by Lesley McDowell - £16.99 Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (2010)
hardback ISBN 13: 9780715639092 | ISBN 10: 0715639099
Why did a gifted writer like Sylvia Plath stumble into a marriage that drove her to suicide? Why did Hilda Doolittle want to marry Ezra Pound when she was attracted to women? Why did Simone De Beauvoir pimp for Jean-Paul Satre? The list of the damages done in each of these sexual relationships between female writers and their male literary partners is long, but each relationship provokes the same question: would these women have become the writers they became without the experience of their own particular literary relationship?
Focusing on the diaries, letters, and journals of each woman, Between the Sheets explores nine famous literary liaisons of the twentiety century. Lesley McDowell examines the extent to which each woman was prepared to put artistic ambition before personal happiness, and how dependent on their male writing partners these women felt themselves to be. She probles the consequences of the women's codependence and reveals how, in many instances, their partnerships liberated unspoken desires, encouraged artistic innovations, and even shored up literary reputations. Fascinating and absorbing, Between the Sheets is a marvelous read and an invaluable addition to the literature of feminism.
(Price & availability last checked: December 2018)