Scribbling Women
by Marthe Jocelyn


Tundra Books, 2011. ISBN 978-0-887-76952-8.
Reviewed by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
Posted on 04/07/2011

Nonfiction: History/Current Events

Where do you like to do your writing? I prefer anywhere that's quiet—especially cemeteries (sounds creepy, but there's usually nobody that's going to bother you). It's always interesting to me where others like to "scribble."

Scribbling Women will tell you about eleven of the thousands of women who wrote poetry, letters, books, travel journals, essays, and diaries in intriguing places. Some of them had chronicled or changed the world around them—all of them were astonishing.

Where and when had these girls and women found time to put words down on paper? A few depended on writing for part of their livelihood, but most had plenty of other things to consume their days—waiting on royalty, serving a sentence in a penal colony, sailing on a whaling ship, enduring slavery, creating an orderly home & formulating recipes, visiting cannibal tribes, exposing child abuse & prejudice against women, writing a best seller at 14, surviving blizzards in the Arctic, performing surgery in a war zone, running away in the outback... and much more. These stories took place from the tenth to the twentieth century.

The good news about this book is that if you love short stories, this will satisfy your curiosity about women who took life into their own hands and ran with it. The only problem is that I want to know more about them because I am fascinated by how they did so much living and still found time to write.

Jocelyn's women would probably be surprised to find themselves featured in a book, especially since in 1855 Nathaniel Hawthorne made a point of complaining about the irritating fad of "scribbling women." We should be grateful to all of the women who ignored this comment and wrote and about their lives.

What would you write about your life? It's probably an interesting story. Get scribbling...


Marthe Jocelyn is the award-winning author and illustrator of over twenty books. She has won the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work. She lives in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. For more information, visit her website.

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