantic activism: https://transatlanticladies.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/guest-blog-native-american-womens-activism/

We’ve been trying to get the brilliant Janine Bradbury as a speaker since the TLW series started, and she definitely did not disappoint, with her talk on racial passing and its transatlantic contexts. There are serious Nella Larsen fans in TLW!


As there are serious Zelda Fitzgerald fans in the group! It was a pleasure to welcome Kate Macdonald, Director of the fabulous Handheld Press to talk about her work, including a much-needed new edition of Save Me the Waltz. https://transatlanticladies.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/what-zelda-fitzgerald-taught-me-about-ballet-and-other-publishing-excursions-the-publishing-of-zelda-fitzgerald-and-sylvia-townsend-warner-by-handheld-press-23rd-january/

We were delighted to welcome Helena Goodwyn from St Andrews who gave a brilliant talk on Margaret Harkness, W. T. Stead and the Transatlantic Social Gospel Network: https://transatlanticladies.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/helena-goodwyn-margaret-harkness-w-t-stead-and-the-transatlantic-social-gospel-network-515pm-wednesday-27th-february-room-202-4-university-gardens/

And this year we brought back the TLW book club, kicking things off in style with Dorothy Parker’s short stories, setting the most un-secret of secret passwords to access free copies of the book at the campus bookstore. We followed Parker with Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, which sparked lively discussions from book club members from both sides of the Atlantic. And we were delighted to accept an invitation from US Studies online to help relaunch their online bookhour, with Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. Wharton resistance in this group is futile.

So, what’s ahead in the next season after the break? Well, we’re starting planning soon, so if you have suggestions – which we always welcome – now’s the time to get in touch with ideas for themes, events (in-person or online), speakers, book club choices. What events would you be interested in attending? As ever, what we can do very largely depends on funding. We would like to say a massive thank you to the British Association of American Studies and the US Embassy in London for ongoing support from their small grants programme. We’re very grateful to BAAS/US Embassy for an award this year to invite three exciting speakers from the United States. Watch this space for updates!

We hope to welcome you at a friendly TLW event next season. If you’ve been to all, or many of, our events, huge thanks for your support, and please keep coming! Or, if you’ve never quite made it to one of our talks, we hope to welcome you next season. The TLW mantra: all events are free and everyone is welcome…

Helena Goodwyn, “Margaret Harkness, W. T. Stead and the Transatlantic Social Gospel Network”, 5:15pm, Wednesday 27th February, Room 202, 4 University Gardens

Transatlantic Literary Women and the Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies are excited to announce this joint event. We are delighted to be welcoming Dr. Helena Goodwyn to Glasgow to give a paper titled: “Margaret Harkness, W. T. Stead and the Transatlantic Social Gospel Network”. The talk takes place in room 202, 4 University Gardens (University of Glasgow) at 5.15pm on Wednesday 27th February, with drinks and refreshments available from 5 pm. As always, everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there!

Margaret Harkness, W. T. Stead and the Transatlantic Social Gospel Network

To be a journalist in the second half of the nineteenth century was often to be caught between accusations of evangelism and commercialism. For Margaret Harkness and W. T. Stead the desire to reach as wide an audience as possible created a tension between their idealism and popularism that each sought to overcome by marketing their respective social-activist texts as part of a wider, transnational network of reform. This talk, therefore, considers Harkness’s 1889 novel Captain Lobe: A Story of the Salvation Army, reprinted in 1891 as In Darkest London, and Stead’s 1894 socio-religious treatise If Christ Came to Chicago! A Plea for the Union of All Who Love in the Service of All Who Suffer, in light of each author’s attempts to align themselves with a movement of greater significance than their writings could achieve on their own: the transatlantic social gospel network.


Version 2About Helena

Helena Goodwyn is a Lecturer in Literature at the University of St Andrews. Her work has appeared in the THE, Journal of Victorian Culture and Victorian Periodicals Review. Her forthcoming book The Americanization of W. T. Stead will be published with Edinburgh University Press.