Friday, July 17, 2009


Welcome to the place where great women literary writers and their creations meet with girls' series books and their authors on level ground, neither one privileged over the other.

For starters, what do you think of my banner of portraits? Donna Parker, square dancing, and Nancy Drew, sleuthing, are such active, dynamic figures compared to the static portraits of Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. Yet, in Jane and Emily's distant eyes and intelligent faces, we can see that there's a good deal going on.

Perhaps I should have found images of Elizabeth Bennett and Catherine Earnshaw to complement Donna Parker and Nancy Drew. Or perhaps I should have juxtaposed pictures of Lizzy and Cathy with photos of Donna Parker's author "Marica Martin," (Marcia Lauter Obrasky Levin) and Nancy Drew's "Carolyn Keene," (most famously, Mildred Wirt Benson). But the images I chose are iconic and immediately recognizable. They also reflect the reality that a series' protagonist becomes its chief signifier.

I'm not going to (at least not yet) provide lists of books and plot summaries, as these can be found on other sites. I do want however, to jump "in media res" to what's been going on my life with these beloved gals on the banner. First, over the past two days I've had contact with both Marcia Levin's daughter and her husband (Marica, sadly, died a few years ago) in conjunction with an article I'm writing about dining out in Donna Parker. It's been an exciting sleuthing job for me to uncover the "real" restaurants described in the books, and a thrill to speak with and e-mail people related to Marcia Martin. As a child, I never would have dreamed I could get so close to such an exalted personage! To make it all even better, they were both gracious people and delighted to find an interest in the Donna Parker series.

Second, I'm reading a book about Emily Bronte by Katherine Frank called "A Chainless Soul: A life of Emily Bronte." It purports that Emily was anoxeric, a theory that's so far ... just a theory, but I am finding the book a lively and entertaining read all the same.

Anyway, this is a huge question and one that will dance under the whole blog as time goes on: what do these various figures, literary and real, have in common? What links Elizabeth Bennett and Nancy Drew or Jane Austen and Marcia Levin? How did all of these characters, real and created, help to form us?


  1. Here is what impresses me: the intensity shown in the banner portraits of Nancy Drew and Emily Bronte. But who is Donna Parker? I'm afraid I have never heard of her.

  2. Donna Parker is the heroine of a series of seven books written by Marcia Martin between 1957-1964. Donna moves from age 13 to 15 during the books and has many adventures along the way in the town of Summerville, NJ as well as in Hollywood, in New York, as a camp counselor, etc. Each book also has mysteries woven into the narrative, although these are not the focus of the books. The focus is Donna's gradual maturing into a person who can accept ambiguity, and I think that these books and books like them prepare girls (especially) to read author's like Austen and Bronte. I include Donna on my banner as she is a particular object of interest for me right now, but I don't want to limit the blog to just the banner figures.

  3. Dear Diane,

    I read your letter and now your blog. I linked it to mine. I had never heard of Donna Parker either, but I like your idea of dwelling on great women literary writers who helped build your world. On my old blog I wrote a couple of times about the importance of girls' books to girls -- f0r me these included Judy Bolton, Charlotte Bronte, biographies even when I was young, and Austen from the time I was 12-13. Among the first "grown" up books I read was Gone with the Wind and I used to know scenes by heart.

    Thank you for joining WWTTA,

  4. Hi Ellen,

    Glad to see you here and thanks for the link.