Famous today as the overlooked illustrator of the influential Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck, in her own time Pamela Colman Smith was something of an enigma. Known for her lively and enchanting Jamaican folklore performances, her publishing press and literary magazine, and for her extraordinary miniature theatre, Pamela – Pixie to her friends – wove magical worlds where women had agency and gender was fluid. But she was also a woman cloaked in mystery, and who was often Othered by her contemporaries. Join us, together with PCS scholar Elizabeth Foley O’Connor, as we travel from England to Jamaica, New York and Cornwall, tracing this elusive and enigmatic woman.
This week we teamed up with Kendra and Autumn of Reading Women to get spooky and chat all things Shirley Jackson, the queen of horror. From her unhappy childhood as the unwanted daughter of aspiring socialites, to her equally unhappy marriage to the philandering Stanley Hymen, we investigate how the demons of domesticity and anxiety (and a dose of a love for the occult) primed her to become one of the greatest gothic horror writers of all time. We then dive into her masterful short story, ‘The Lottery’, and geek out about the new adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House. So grab your favourite dog-eared Jackson paperback, and settle in for Halloween and Day of the Dead with the four of us!
In our second interview of season two we are lucky enough to be joined by multi-award winning author, Hannah Kent. Based on the true story of the last person to be executed in Iceland, Hannah’s international bestseller, Burial Rites, follows the last days of the accused murderess, Agnes Magnusdottir, while her second novel, The Good People, examines the lives of three very different women caught up in the world of Irish folklore and superstition.
In our first interview of season two, (and the launch of a new special series!) we sat down with author Margot McGovern to chat all things YA: from the emergence of ‘unlikable’ female protagonists (and why they’re so irresistible) to the power of transforming myths of masculine adventure for girls, we delved deep into the gender dynamics of the world’s fastest growing literary genre.
In Neverland, Margot’s own feisty and – let’s be honest – bratty heroine Kit must navigate her return to her island home-turned-boarding school and its troubled teenage inhabitants, the depths of lust and attraction, not to mention the treacherous waters of her family’s tragic past and her own history of self-harm. We like our heroines complicated, and Kit Learmouth doesn’t disappoint, so grab yourself a map and join us for our first dive into the waters of YA.
After leaving her home at the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota for the brutal regiment of boarding school in the east, Zitkála-Šá began developing the creative talents and political consciousness that would make her one of the most influential Native American women of the 20th Century. Her acclaimed stories and essays chronicled her struggles with identity and culture, and her translations brought Native American legends to a whole new audience. All the while, she maintained a subversive rebellious spirit that lit the flames of her later activism. So join us as we traverse prairies and plains with one who knows them best, Zitkála-Šá.
A disguised princess forced into domestic drudgery who meets a prince at an extravagant ball might sound familiar, but there’s more to Juleidah’s version of the tale. After escaping the illicit desires of her father, this Egyptian princess dons a suit of leather and travels to a nearby kingdom, hiding out as the scullery maid and Queen’s jester. Come with us to a mythical land as we explore Cinderella’s lesser known cousin, ‘The Princess in the Suit of Leather’.
In the humid tropics of 1920s Townsville, Lizzy O’Dea became infamous in the local tabloids for shooting her rival. As the press continued to sensationalise her adventures, notoriety for her petty theft and sexual exploits grew. Join us as we chat with author Ariella Van Luyn, whose novel Treading Air follows Lizzy from bookie’s daughter in Brisbane to working girl at the Causeway Hotel, about researching the life of one of history’s hidden women, and why such stories continue to be relevant to us today.
In 1984 author Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale: the chilling dystopic story of Offred, a woman trying to survive in a world where women have been reduced to their procreative functions. Since its publication, the novel has been turned into a film, an opera, a ballet, and most recently into a Hulu television series. Join us as we pair up with Justin from Mayday: The Handmaid’s Tale Podcast to unpack just what it is about Atwood’s vision that seems so compelling, and so relevant, over thirty years later.
Witty, subversive, and unafraid to offend, author Angela Carter wrote fiction and non-fiction that dealt with sexuality and gender, and that often probed the boundaries of good taste. Join us as we open the book on some of Carter’s best known work and the women she writes.