ES.260 | Spring 2006 | Undergraduate
Women's Novels: A Weekly Book Club

Study Materials

Hear the Writers in Their Own Voices

Margaret Atwood

Sylvia Plath: Lady Lazarus, Sylvia Plath Forum

Alice Walker

Virginia Woolf

Pride and Prejudice

Wright, Joe. Pride and Prejudice. 2005.

Leonard, Robert. Pride and Prejudice. 1940.

Langton, Simon. Pride and Prejudice. 1995.

Branagh, Kenneth. Much Ado About Nothing. 1993.

Mrs. Dalloway

Gorris, Marleen. Mrs. Dalloway. 1997.

Daldry, Stephen. The Hours. 2002.

The House of Mirth

Davies, Terence. The House of Mirth. 2000.

Jane Eyre

Amyes, Julian. Jane Eyre. 1983.

Hitchcock, Alfred. Rebecca. 1940.

The Color Purple

Spielberg, Steven. The Color Purple. 1985.

The Bell Jar

Peerce, Larry. The Bell Jar. 1979.

Jeffs, Christine. Sylvia. 2003.

Useful Web Sites, Resources, and Fun Facts

Jane Austen

“Expect a most agreeable letter, for not being overburdened with subject (having nothing at all to say), I shall have no check to my genius from beginning to end.” - Austen

Check out this Jane Austen Site , especially the “Jane Austen Information Page.” There are E-texts of all her works and a searchable database of her letters. On that page, see the  quotes from her letters and also look at what famous people have said about her. Note especially some of Brontë’s quotes (we’ll be reading her Jane Eyre), e.g.:

“I have likewise read one of Miss Austen’s works, Emma – read it with interest and with just the degree of admiration which Miss Austen herself would have thought sensible and suitable – anything like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, or heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstrations the authoress would have met with a well bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outré and extravagant. She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well; there is a Chinese fidelity, a miniature delicacy in the painting: she ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound: the Passions are perfectly unknown to her; she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy Sisterhood; even to the Feelings she vouchsafes no more than an occasional graceful but distant recognition; too frequent converse with them would ruffle the smooth elegance of her progress.”

Austen’s nephew wrote a memoir of her that contains some great tidbits, such as: “[Jane Austen] would, if asked, tell us many little particulars about the subsequent career of some other people. In this traditionary way we learned that… Kitty Bennet was satisfactorily married to a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary obtained nothing higher than one other uncle Philip’s clerks, and was content to be considered a star in the society of Meriton…”

The whole memoir can be found here.

Sylvia Plath

Look at this Sylvia Plath Page for an extensive collection of information regarding everything Plath, including lengthy listings of her published writing and of books other people have written about her as well.

Margaret Atwood

See the Margaret Atwood Reference Site, with information on Atwood’s upcoming appearances and other useful tidbits.

Charlotte Bronte

Look through The Bronte Sisters Web, including novelist Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte Bronte.

Also take a look at the Victorian Web directory for Charlotte Bronte.

Edith Wharton

Here’s a very brief biography of Edith Wharton online. There are lots out there of varying accuracy, but we’ve actually checked this one out and didn’t see any egregious factual errors. It’s by Eleanor Dwight, who wrote a recent biography of Wharton (“An Extraordinary Life”). Additional note: Wharton was the first woman to receive either the Pulitzer Prize or the honorary doctorate from Yale.

In honor of the tableaux vivants scene of The House of Mirth, the class visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. You can explore their collections online here.

A summary of the paintings and artists mentioned in the tableaux vivants scene: (notes are from the Norton edition of The House of Mirth, pp. 105-6. In the Signet edition, the scene is on pp. 140-1.)

Spring, by “the Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445-1510),” depicts “the Three Graces very lightly clad and dancing in a circle with Spring herself entering in gauzy robes and strewing flowers about her.”

Carry Fisher appears in a painting by Francesco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), who, “for most of his life the official painter of the Spanish court, portrayed the nobility in exaggerated and generally unflattering poses that often displayed their prosperity, arrogance, and casual brutality.” An example: La Maja Vestida.

Miss Smedden from Brooklyn in “Titian’s daughter” (JPG). “Tiziano Vecelli (c. 1487-1576), called Titian and known as the most famous painter of the sensuous Venetian School, is noted for depicting a certain shade of reddish-gold hair, which appears in the painting referred to here, although it is no longer considered to be of Titian’s daughter and is known simply as Girl with Dish of Fruit.”

Mrs. Van Alstyne in Vandyck, “in black satin, against a curtained archway”: “Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1541), a Belgian who ended his life as court painter under Charles I of England, is known for his portraits tinged with melancholy.” Some of his work: Olga’s Gallery.

A Veronese Supper (JPG).

Watteau (JPG) (this may or may not be the exact painting). Incidentally, in the film version of The House of Mirth (Terence Davies), they replace Lily’s Reynolds with a Watteau painting, and the other tableaux are excluded.

In the novel, Lily appears in a “painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), easily the most influential figure in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century British art. The canvas, now in a private collection, shows a full-length view of the voluptuous, diaphanously clad Mrs. Lloyd carving her husband’s name in a tree.” Lily had considered putting herself in “Tiepolo’s Cleopatra,” “an image from a series of scenes relating the story of Antony and Cleopatra for the Palazzo Labi in Venice by the rococo painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770).” (HTML) (PNG)