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Literary Spouses

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"Behind every good man is a good woman" is a common saying, but when it comes to literature, the relationship between spouses is even more complex.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and D. H. Lawrence used their marriages for literary inspiration and material, sometimes at the expense of their spouse's sanity.  Thomas Carlyle wanted his wife to assist him, but Jane Carlyle became increasingly bitter and resentful in her new role, putting additional strain on their relationship.

In Russian literary marriages, however, the wives of some of the most famous authors of all time did not resent taking a 'secondary position', although to call their position secondary does not do justice to the vital role these women played in the creation of some of the greatest literary works in history.  From Sophia Tolstoy to Vera Nabokov, Elena Bulgakov, Nadezdha Mandelstam, Anna Dostoyevsky, and Natalya Solzhenitsyn, these women ranged from stenographers and typists to editors, researchers, translators, and even publishers.

Living under restrictive regimes, many of these women battled censorship and preserved the writers' illicit archives, often risking their own lives to do so.  They established a tradition all their own, unmatched in the West.  In The Wives: The Women Behind Russian's Literary Giants, you will learn about how many of these women were their author husband's intellectual companions and made invaluable contributions to the creative process. 

For additional titles which tell the inside stories of the lives of the spouses of literary greats, click here for an Authors' Spouses Booklist.

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Paris Without End: the True Story of Hemingway's first Wife


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Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser


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Sometimes Madness is Wisdom: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald: a Marriage


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Travels with Farley by Claire Mowat


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The Tale of the Rose: the Passion that Inspired The Little Prince