Jennifer's Journal


Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I sometimes think with a certain envy about the so called "lady scribblers" of the eighteenth and nineteenth century.  These were women such as Fanny Burney, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly, Jane Austen, George Sand (Aurore Dudevant), Louisa May Alcott and the Bronte sisters who penned their masterpieces by the dim glow of lamps during long winter evenings.  They often wrote in their parlors so as to enjoy the fire's warmth and company of others involved in their own quiet and private pursuits.  Untroubled by the noise of television, video games or stereo sound systems, they used the hours after dark to weave their tales of angst and fantasy, scratching away with the simplest of pen and ink and in perfect concentration.
This is how I imagine it, at least.
Maybe they didn't.  Maybe their parents, siblings or husbands drove them mad by banging away at a piano, declaiming poetry, reading needlework instructions aloud or quarreling over card games.  Maybe the crackling of the fire or tick of the mantel clock was too loud or the chill of their fingers too distracting.  Maybe they cursed, in lady-like phrases, pens that splattered ink or else the scarcity of paper which forced them to use tiny, cramped letters and both sides of the sheets.  It's just barely possible that finding the perfect time and conditions for the labor of creation has always been difficult.  Still, it makes me feel better to believe that it was--must have been!--easier once upon a time.     


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