Friday, July 27, 2007

Back from the Bahamas

The Sistahs have been on holidays, where they bathed, from bathing-machines, in voluminous yet child-sized bathing costumes. It was all very good for their lungs. Getting away from their father didn't hurt, either.

Many questions have been asked in their absence, so let us begin to catch up.

MINDY ASKS:Is it still easier to get published if you write under a male moniker or is the playing field level now?

Charlotte says: There are two parts to this question, and they do not necessarily have anything to do with each other. Of course it is easier for a woman to get published than it was in my day, but then everything is easier than it was in my day, and particularly than it was for me.

Anne explains: We were careful to give ourselves names that did not actually indicate that we were of the stronger sex. 'Currer', 'Ellis' and 'Acton' are not gender-specific names; we were merely counting on people opting for maleness as the default position. If people were silly enough to fall for it then that was hardly our fault. We did not mind hoisting people with their own sexist petard, but we did not wish to lie.

Emily adds: Not like that coward soul George Eliot or that pathetic cheat Mrs Henry Wood or that complete sooky la la Henry Handel Richardson, whom I believe was one of yours. Pffft.


  1. I note the sistahs failed to answer the question of whether it is easier to get published as a bloke in this day and age. I think Charlie and Em are pissed at Annie, 'cos she looked better in her bathing costume. Charlie's legs are a bit stumpy and Em's got no bust to speak of.
    I'm glad they're back from that extended break though.

  2. Aah, get away. Ethel gave you a run for your money. You're just jealous because she had a room of her own and a few pence to spare.

  3. Oh and Sigmund, yes, the question. Um -- my answer would be No and No.

  4. Not to mention the devoted, civilised and decidedly cute Scottish hubby.

  5. The husband was indeed an asset.

  6. Mrs Henry Wood at least indicated her gender. And calling her names, dear Emily, is a little unkind to a hunchback who wrote the family out of poverty. She also had an abiding interest in true crime, and was very good at spotting the villain; indeed she said she would have made a good lawyer. Mrs Henry Wood for the prosecution? A truly scary thought, says a feminist and lawyer I know. yrs, Lucy Sussex

  7. My dearest Anne-
    I took up my pen in response to your most recent letter even before having read to the end. It is my natural response to such fine refreshment for one so far home! Even the simplest things from there are a grand comfort here, and it is my fortune to have their substance carried so ably all this way, by the deceptive simplicity of your delicate hand.
    So it was with some reluctance, in the midst of that coarse attempting, hoping as always your keen wit and sensibility would see through my rough phrasing, to the thoughts and intentions of this, your sincere friend, whose craft and skill such as it is, is not here, on the page, but in the world and its affairs, that I then set down my pen, neither appalled, nor shocked, but saddened somewhat, and yet then, after a moment's contemplation, it is with an even greater reluctance that I now take it up again, determined to set right that which has come sidelong out of its stall, and thus goes along its way misguidedly and in somewhat the wrong direction.
    I write, I beg your credence, this brief excursus only in order that I might save you from further embarrassment. You will, I pray, receive these words in the spirit out of which they are sent, which is I assure you that concern which proceeds from familiar admiration.
    Can you recall that long summer twilight in the verger's field? Your sister played that little mandolin I'd brought back from Lisbon, and I spoke with your brother of my disgust at the dual nature of my employment, how close I had then come to handing in my commission, and some, some but not nearly all! of the things I'd seen in Bahia in '32. Once again the smell and noise were all around, powder and shot and blood and fear, though I think you knew quite well much of what I might have said was held in the silent places between those things I did describe. Do you remember the bombard? We laughed at the bombard. You said yourself what a silly name it sounds, and the small fat profile of it too, I drew for you in diagram, though what it does is less amusing.
    The petard is a kind of bombard, my dear. They both, being short-barreled armaments, have an anxious tendency to misfire in the inefficient chaos of battle, and explode, and hoist their erstwhile firing users some good measure skyward.
    Not lifted, so much as pushed up, and not a cable or rope in sight but the sound of the exploding powder, and the rush of things in all directions violently out and away.
    I have myself seen a man, a Portugese lieutenant, hoist on his own petard. It is of the type of things not easily forgotten.
    Someone of your discernment and proven respect of the language, this language, which is the only bridge we have between our vastly isolated being, will want to know this, I believe. While one could say "hoist with", as you have, and some few others have, and do, as well, it is inexact, it is imprecise, and it communicates both less and more than what is meant.
    And so abruptly, having finished my small task it is now, with the sense of having fulfilled my obligation to you in this regard, that I return in anticipation to the far more pleasurable duty of reading your tale of seaside adventure through to the end.

    Be well, my dearest friend, and know
    that I am as ever and will be always,
    your devoted servant
    David Trench Addison

  8. Dear Anne, Charlotte and Emily,
    I have sheep named after you. But this is not the purpose of my communication. I would dearly love to hear your august views on the use of second person.

    Rosie Little

  9. Good gracious, this is a very funny and interesting and entertaining blog. How wonderful. I shall return but just at this moment I must go and do useful things: not to the cutlery drawer specifically; more in relation to rounding up our (two) cats for bedtime.

    I really only came here because I was intrigued by the name Pavlov's Cats and then got sidetracked. Maybe I'll just have a peek at that one before doing the cat thing.

  10. Dear Bronte Sisters,

    Can you give me any advice about how to write a book review these days?

  11. If she called herself Mrs Henry Wood, wasn't that the usual way for a married woman to address herself?

  12. That's a thought though, is it still harder to get published as a female? It could very well depend on the topic or genre. Female horror writers for example I doubt would be taken seriously- people would expect it to be more sexy vampires than actually scary. Or, hard sci fi writers- do they understand technology and speculation? Or is it all going to be faster than light travel without explanation?

    On the other hand, if men want to write romance novels...