20 April 2017 Susannah

Mothers in Literature – Recommended Reading

There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Project Gutenberg’s Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories, by Various.

Suggested reading list for

MOTHERS IN LITERATURE — A reflection on fictional mothers

I love to recommend books that I’ve read and enjoyed, so here’s my list of great reading about mothers.

Some authors have written very memorably of their own mothers. J.M. Barrie published Margaret Ogilvy in 1896. His mother lost her eldest and favourite son, and poor James spent his life trying to make up for the lost boy who was his brother.

   Margaret Ogilvy by James Matthew Barrie

The fabulous comic writer E.F. Benson, author of the hilarious Lucia novels, wrote a book about his gay mother who was miserably married to Benson’s father, who was also Archbishop of Canterbury. His book is Mother and it was published in 1925.

   Queen Lucia by E. F. Benson
   Mother by E. F. Benson

A wonderful biography has been written of Mary Benson, that same mother – As Good as God, As Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Benson by Rodney Bolt (published 2011). And there is Colm Toibín’s new collection of essays, New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and their Families.

   As Good as God, As Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Benson by Rodney Bolt
   New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and their Families by Colm Toibín

Other ‘mother memoirs’ include The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr, The Good Daughter: A Memoir of my Mother’s Hidden Life by Jasmin Darznik (about an Iranian woman’s search for her mother’s story), Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son’s Memoir by David Rieff (who is Susan Sontag’s son), and The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls. Margaret Drabble waited until her mother had died before she published a thinly disguised fictional portrait of her in The Peppered Moth, while Jeanette Winterson gave a devastating depiction of her evangelical mother in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and in her memoir Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal?

   The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
   The Good Daughter, My Mother’s Hidden Life by Jasmin Darznik
   Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son’s Memoir by David Rieff
   The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
   The Peppered Moth by Margaret Drabble
   Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
   Why be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

For more literary critical reading, you could try Beyond the Myths: Mother-Daughter Relationships in Psychology, History, Literature and Everyday Life by Dr Shelley Phillips.

   Beyond the Myths. Mother-Daughter Relationships – In Psychology, History, Literature and Everyday Life by Dr Shelley Phillips

I only recommend books I have read and know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.

Listen to this gorgeous reading of A.A. Milne’s Disobedience, by the mysterious ‘Tom O’Bedlam’.

Do you know of other memorable ‘mothers in literature’?. Please let me know in the comment area below.

 

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Featured image credit- There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Project Gutenberg’s Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories, by Various. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19993/19993-h/19993-h.htm

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