Mosaic

Take Home: Four great literary partnerships

We often think of great writers as solitary figures, but many would not have achieved what they did without help. Four faculty members from the Department of English share their picks for great literary partnerships.

1. George Eliot (Marian Lewes) and George Henry Lewes.

She dedicated Middlemarch to him and they each claimed to be the oppressive stick-in-the-mud Casaubon to the other's saintly idealistic Dorothea, which sounds like the definition of a mutually admiring, supportive—and realistic—working relationship. They were also Victorian rebels who lived in beautifully committed sin for 24 years until Lewes's death in 1878.
- Sonja Nikkila

2. William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft.

They both produced great works of literature and political philosophy. They also produced a daughter—Mary Godwin Shelley—an important writer in her own right who herself partnered with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
- Anne Milne

3. Henry James and Theodora Bosanquet.

Bonsanquet was James’s amanuensis (James preferred this word to “secretary”). He dictated his work to her starting around 1907, and insisted that she understood what he was saying much better than her predecessors. Was her role simply passive, or did she help shape the words coming out of James’s mouth before they made it to the page? A keen reader with a literary turn of mind, Bosanquet at the very least functioned at times as his editor.
- Alice Maurice

4. Virginia and Leonard Woolf.

Leonard kept close watch over Virginia’s level of fatigue to stave off nervous collapse (evidenced by his daily journal keeping hourly track of how she seemed to be doing) and gave her the support she needed to complete her novels. Together, they ran the Hogarth Press, which first published T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land and many of the first English translations of Freud’s works.
- Garry Leonard