Celtic Women International

CWI is pleased to be a collaborative partner for Chicago's new Womens Art Series Collective's Womens' History Month Event:
imPerfect Balance:
The Power and Beauty of Creating Balance Out of Trauma

Reading List for imPerfect Balance
a Work in Progress - May It Never End

Biographies, Diaries and Memoirs
Cameron, Julia.Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Cameron presents her simple step-by-step, week-by-week method of ideas leading you to unleash your creativity. In Floor Sample, a follow-up book to Artist's Way, she describes her climb out of alcoholism and psychosis, rescued by the spiritual path she described in Artist's Way. Following her own method, Cameron has written 22 books, plays, screenplays and poetry.

Clarke, Kathleen. Revolutionary Woman: Kathleen Clarke 1878-1972. An Autogiography. (edited by Helen Litton). Following her husband's execution after the 1916 Easter Rebellion, Kathleen Clarke managed all of the Irish Republican Brotherhood funds and coordinated care of the families of those imprisoned or killed.

Duke, Patty. Call Me Anna and Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness. Talented actress Patty Duke has suffered from mental health issues throughout her life. Born to an alcoholic father and mother who suffered from unipolar disorder, she was turned over to her managers who promoted her talent. She was the youngest actress to receive an Academy Award for her portrayal of Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker." Following her turbulent teen years when she was controlled by drugs and alcohol supplied by her manager/caretakers, Duke engaged on a series of failed marriages and unsuccessful therapies. Duke finally found her own "wonder" drug Lithium. She has become an activist for numerous mental health issues and is a spokeswoman for the National Institute of Health.

Gonne, Maud. A Servant of the Queen. English born Irish revolutionary, feminist and actress Maud Gonne was active in Irish Home Rule Activities. She founded Inghinidhe na hEireann ("Daughters of Ireland") in 1900 to provide a home for Irish nationalist women who were considered in the male-dominated nationalist societies of the day. Her husband was executed following the 1916 Easter Rebellion; she herself was imprisoned in England for six months for her nationalist activities. The "queen" in the title refers to Ireland in this auto- biography. ISBN-10:022630512 ISBN-13: 973-022630255

Grumbach, Doris. Coming into the End Zone: A Memoir. Grumbach wrote about aging, recording her thoughts, memories, joys, and fears.

Helbrun, Carolyn G. (Amanda Cross). Writing a Woman's Life. Helbrun felt that biographers and autobiographers have long suppressed the truth of the female experience. Traditional accounts of women tend to omit or underplay facts that don't fit nicely into the expectations of what life should be. Heilbrun suggests new ways to write about women's experiences, biography and autobiography. Writing mysteries as Amanda Cross, she empowers her characters with great insight, thoughtful and intelligent interactions, strong personalities, and at times, very human weaknesses.

Keller, Helen. The Story of My Life. Keller was not quite a year-and-a-half when an illness destroyed both her hearing and sight. The Story of My Life tells the story of the relationship between Keller and Annie Sullivan, the teacher who brought her into the world of education. The book was later made into a The Miracle Worker starring Patty Duke. Keller went on to become a famous speaker, author and advocate for the blind. ISBN-10: 0553213873 ISBN-13: 978-0553213874

Lerner, Betsy. Food and Loathing: A Life Measured Out in Calories. Although written with a lot of humor, Lerner's book will resonate with anyone who has struggled with depression or a compulsive eating disorder as she tackles the "taboo" subject of being overweight. In The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers, Author, editor and literary agent Besty Lerner provides solid advice and inspiration for writers as to how editors think.

Luce, Claire Boothe. Europe in the Spring Although best remembered as a congresswoman, ambassador, playwright, socialite, and spouse of magazine magnate Henry R. Luce of Time-Life-Fortune, lessess familiar is Luce's wartime journalism. Luce's initial encounter with the war in 1940 produced Europe in the Spring, her first non- fiction book.

Nafsi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. A moving testament to art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. Nafsi describes how women were forced to meet in secret to talk, share, and learn. ISBN-10: 081297106X ISBN-13: 978-0812971064

Nin, Anais.The Diary of Anais Nin and "The Early Diaris of Anais Nin. Writer and diariest, born in Paris, of a Catalan father and a Danish mother, Anais spent much of her early years with Cuban relative. Her diaries span nearly her entire life. She is considered one of the finest examples of writers of female erotica.

Pauley, Jane. Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue. A very private person with her own personal life, Pauley disclosed her bipolar disorder around the time of the release of this autobiography. The book tells her story from childhood to her 3-decade career on television. "It was a Saturday morning eight or ten years ago when I began following this impulse to find the answers to unformed questions. Skywriting is what I call my personal process of discovery."

Plath, Sylvia. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (Karen Kukil, Editor and Sylvia Plath, author). Plath's first poem was published when she was only eight years old. While in Smith College, she wrote over 400 poems. Depression troubled her during her junior year The Bell Jar: A Novel. Plath's best known work, The Bell Jar, is a loosely autobiographical novel about the slow emotional collapse of a young woman working for a prestigious New York magazine on a summer internship. The novel was written following her unsuccessful suicide attempt while at Smith. Plath's COLLECTED POEMS was assembled and edited by Ted Hughes and won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

Skinnider, Margaret. Doing My Bit For Ireland. Skinnider was a member of the Glasgow (Scotland) branch of Cummann na mBan, the revolutionary Irishwomen's organization. Wounded three times while participating in the 1916 Irish Rebellion as a sniper and a scout, she deceived the British with her Scots accent into obtaining a special permit to return to Glascow after rebellion. While traveling through the USA, she wrote Doing My Bit for Ireland to promote the republican cause. Union members also remember Skinnider for her fight for the rights of its women members. Whitely, Opal. "Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart" - childhood diary of turn-of-the-century naturalist poet Opal Whitely; this journal is the basis for imPerfect Balance performance piece by Anne Hills. Opal found beauty in the natural world around her and presents it to the reader in a fresh and original way. ISBN-10:0517885166 ISBN-13: 978-0517885161

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women.
Little Women was partially autobiographical, and Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy are representations of Louisa and her sisters Anna, Lizzie, and May. She wrote several novels based on her own experiences including Little Men about her nephews, Joís Boys, and Luluís Libraryfor her niece Lulu, and A Garland for Girls. Alcott wrote many other highly acclaimed works in her time and was an active supporter of the womenís suffrage and abolition movements. She also wrote several books under a pseudonym, A.M. Barnard, such as Behind A Mask or, A Woman's Power.

Andrews, Sarah. Killer Dust. In Andrews' eighth mystery featuring forensic geologist Em Hanson, Andrews perhaps exorcises some from the ghosts of her own experience as the victim of a stalker in a complicated plot about airborn anthrax, national security, and an astronaut threatened by a casual acquaintance. Andrews successfully combines science and suspense in her mysteries as Hanson gradually finds direction in her career and life. Other books include: Earth Colors, , An Eye for Gold, Only Flesh and Bones, Mother Nature and Dry as Dust

Austen, Jane Pride and Prejudice. Austen wrote several novels about domestic provincial English life, including her most famous Pride and Prejudice, one of the first romantic comedies. The novel opens with the famous opening sentence: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Her novels have been described as witty and gently satirical commentaries on the manners of her time and class. Other works include Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion.

Browne, Frances. Granny's Wonderful Chair and the Stories it Told. Blind from birth, the "blind poetess of Donegal." published several volumes of poetry, novels, children's stories, and an autobiography. Granny's Wonderful Chair, published in 1857, is still a cozy "visit to Grandma's" collection today. ISBN-10: 1851497064 ISBN-13: 978-1851497065

Butler, Anne. Weep for the Living. Butler is author of non-fiction books on crime and criminal justice in Louisiana, as well as a series of mysteries featuring bipolar detective Bo Bradley. A victim of a senseless and violent crime herself, she used the experience for the plot in this book, exhibiting a deep abiding compassion for her perpetrator and human interest.

Cather, Willa. O Pioneers!, My Antonia. Cather's family moved to Nebraska when she was nine years old. After unsuccessfully trying farming, her father finally successfully published a local newspaper, a position Cather eventually inherited. She is noted for her stories about immigrants struggling to make a living in the Midwest during the late 1880's in such books as O Pioneers! and My Antonia. Cather's The Song of the Lark is a powerful pseudo-autobiographical self-portrait of the artist herself in the making.

Cross, Amanda - Pseudonym for Helbrun, Carolyn G. Writing mysteries as Amanda Cross, Helbrun empowers fictional English Literature Profession Kate Fanslaw, and her other characters with great insight, thoughtful and intelligent interactions, strong personalities, and at times, very human weaknesses. Lavin, Mary. Happiness. American-born Irish short story writer, Lavin is known for her "impressionistic style," characters who embody the essence of Irish culture and emotion. After the death of her husband left alone to raise their small children, her works such as In the Middle of the Fields began to reflect the loneliness and vulnerabilities of her widowhood.

Macardle, Dorothy. Earthbound. Twice imprisoned for her activities against the Irish Free State, Macardle later published this book of short stories about the military struggle and its effect on women. Her nonfiction The Irish Republic, a detailed account of the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War, is still a standard reference book. Other books she wrote on the republican struggles are Without Fanfares and Tragedies of Kerry. Macardle's novels later in her life were more concerned with occult and extrasensory perception, including Uneasy Freehold which was made into the film The Uninvited.

Oates, Joyce Carol. We Were the Mulvaneys.
Oates's own life was marked by the same chaos, violence, and dark twists of fate that would later beset her fictional characters -- born into poverty in the desolate heart of upstate New York, emotional terrors,and drawn at an early age into an intensely private world of the intellect and imagination.

O'Brien, Edna. The Country Girls Trilogy. Mother Ireland (her memoir). O'Brien's frank portrayal of feminine sexuality in her works depicting both Irish village life during the 1940's and 1950's and contemporary urban settings won her both praise and condemnation. Upon hearing that her first book, The Country Girls was banned in her native Ireland, O'Brien is quoted as saying, "Banning is only the tip of the iceberg... Keeping our psyches closed is the real bogey." O'Brien is further quoted as saying, "When I wrote my second book ("The Lonely Girls"), the opinion was the first was a prayer book by comparison." She later examined the political and personal hatreds against the I.R.A.'s campaign to drive the Brittish from Northern Ireland her The House of Splendid Isolation.

O'Connor, Flannery. Flannery O'Connor: Collected Works: Wise Blood / A Good Man is Hard to Find / The Violent Bear It Away ' Everything that Rises Must Converge / Essays & Letters. Southern writer whose writing shows an uncanny grasp of the nuances of human behavior. A bird lover, she often incorporated images of peacocks into her books. ISBN-10: 0940450372 ISBN-13: 978-0940450370

Oliphant, Margaret Oliphant.The Chronicles of Carlingford. Oliphant produced more than 120 separate works, including novels, books of travel and description, histories and volumes of literary criticism.

Olsen, Tiller.Tell Me a Riddle. Olsen's parents fled the 1905 Russian revolution, first settling on a Nebraska farm, and when it failed, in Omaha. Her mother, illiterate until her mid-twenties, supplied inspiration for Tell Me a Riddle, reflecting on the discrimination and marginalization of women. Olsen's novel Silences records Olsen's experiences when the demands of her life as wage-earner, mother, political activist, housekeeper, and writer forced select one role over the others. She chose to put her children first. "Children need one now (and remember, in our society, the family must often try to be the center for love and health the outside world is not). The very fact that these are real needs, that one feels them as one's own (love, not duty); that there is no one else responsible for these needs, gives them primacy."

Perry, Anne. The Caterstreet Hangman as the first of Perry's popular mysteries featuring London Police Superintendent Thomas Pitt and his adventurous wife, Charlotte. In Caterstreet Hangman, she examines hat happens to people under pressure of investigation, how old relationships and trusts are eroded, and new ones formed. A second popular Perry series features Victorian William Monk to explore other issues. Perry artfully blends history, social commentary and suspense into all of her fiction.

See, Lisa. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Lily at 80 reflects on her life in 19th Century rural China, her lifelong friendship with Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love. See's first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family traces the journey of See's great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame obstacles at every step to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles's Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family. Collecting details for that book inspired her in writing Snow Flower. ISBN-10: 0812968069 ISBN-13: 978-0812968064

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. By the time she was nineteen, Shelly had written this mythological novel, perhaps dramatizing ambivelent feelings about the proto-Victorian ideology of motherhood. When it was published, many expressed doubts that it could have been written by a 19-year old women. ISBN-10: 0801850886 ISBN-13: 978-0801850882

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe's mother died when she was five years old, causing Beecher to feel great empathy, she felt, for slave mothers and children who were separated under slavery. Her family moved to Cincinatti where she gained second-hand knowledge of slavery and the Underground Railroad.

Wharton, Edith. A Backward Glance. Wharton was the first woman to win a Pulitzer prize for The Age of Innocence in 1921, in which she exposed the myths of class. Born to the wealthy New York society, she both enjoyed the life the privileged and exposed it as a moral wasteland in her writing.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. Born the daughter of a Georgia sharecropper, Walker was valedictorian of her class. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and is still actively involved in many causes. Among her many awards, she received the Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Wollstonecraft argued for the creation and preservation of equal rights and opportunities for women. ISBN-10: 0393955729 ISBN-13: 978-0393955729

Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. Woolf, one of the leaders in the literary movement of modernism, used a technique called "stream of consciousness", revealing the lives of her characters by revealing their thoughts and associations. She was also a feminist, socialist, and pacifist who expressed her beliefs in essays such as A Room of One's Own.

Bradstreet, Anne. The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America. The first book written by a woman published in American, Bradstreet's work documents that struggles of a Puritan wife in New England colonial life. ISBN-10: 0781200881 ISBN-13: 978-0781200882

Bogan, Louise. Journey Around My Room. Growing up poor in a family in a dysfunctional family set the stage for Bogan's lifelong depression and periodic breakdowns. Writing about her artistic awakening, "suddenly I recognized something at once simple and full of the utmost richness of design and contrast that was mine." Described as a "poet's poet," Bogan's critical reviews published in the New Yorker magazine were highly regarded, "direct, nonacademic, sharp and particularly insightful." A selection of her New Yorker reviews was published in A Poet's Alphabet: Reflections on the Literary Art and Vocation."

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett.Sonnets from the Portugese.
A product of Victorian England, English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived for years as an invalid dominated by her father. Sonnets from the Portuguese, written after she escaped her father's control, is a set of love poems written for the poet Robert Browning-- who first admired her poetry, then became her friend, and finally her husband.

Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Caroline. Allison's first novel parallels her own life as the child of a 15-year old unwed waitress mother. The novel was a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. Allison has also won numerous awards for her short story collections, in particular Trash and Compassion. Describing how the early Feminist movement changed her, she stated "It was like opening your eyes under water. It hurt, but suddenly everything that had been dark and mysterious became visible and open to change."

Dickinson, Emily. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Described by some as an agoraphobic recluse, Dickinson is regarded as one of the two most important poets of the 19th century. Of the more than 1,700 poems she wrote, only 8 were published during her lifetime. ISBN-10: 0316184136 ISBN-13: 978-0316184137

Gore-Booth, Eva. Death of Fionavar. Born to landed Anglo-Gentry, Gore-Booth was involved in sufferage activities, as well as social causes such marginalised women. Fionavar, written in 1916, was dedicated to "the Many who died for Freedom, and the One who died for Peace," referring to Francis Sheehy Skeffington who was killed by British soldiers during the 1916 rebellion. dedicated to the

Monaghan, Patricia. Homefront: Silenced Voices of War. Patricia intertwines her own story with two Irish myths, "The Story of Mis" and "Mad King Sweeney," at times using medieval Irish poetry styles. ISBN-10: 1933456094 ISBN-13: 978-1933456096

Therapies, Treatments and "How-To's"
Cameron, Julia.Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Cameron presents her simple step-by-step, week-by-week method of ideas leading you to unleash your creativity. In Floor Sample, a follow-up book to Artist's Way, she describes her climb out of alcoholism and psychosis, rescued by the spiritual path she described in Artist's Way. Following her own method, Cameron has written 22 books, plays, screenplays and poetry.

Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Goldberg supplies a philosophy to express what is inside of you.

Levoy, Gregg. The Power of Work as a Calling. Describing one's calling as the place where one's inner gladness meets the world's greatest hunger, Levoy elaborates on how to realign your work with your passion and sense of purpose.

Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run with the Wolves - Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Estes is a poet, psychoanalyst and post-trauma specialist, raised in oral and ethnic traditions. She uses stories to

Raphael, Jody. Saving Bernice: Battered Women, Welfare, and Poverty. Raphael vividly describes Bernice's life as a battered woman and welfare mother, her frustrations with working through various public agencies, and her eventual triumph over her circumstances. ISBN-10:1555534384 ISBN-13: 978-1555534378

Patterson, Kerry; Grenny, Joseph; McMillan, Ron; and Switzler, Al. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High. Offers a proven seven-point strategy for achieving goals in those emotionally, psychologically, or legally charged situations that can arise in their professional and personal lives. ISBN-10: 0071401946 ISBN-13: 978-0071401944

Movies, Play, Screenplays & Music
Ni Ghrada, Mairead. An Trail. Native Gaelic speaker Ni Ghrada's plays such as Micheal, winner of an Abbey Theatre award, featured strong roles for young women and explored women's issues. An Triail was based an incident from her childhood involving the victimization of a young pregnant single girl where the man involved escaped condemnation. Although best known for her plays, she also wrote short stories, children's stories, and was the first woman radio announcer in Ireland and Britain.

O'Reilly, Jamie. Songs of the Kerry Madwoman. The songs from this "song cycle" tell the story of Mis, a quasi-historical woman of Kerry who went insane after seeing her father killed in battle, and then cured of her madness by the music of a harpist. The beautiful lyrics of the song cycle were written by Patricia Monaghan using medieval Irish poetry styles. The music was composed by singer/songwriter Michael Smith. O'Reilly is features on the vocals.

Hill, Anne. Beauty Attends: The Heartsongs of Opal Whiteley . Delightful portions of naturalist poet Opal Whitely's childhood diary were beautifully put to music composed by singer/songwriter Michael Smith and sung by folksinger Anne Hills.

Cahill, Susan.Women Write: A Mosaic Of Women's Voices in Fiction, Poetry, Memoir and Essay: A Mosaic Of Women's Voices in Fiction, Poetry, Memoir and Essay. Collection of works by some of the most brilliant and prominent women writers. ISBN-10: 0451211219 ISBN-13: 978-0451211217

O'Ceirin, Kit & Cyril. Women of Ireland: A Biographic Dictionary. This is a true "eye-opener" for even those familiar with some of the more recent powerful Irish women. It remedies what historian Margaret Ward referred to as the "collective amnesia" when it comes to inclusion of women in Irish history.

Please send your suggestions for additions to this Reading List to editor@celticwomen.org.

More details about the imPerfect Balance and WASC.

Collaborative Partners: Celtic Women International, Institute of Art Therapies, Chicago, Still Point Theatre Collective, and the Irish American Heritage Center Library.

Send mail to editor@celticwomen.org with questions or comments about this web site.
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Last modified: September 5, 2005