Tea with TLW #5 – Dr Julie Olin-Ammentorp on Edith Wharton and Willa Cather

Tea with TLW #5  – Livening Up Lockdown since early May!

TLW Season 2_Facebook

Please join the team on Wednesday 3 June at 4PM UK time for our fifth #TeawithTLW.

This week it’ll be tea, cake and friendly chat, with our very special guest- the brilliant Dr Julie Olin-Ammentorp who’ll be joining us to give a short talk on her recent, highly acclaimed study of two transatlantic literary giants, Edith Wharton and Willa Cather.

Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and the Place of Culture is the first comparative study of Wharton and Cather in thirty years. The book combines biographical, historical, and literary analyses with a focus on place and aesthetics to reveal Wharton’s and Cather’s parallel experiences of dislocation, their relationship to each other as writers, and the profound similarities in their theories of fiction.
Julie provides a new assessment of the affinities between Wharton and Cather by exploring the importance of literary and geographic place in their lives and works, including the role of New York City, the American West, France, and travel. In doing so she reveals the two authors’ shared concern about the culture of place and the place of culture in the United States.

It was worth the thirty-year wait! The book has been described as a “splendid meditation on place, culture, and beauty” (Irene Goldman-Price), offering “a stunning synthesis of the biographical, the cultural, and the literary” (Robert Thacker). Melanie Dawson recognises the work also “speaks more broadly to the careers and global interests of women writers whose experiences of place, tracel, geography, nationality, and postwar identities shaped their careers in ways distinctive to the early twentieth century.” It’s the perfect recipe for the Transatlantic Literary Women!

Event Details

This is a friendly, short, informal talk, with time for questions and chat. Come and hear about the origins of the book and the challenging process of organisation. And ask away. Which writer described the other’s books as “blurry”? What were their shared theories of fiction? Which writer stated that “the novel manufactured to entertain great multitudes of people must be considered exactly like a cheap soap or a cheap perfume, or cheap furniture?” (You might be surprised!) In what sense are Wharton and Cather really “American” writers? What were their parallel experiences of displacement? Why have their complex and fascinating conversations often been ignored? Join us and find out more.

Read more about the book and about Julie here: https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/university-of-nebraska-press/9781496203243/

If you’d like to join us, please email us at: transatlantic.women@gmail.com and we’ll send you a secure Zoom link on the day.

All welcome! We hope to see you there.

TeamTLW: Laura, Anna, Chiara and Lindsay


Tea With TLW #2 – Kristina West on Little Women

Screenshot 2020-05-06 at 20.06.50

Tea with TLW 

Wednesday 13 May 2020, 4PM UK Time

Please join us on Wed 13 May for our second #TeawithTLW. It’ll be tea, cake and friendly chat as before, only this time with a very special guest, Dr Kristina West, to talk all things Louisa May Alcott and Little Women!

Krissie is the author of  Louisa May Alcott and the Textual Child, and the forthcoming Reading the Salem Witch ChildLouisa May Alcott and the Textual Child examines constructions of children through the work of Alcott. Read about the book and see a free preview here:https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783030390242. It’s just out, hot off the press from Palgrave, and we’re delighted that Krissie has agreed to join us for tea to talk about Alcott.

We know Louisa May Alcott is a firm TW favourite and that many of you have seen the recent film. In a short, informal talk, Krissie will reference the movie, the new upsurge of interest in Alcott’s work as a reason to revisit her children’s stories (yes, there’s more than Little Women and Good Wives!) and will ask us to think about what it means to read biographically and why readers of Alcott’s works  are especially prone to do this.

In a relaxed, friendly session, there’ll be lots of time for questions and chat. Bring your own tea, cake, pickled limes.
If you’d like to join us, please email us at: transatlantic.women@gmail.com and we’ll send you a secure Zoom link on the day.

If you are joining us, here are some quotes that Krissie would like you to read before our discussion. And, click here for a discount flyer for Krissie’s wonderful new book on Alcott!

‘We really lived most of it’: Reading autobiography in the children’s works of Louisa May Alcott
Dr Krissie West

One of these problems is the attempt to define and to treat autobiography as if it were a literary genre among others. […] By making autobiography into a genre, one elevates it above the literary status of mere reportage, chronicle, or memoir and gives it a place, albeit a modest one, among the canonical hierarchies of the major literary genres.
Paul de Man, ‘Autobiography as de-facement’

Whether in the case of the woman writer struggling to transform the most painful aspect of her story into writing, or political actors brought face to face with the worst of their own past, the question is always: how do we negotiate the passage between those parts of ourselves which belong to others by the mere fact of being in the world, and those parts, sometimes too painful to contemplate, which we yet feel to be most fiercely our own?
Jacqueline Rose, On Not Being Able to Sleep

The peanut-crunching crowd

Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot—

The big strip tease.
Sylvia Plath, ‘Lady Lazarus’

The Marches send thier [sic] regards & are all robust except Marmee who is much broken & is now the cherished “old baby” as she calls herself. Amy is painting away in London & coming home to keep house in March. Meg & the lads are with us here in Boston for the winter. Mr. M. lectures & takes care of his large parish of young men & women. Jo is nurse, housekeeper, scribbler & Papa to the boys.
Louisa May Alcott, Letters

I should dearly love to record in a few tender pages, for other boys & girls to read & remember, this sweet & noble life whose influence is still felt, whose memory is still green in the hearts of many […] I give no names & merely use such characteristics, events & games as will give life to the picture.
Louisa May Alcott, Letters

I […] try to tell the history of a boy who really lived and really left behind him a memory so precious that it will not soon be forgotten by those who knew and loved him. For the influence of this short life was felt by many, and even this brief record of it may do for other children what the reality did for those who still lay flowers on his grave, and try to be “as good as Elly”.
Louisa May Alcott, Jack and Jill

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy werereal. Meg yearns for nicer clothes and wealthy society; Amy desires popularity, good looks, and admiration; Beth wishes for a voice and self-confidence; and Jo burns for fame and literary success. Their hopes and dreams are largely those shared by adolescents, then and now.
Dan Shealy, Introduction, An Annotated Little Women

[H]owever closely the critic tries to follow the currents of the writing, she is likely to feel this counter-flow, find herself drifting into her writers’ lives, into the inexorable logic of fame.
Jacqueline Rose, On Not Being Able to Sleep

We hope to see you there!

Team TLW: Laura, Anna, Chiara, Lindsay


Tea with TLW

Screenshot 2020-05-01 at 11.11.11   ‘Lily smiled faintly at the injunction to take her tea strong.
It was the temptation she was always struggling to resist.’
– Edith Wharton, House of Mirth

Tea with TLW
Wednesday 6 May, 4pm UK time

We miss you! How are you?

We’d like to invite you to tea with the Transatlantic Literary Women on Wed 6 May, 4pm UK time (hopefully not too early for TLW friends across the Atlantic.) We’d love to see you and hear from you. It’s an invitation open to all, whether you’ve been to all of our events, one or two of the events, or to date none of them at all. And if you’re not in Scotland and can’t make it to our in-person gatherings, here’s your chance.

Please join us for virtual tea with TLW. This is a relaxed, informal virtual get-together over drinks of your choice. Home-made cakes encouraged. Come and chat with like-minded peers. What are you reading at the moment? Are you returning to old favourites? Are you finding it difficult to read in lockdown? What are you researching? Or is it impossible to research? How would your favourite literary characters respond to lockdown? (Undine Spragg fading out of the limelight, or a social media star?)

We thought we might have a loose Edith Wharton theme for our first chat depending on who comes for tea, but if you’re not a Wharton person (painful to write) please don’t let that hold you back–it’s loose, very loose! We’re basically here to chat anything and everything Transatlantic Literary Women–and we’d love to see you. Our TLW mantra: friendly, supportive, welcoming. Baking skills a bonus.

If you’d like to join us, email us at:  transatlantic.women@gmail.com and we’ll send you a secure Zoom link on the day.

We hope to see you on Wednesday!

Team TLW: Laura, Anna, Chiara and Lindsay #teawithtlw

WriteNow – Penguin Writing Opportunity


About WriteNow

Applications are now open for WriteNow – Penguin’s programme to find, nurture and publish new writers from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves.

WriteNow gives you the tools, information and access you need to get published. It offers:

–  A free workshop on how to get published, with published authors, literary agents and industry experts

–  One-to-one feedback on your writing from a Penguin editor

–  The chance to join a year-long programme, where you’ll be matched with an editor to offer expert support and advice while you work on your book

–  The chance to get your book published! We’ve already signed publishing deals with 10 writers discovered through the programme, with many more to come

This opportunity is open to any unpublished writers based in the UK and Ireland, who identify as coming from an under-represented background or community. We accept fiction, non-fiction and children’s submissions.

So far ten authors have been published through WriteNow with more to come – could you be next?

 Apply by midnight on Sunday 31 May. Find out more at www.penguin.co.uk/writenow


Please use #WriteNow and tag @penguinukbooks in any tweets

EVENT: ‘Diana Gabaldon and the American Obsession with Scotland’ with Dr. Rachel Noorda

Please join us and Dr. Rachel Noorda on the 11th of November for the second event of this TLW series: the Outlander-themed discussion, ‘Diana Gabaldon and the American Obsession with Scotland’.

Free to all! 5:15pm on the 11th of November, Room 205, 4 The Square, University of Glasgow.
Come along for refreshments, and a discussion of transatlantic relations in popular literature and media!

Rachel Noorda Social Image

Transatlantic American writer Diana Gabaldon is author of the bestselling Scottish historical fiction Outlander series, which has sold over 20 million copies. In this talk, Dr. Rachel Noorda investigates Gabaldon’s popularity amongst readers in the United States through the lens of the Scottish diaspora to untangle the reasons for the American obsession with Scotland in literature.

Dr. Rachel Noorda is Director of Book Publishing and Assistant Professor of English at Portland State University. She earned her PhD in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling. Her research expertise and interests include twenty-first century book culture, international book marketing and audiences (like the Scottish diaspora), and small business and entrepreneurship in book publishing.

The Transatlantic Literary Women Series is generously funded by the British Association for American Studies / United States Embassy Small Grants Programme. Follow us on twitter @atlantlitwomen.


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…

A new edition of Zelda Fitzgerald’s Save Me The Waltz will be published on January 14th by Handheld Press. We spoke with founder Kate Macdonald about the publishing process ahead of her talk at the University of Glasgow on the 23rd of January.

Zelda-cover-with-border-300x480 Zelda Fitzgerald is no stranger to being overlooked. Her combined work with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bits of Paradise (consisting of twenty-three stories written by the couple) would see Zelda’s name erased from many of the titles, and literary agent Harold Ober removed her name from her short story Millionaire’s Girl on publication. Yet, she persisted. Her novel Save Me The Waltz is a masterpiece, documenting a woman’s desire for freedom in her own life set throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Despite recent critical acclaim, the book finds itself in and out of print regularly, and so founder of Handheld Press, Kate Macdonald, knew she had to act.  “When I heard her only novel had gone out of print, it was like a call to arms for me, a lightbulb moment. The neglected woman author is probably my most enduring scholarly interest, and I knew the market would respond well to a new edition of this novel.”

Save Me The Waltz follows Alabama Beggs, a woman who ‘wanted her own way about things’ and is determined to follow her own path. After marrying artist David Knight (the book is widely thought to parallel Zelda’s relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald), Alabama’s life is a whirlwind tour of the Jazz Age, highlighting the grim realities behind a romanticised time. Eventually, Alabama finds purpose in ballet and begins to pursue the art at the age of twenty-seven. “Alabama’s ballet training, as a contrast to David Knight’s artistic life and production, and the immersion into theatrical consumption in New York and Paris in the 1920s, captivated me,” Kate adds, “as well as Zelda’s narrative style, her gift for description and dialogue and the economy of her narrative.” The ballet training scenes are particularly poignant in this age where success is often seen to be synonymous with youthfulness; Fitzgerald paints a painful picture of Alabama being told she is too old to pursue her passion in her twenties, but the strength and determination exhibited in these pages is enough to ignite inspiration in any reader.

Despite Zelda Fitzgerald experiencing a recent increase in popularity (mostly due to her relationship with her husband – highlighted in the recent Amazon Prime show ‘Z: The Beginning of Everything’), her status as a ‘forgotten’ woman writer still stands. “When I present the novel,” Kate notes, “the response has been along the lines of ‘Oh, I didn’t know she wrote’, and ‘I’ve never heard of her: is she related to F. Scott Fitzgerald?’; but I’ve had a good response from bookshop buyers, readers and scholars which has shown that my instincts to republish Save Me The Waltz were right.”

The new Handheld Press edition has an introduction from Erin E Templeton, providing a fascinating account exploring the parallels between Zelda’s struggles to have a life of her own and Alabama’s struggle to be a dancer. It also features a refreshing cover design by Nadja Guggi (who is responsible for the iconic look of the Handheld Press titles).

If you want to hear more from Kate Macdonald about publishing Save Me The Waltz (as well as Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Kingdoms of Elfin) then join us on the 23rd of January, 5 University Gardens at 5:15pm to hear an in-depth account of the publishing process.

You can purchase Save Me The Waltz here and at John Smith’s Bookshop in the Fraser Building from the 14th of January.


Protest and Activism Workshop, Wednesday 7th November (co-organised with Hook Centre for American Studies).

Wednesday 7 November, 2-4.30pm, Gannochy Seminar Room, Wolfson Medical Building, University Avenue, Glasgow University.

We’re thrilled to announce that, following the success of our Modernisms Workshop and our Wharton Workshop, we’re teaming up with the Hook Centre for American Studies to run a workshop on the theme Protest and Activism. Given that 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of partial women’s suffrage in the UK, and the 50th anniversary of the social unrest and protests in 1968, this theme felt timelier than ever. This is a relaxed, informal event. You can join us for part of the workshop or for the whole afternoon.

We’re now delighted to tell you a bit more about our three speakers:

Katja May (University of Kent): “Legacies of Resistance: From Womanist Writers to Radical Quilters”


Katja May is a third-year PhD candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Kent. Her interdisciplinary research project examines practices of needlework as a form of politics within feminist activism. This research aims to gain further insight into the relationship between personal and social transformation, social movements, politics and the role of everyday practices on the level of affect, knowledge and the phenomenology of making. Katja is a passionate quilter and has organized multiple feminist craftivism workshops and the interdisciplinary conference ‘Emotional Politics – The Role of Affect in Social Movements and Organizing’.

Kate Ballantyne (University of Birmingham): “Beyond a Rise and Fall: Tennessee Student Activism, 1954-1975”

Dr Kate Ballantyne is a Teaching Fellow in United States History at the University of Birmingham.  She received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in October 2017, and is revising her dissertation into a book manuscript on the subject she will discuss today.


Nick Batho (University of Edinburgh): “Ocean Hill Be-In: Children’s Books and
educational activism”nick (2).jpg

Nick Batho is a third year PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. His interdisciplinary work examines children’s books amidst the educational upheavals and Black Power movement in New York City. His work looks at the impact of children’s books in schools and the ways in which they were used. He is also a research assistant for the ‘Our Bondage and Our Freedom’ project at the National Library.

Helen Hanson, “Putting “Rebecca” on Trial: Daphne du Maurier and Hollywood’s mid-century Adaptation Industry”, Tuesday 9th October, 5pm.

Venue: Room 101, 5 University Gardens, Glasgow University.

TLW are thrilled to be hosting Professor Helen Hanson from the University of Exeter on Tuesday 9th October. We can’t wait to hear Prof. Hanson’s talk, “Putting “Rebecca” on Trial: Daphne du Maurier and Hollywood’s mid-century Adaptation Industry.” This is definitely one for our film buffs, and anyone interested in women and film, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, or film noir. Read on to find out more about what we’ll be discussing on the evening.

As with all our events, this talk is free and open to all. We’re a friendly and welcoming bunch here at TLW, so please do come and join us from 5pm for drinks and refreshments, with the talk beginning at 5.15pm in room 101, 5 University Gardens.

“Putting “Rebecca” on Trial: Daphne du Maurier and Hollywood’s mid-century Adaptation Industry,”



Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca (1938) has continued to grip and seduce its readers in the 80 years since its publication. The novel’s success springs from du Maurier’s brilliant control of her plot, and her bravura evocation of the gothic mood. Rebecca is a sensational story, but with its roots in the long tradition of female gothic literature, it reads like a classic. These qualities made Rebecca a highly attractive property for screen adaptation, and Alfred Hitchcock’s film version released in 1940, was huge critical and box office success; the film won the Oscar for Best Picture and it inaugurated a trend for dark gothic films for women during the 1940s. However, in the background of the film’s success Daphne du Maurier, and the film’s producer David O. Selznick, were fighting a lawsuit which contended that Rebecca infringed copyright. The story of the case, which was eventually resolved in favour of du Maurier, is intriguing. The talk will examine some of the legal documents, correspondence and statements from the legal process, and papers from the Daphne du Maurier archive at the University of Exeter. These documents provide fascinating insights into du Maurier’s writing process, as well as offering a judgement on Rebecca as a novel that is both highly original and part of the wider gothic genre.

Helen Hanson bio.png

Speaker bio: Professor Helen Hanson is an Associate Professor in Film History at the University of Exeter. She has written widely on the history of American cinema, and she has particular interests in the history of creative processes ‘behind the scenes’ in the Hollywood Studio Era. She is the author of Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic Film (2007) and Hollywood Soundscapes: Film Sound Style, Craft and Production in the Classical Era (2017) and the co-editor of The Femme Fatale: Histories, Images, Context and The Companion to Film Noir.



Help Bring Suffragettes’ Voices to Life: Call for Readers on 26/05/2018 and 27/05/2018

Dear all,

As part of our upcoming Suffrage Centenary Event, we are recruiting volunteers to read selected letters written by Suffrage campaigners and some of their relatives. We need 6 readers per day. Ideally we are hoping to find two male voices and four female voices per day, but we’ll attribute roles on a first come first served basis. You are welcome to come on Saturday or Sunday only, although we’d love it if you could spend the whole weekend with us. We’ll send you the texts in advance of the event. It goes without saying that no previous experience is needed. All you’ll need is:

  • Be free from 1pm to 4pm on Saturday 26/05 and/or Sunday 27/05
  • That’s it!

Come join us!

Christabel Pankhurst, 1909, from the Women’s Library ‘s Suffrage Collection (7JCC/O/2/108b, Licence)

Just email us at transatlantic.women@gmail.com specifying which day(s) you can attend and come along to the Glasgow’s People Palace Museum. Transcripts of the letters will be provided.

We look forward to hearing from you!

The TLW Team.