“Lear contributes a great deal to our understanding of Rawlings and Glasgow and to Southern fiction of the first half of the twentieth century.”—Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature
"Tackles the complex and fascinating relationship between Glasgow and Rawlings and demonstrates these writers’ influences on one another, both personally and professionally. This book is one we have needed for a long time."—Pamela R. Matthews, editor of Perfect Companionship: Ellen Glasgow’s Selected Correspondence with Women
"A richly detailed account of a significant literary kinship—a respectful, empathetic tie that led Rawlings to undertake a biography of the life and career of Glasgow. A fascinating narrative."—Peggy Whitman Prenshaw, author of Composing Selves: Southern Women and Autobiography
"A thoughtful and thought-provoking comparative analysis of one of the most under-studied and undervalued literary relationships of the twentieth century."—Brent E. Kinser, coeditor of The Uncollected Writings of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Beginning with the letter that sparked a unique friendship, Ashley Andrews Lear examines the deep connections between two pioneers of American literature who broke the mold for women writers of their time. Pulitzer Prize–winning novelists Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Ellen Glasgow had divergent careers in different locations—Rawlings in backcountry Florida and Glasgow in urban Virginia—yet their correspondence on life and writing reveals one of the great literary friendships of the South. Rawlings felt such admiration for Glasgow that she spent the last year of her life compiling materials for Glasgow’s biography, a work she never completed. Lear draws on the documents Rawlings collected about Glasgow, Rawlings’s personal notes, and letters between the two writers to describe the experiences that brought them together.
Lear shows that Rawlings and Glasgow shared a love of nature and social activism, had complex relationships with their parents and siblings, and prioritized their professional lives over romantic attachments. They were both classified as writers of regional works and juvenilia by critics, and Lear traces their discussions about how to respond to the opinions of book reviewers. Both were also forced to confront a new, quickly modernizing America, which at times clashed with their traditional values and naturalistic lifestyles. This is a fascinating portrait of a friendship that sustained two women writers in a time of social upheaval and changing norms in the American South.
Ashley Andrews Lear is professor of humanities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.