Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney are the authors of A Secret Sisterhood: The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf, with a foreword by Margaret Atwood. (The title of the American edition is A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf.)
Emma and Emily became friends almost two decades ago, at a time when they were both living in rural Japan – working as English teachers by day, and scribbling stories in secret by night.
In the years since then, they’ve come to rely on each other’s support, celebrating writerly successes together and providing a shoulder to cry on when the going got tough.
This started them wondering about the collaborations between their literary forebears.
Several male writing friendships have become the stuff of legend: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, for instance, Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
But did Jane Austen have a fellow writer with whom she shared her ideas? What about Mary Shelley, Emily Dickinson, or Virginia Woolf?
Since 2014, Something Rhymed has been profiling different pairs of female writer pals – adding a celebratory note to today’s resurgent feminist conversation.
Joining in the conversation:
As ever, we’re continuing to look for literary pairings to profile on this site, so if you know of any friendships between famous female authors, do please get in touch.
We love to get your comments on our posts, here on this website or on our Facebook page. Or you can tweet using the hashtag #SomethingRhymed.
Why ‘Something Rhymed’?
The phrase comes from the title of a poem by Jackie Kay, in which she celebrates her friendship with the novelist Ali Smith. Having always felt that something rhymed between us, we’re now learning from the rhymes and rhythms of your friendships, and those of our literary heroines too.