Woman Inspired! | Stella Gibbons and Carson McCullers

One of my favorite bookish swap series to host is “Literary Wisdom” on swap-bot. Through the swaps, participants select a bookish postcard and write on the back a quote which inspires them. The quote must come from imaginative literature (poetry, prose, plays)–not sacred texts, self-help books, or non-fiction. For Women’s History Month, I decided to dedicate the swaps to women writers, since, unsurprisingly, male writers often dominate the swaps.

I created swaps for the Cup and Chaucer and Book Lovers Congregate groups. Lucky me! My randomly chosen partner for both swaps was Geraldine J (Nannydino). I always enjoy receiving postcards from Geraldine. Not only are the postcards well-selected with my varied interests and tastes in mind but the presentation of the written side of the postcard is always clean and inviting–very neat handwriting and unique placement of stickers, stamps, and postage. Somehow, Geraldine packs a lot of information on the 4×6 postcard backs, always including the date and weather.  Bonus–we have some of the same postcard collections so I get back the very postcards I love.

Now, for the literary inspiration:

Stella Gibbons (1902-1989). Photograph, Mark Gerson/National Portrait Gallery, London

Stella Gibbons was a British writer with poetry, short stories, and 25 novels to her credit. The inspired quote Geraldine chose to share comes from her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm, which is a parody of the “loam and lovechild” rural genre.

Every year, in the fulness o’ summer, when the sukebind hangs heavy from the wains. . .’tes the same. And when the spring comes her hour is upon her again … ‘Tes the hand of Nature and we women cannot escape it.

What seems to be most inspiring here–besides the hilarious novel itself–is “sukebind,” a word Gibbons coined. According to the Oxford English Dictionary “sukebind” is an “imaginary plant associated with superstition, fertility, and intense rustic passion.”

Check out two of The Guardian‘s reviews of Cold Comfort Farm:

If you’re interested in reading the novel, you should have no problems borrowing it from many of the e-libraries.

Carson McCullers (1917-1967). Photograph, Bettman/Corbis

Carson McCullers, born Lula Carson Smith, also wrote in many genres–plays, essays, short stories, poetry, and (of course) novels. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, her debut [though not first] novel (at the age of 23), remains her most popular work.

The inspiration Geraldine shared actually comes from McCullers’ commentary on her characters. “She felt her characters powerfully, once stating:”

I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen.

And one of the inspired quotes form The Heart is a Lonely Hunter:

My advice to you is this. Do not attempt to stand alone. …The most fatal thing a man can do is try to stand alone.”

For more about Carson and her works, see the links below:

The postcards come from the collection, Postcards from Penguin Modern Classics: One Hundred Writers in One Box. I actually have the collection and mentioned it [or its lack of diversity] in a post on Eileen Chang. Despite the shortcomings of the collection, the photographs are stunning, and I’m happy to have two of the women writers “return” to me

Before I go, I leave you with a little homework. On the back of the McCullers postcard was an equally stunning fierce and inspiring woman postage stamp–featuring Elsie MacGill. If you don’t know who she is, you must do a little “research” and come back and report [in the comments] three things you’ve learned about her.

Until next time…

9 thoughts on “Woman Inspired! | Stella Gibbons and Carson McCullers

  1. Geraldine Johnston says:

    Elsie MacGill nicknamed “Queen of the Hurricanes,” she organized mass production of the aircraft” the Hawker Hurricane” that saved Britain from the Nazis in 1940.
    She fought for women’s rights, including decriminalization of abortion.
    She was the first woman in North America to hold a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering and the first woman aircraft designer in the world
    It was very interesting to read about this woman, such an incredible life.
    Thanks for the homework Chandra ❤ from Canada

    Liked by 2 people

  2. louise237 says:

    I enjoyed my homework, Chandra. I heard and learned about Elsie MacGill long time ago 😉 She and I have 2 common points: we have been to Longueil, Quebec Province, Canada and are both aeronautical engineers, but I didn’t design any aircraft (lol) just worked on landing gears and so on… She was a smart and awesome lady. Am not at all being fussy, just saying things. Thank you for allowing me to look back and read about this personnage! Stay safe and take care my friend. I hope my card reached you? Big hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chandra Lynn says:

      Wow, Louise! I didn’t know your training is in aeronautical engineering. That is so cool! I’m sure that training is partly what makes you a great photographer. You are an A for your homework! The collage card with the well-dressed gentleman? Yes, I did receive that one some time ago. I’m sorry. I thought I messaged you when I received it. It’s actually on the “to be blogged” list. Thank you! I love it so much it’s also on my “to be imitated” list. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sheila Marie Delgado says:

    Thank you for the introductions, Chandra. 🙂 I am consistently amazed, but how many amazing women, have done incredible things. Women I never learned about in school. (Don’t get me started. LOL) I recently watch Netflix’s Madame C.J.Walker. My mother was a stylist and owned two salons, so it holds a special interest for me. So glad to be learning about these women now! Glad their stories are being told!

    Liked by 2 people

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