Shaggy Muses: The Dogs Who Inspired Emily Brontë,

Shaggy Muses: The Dogs Who Inspired Emily Brontë, Move over Marley Make room for Carlo Emily Dickinson s giant Newfoundland Or Flush Elizabeth Barrett Browning s golden cocker spaniel Or, maybe, Keeper Emily Bronte s intimidating mastiff mix In self contained chapters of Shaggy Muses, the work of each author is viewed intimately within the context of the canine companions who provided love, comfort and inspirationElizabeth Taylor, Literary Editor, The Chicago Tribune With this book, Adams has created a niche that will thrill those who love literature, biography and dogsBark MagazineDog lovers and literary groupies alike will adore SHAGGY MUSES BookpageThese concise biographies are affecting and engaging Kirkus Reviews Written with lively, accessible prose, this absorbing, wholly unique book is a must read for literature and dog lovers alike Booklist Lovers of both dogs and classic writers will identify with this sweet, quirky book Publishers WeeklyAn intimate look into the lives of famous women authors whose lives were difficult than we would ever have imagined Their dogs helped them to survive and create their great works of classic English literature Lovers of literature and all of those interested in the human animal bond should read this fascinating book Temple Grandin , author of Animals in TranslationI so enjoyed SHAGGY MUSES It manages very successfully to bring into focus exactly why these dogs were important to these writers an intriguing mixture of providing some with confidence, some with love, some with protection and all of them with a curious sense of identification with another spirit which, sometimes, fuelled their writing No mean feat Margaret Forster, author of Elizabeth Barrett Browning The Life and Loves of a Poet Adams, a clinical psychologist, explores the many roles companions, objects of affection, witnesses, protectors, guides these dogs played in their owners lives and their appearances in their work How charming to visualize delicate Emily Dickinson with amiable Carlo, her Newfoundland, living their lives in Amherst, or Edith Wharton, traveling through Europe with her Pekes The Times Picayune Adams, an English professor turned clinical psychologist, shows verve and just the right amount of playfulness Deftly, she places these furry inspirations into the environments that nurtured and restricted their th and th century mistresses The result are five entertaining and insightful minibiographies, exquisite as the th century miniature of Barrett Browning and her lapdog Flush included in the text The Cleveland Plain Dealer These stories based on diaries, letters and contemporary accounts with several photographs, many told here for the first time reveal intimate details and new perspectives on these giants of English and American literature, made even memorable by Adams lively writing The Providence Journal Shaggy Muses is readable and interestingfull of facts and insights Adams goes beyond the superficial and provides real information The Oregonian Adams writes these concise biographies with intelligence, verve and tenderness, and her background in literature and psychology makes her uniquely qualified She does not avert her gaze from each of her subject s troubles but rather shows how each became a greater writer partially through unconditional canine friendship and devotion Times Dispatch You ll call this sentimental perhaps but then a dog somehow represents the private side of life, the play side, Virginia Woolf confessed to a friend And it is this private, playful side, the richness and power of the bond between five great women writers and their dogs, that Maureen Adams celebrates in this deeply engaging book In Shaggy Muses, we visit Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Flush, the golden Cocker Spaniel who danced the poet away from death, back to life and human love We roam the wild Yorkshire moors with Emily Bront , whose fierce Mastiff mix, Keeper, provided a safe and loving outlet for the writer s equally fierce spirit We enter the creative sanctum of Emily Dickinson, which she shared only with Carlo, the gentle, giant Newfoundland who soothed her emotional terrors We mingle with Edith Wharton, whose ever faithful Pekes warmed her lonely heart during her restless travels among Europe and America s social and intellectual elite We are privileged guests in the fragile universe of Virginia Woolf, who depended for emotional support and sanity not only on her human loved ones but also on her dogs, especially Pinka a gift from her lover, Vita Sackville West a black Cocker Spaniel who became a strong, bright thread in the fabric of Virginia and Leonard Woolf s life togetherBased on diaries, letters, and other contemporary accounts and featuring many illustrations of the writers and their dogs these five miniature biographies allow us unparalleled intimacy with women of genius in their hours of domestic ease and inner vulnerability Shaggy Muses also enchants us with a pack of new friends Flush, Keeper, Carlo, Foxy, Linky, Grizzle, Pinka, and all the other devoted canines who loved and served these great writers Perceptive accounts of the relationship between dogs and the women authors Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf Adams capsulizes the writing careers of these women and notes their devotion to various dogs in their lives as well as the many references in their writings I liked the chapters on Bronte and Dickinson the most Dickinson in particular relied on her Newfoundland Carlo who accompanied her for 16 years She was devastated by his de Perceptive accounts of the relationship between dogs and the women authors Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf Adams capsulizes the writing careers of these women and notes their devotion to various dogs in their lives as well as the many references in their writings I liked the chapters on Bronte and Dickinson the most Dickinson in particular relied on her Newfoundland Carlo who accompanied her for 16 years She was devastated by his death and never owned another dog Anyone interested in literature and dogs would appreciate this book The short review A pleasant overview of several important female writers and their canine companions If you re not a dog person, you still won t be one after reading this book, but you may understand them a little better, even if you still think they re insane because they are.The details Bear in mind that this was written by a woman whose idea of trauma is being wealthy, happily married, and the mother of two normal, well adjusted children, and then moving from Kansas City, Missouri to Son The short review A pleasant overview of several important female writers and their canine companions If you re not a dog person, you still won t be one after reading this book, but you may understand them a little better, even if you still think they re insane because they are.The details Bear in mind that this was written by a woman whose idea of trauma is being wealthy, happily married, and the mother of two normal, well adjusted children, and then moving from Kansas City, Missouri to Sonoma, California I am not wealthy and am stuck in a city I can t stand and can t afford to leave, so I m in no position to sympathize with this kind of problem Specifically, my response to the autobiographical introduction to this book was to feel pretty sure that I d read incorrectly and that Maureen Adams had actually been traumatized by having to move from the beautiful wine country of California to, no offense, freakin Missouri Which I m sure is absolutely lovely, but I m also pretty sure there s a reason you can still buy a huge house there for well under six digits, whereas just visiting Sonoma can set you back seven.Anyway Once the reader gets past the terrifying tale of being forced to move to a place so beautiful people are willing to pay big bucks to take even a brief vacation there, the book is an enjoyable enough read I admire all the writers Maureen Adams discusses in fact, they re all authors I singled out for study at some point in my reading career It was great fun revisiting Emily Bront s relationship with her huge dog Keeper, and learning additional details of the London dognappers who did such a brisk trade in ransoming the pets of the wealthy during Elizabeth Barrett Browning s life there with her beloved Cocker Spaniel, Flush.I have to ding this book a couple of stars, though, because Adams gets a lot wrong when it comes to Emily Dickinson When I saw Dickinson included on the list of women who, according to Adams, were inspired by their pet dogs, I thought, Wow That s strange All the biographies I ve read so far have hardly said a thing about Dickinson s dog It turns out there s a reason for that Dickinson s relationship with her dog just wasn t all that intense, especially compared with the bonds between the other writers and their canine companions She loved Carlo, and she mentioned him in her letters, and dogs certainly pop up in a few of her poems but she loved almost all animals saving cats , and she wrote farpoems about birds than dogs Heck, she talks about mice in several of her poems, and you don t see anyone writing a book called Mouse as Muse Vermin in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson Which is a shame I would read that so hard.Anyway Adams flubs a lot of facts in the section of this book devoted to Dickinson, which really makes me wonder what I didn t catch in the other chapters Some of these mistakes are fairly inconsequential It doesn t matter much that the book Emily and her brother Austin hid from their father in the piano not the bench, Ms Adams wasn t Ik Marvel s Reveries of a Bachelor but Henry Wadsworth Longfellow s novel Kavanagh Then again, maybe it matters a little Kavanagh is the story of a friendship between two women so intense that some reviewers have insisted their love was an erotic one I read it I yawned But I digress Many writers have speculated about whether or not Dickinson was erotically attracted to women, based on letters she wrote that sound an awful lot like the conversations between the young women in Kavanagh.There are larger mistakes than this, however Adams describes Dickinson moving with her family to a house they called the Homestead She claims this was a traumatic move from her first home Actually, the Homestead was Dickinson s first home She was born there She lived there with her family for about a decade Then she and her family moved down the street and then, about a decade later, her father was able to purchase the house that not only had once belonged to Emily s grandfather, but that had been built by him Yes, the move back to this home was undoubtedly an unsettling one to Dickinson but any move is unsettling, and describing this as the first move of her life to a house she d never known is incorrect and highly misleading.Equally misleading is Adams assertion that Dickinson used the death of her dog Carlo as an excuse not to take a trip to see a friend In response to some question from Thomas Wentworth Higginson, perhaps his oft repeated urging You must come down to Boston sometimes All ladies do, Emily reminded Higginson that she was still mourning her dog Thank you, I wish for Carlo First of all, the standard collection of Dickinson s letters leaves no doubt that Higginson was indeed inviting her to come to see him in Boston, so it s odd that Adams would present this as a perhaps Second, Dickinson made no such reply She did say Thank you, I wish for Carlo in the letter in question but only after her real refusal to visit Boston, which was phrased thus I must omit Boston Father prefers so He likes me to travel with him but objects that I visit.The fact that Adams twists the facts to fit her own ideas makes this book a lightweight and not entirely reliable overview, rather than the insightful study it might have been The end of the chapter about Dickinson is awkwardly abrupt because it has to be to suit Adams purposes Carlo died twenty years before Dickinson did, and Adams needs Carlo to besignificant than he really was, so she closes by suggesting, The last twenty years of Emily s life were quiet Excuse me, but they weren t Not anyquiet than the rest of her life had been, anyway Those last two decades included the one confirmed romance of Dickinson s life a relationship so tender and passionate that her sister in law didn t want to cross the street to pay a visit in case she caught Emily on the sofa in the arms of her suitor AGAIN The man in question s niece later accused Dickinson of being a hussy and chasing all the men I love that so much Those years also included her brother engaging in an extramarital affair that would directly impact how and when Dickinson s poetry was posthumously published More about that in another review That affair was conducted in Emily Dickinson s very own flippin house, during the day Hey, her brother couldn t go to his own house his wife was there And he couldn t have liaisons with his lover at night how would it lookSo he met his mistress several times a month at the Homestead, and, um, visited with her while Dickinson sat upstairs trying to write poetry, or possibly plugging her ears and saying LALALALALA Maybe both at the same time, which would explain why she wrote so comparatively few poems in those last few years.I m not saying any of this belongs in an essay about Dickinson and her dog I m saying, stop implying, for authorial convenience, that Dickinson s life was boring and uneventful after her dog died.I did enjoy the chapters about the other writers, especially Emily Bront and Edith Wharton But the afterword, The Dogs, is intensely annoying, in part because once again Adams makes up facts Like this one Unlike other domesticated animals such as cows, sheep, or horses dogs made the first move toward living with people This occurred when a wolf ancestor, a bit less wary than other wolves, discovered it was easier to survive on food discarded by humans than to hunt.I don t remember there being a consensus on that And Adams doesn t cite a source So I call shenanigans That might be what happened, but it might not Putting a hypothesis forward as a fact is not cool.I do think this is a valuable book because the short biographies of each writer include a lot of engaging quotes that are sure to pique the reader s interest in learningabout that author s life and work Full points to Maureen Adams for that But maybe try a little harder to get the facts right next time, please Loved this little book It has five excellent condensed biographies, of all women authors who have a human dog bond They relied on their devoted dogs to help them through difficult times andFirst was Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her dog, Flush which was the subject for Woolf s book I haven t read her biography and I was shocked at how limited her life was before she got Flush That dog made it possible for her to leave her home, marry and have a full life Emily Bronte and her d Loved this little book It has five excellent condensed biographies, of all women authors who have a human dog bond They relied on their devoted dogs to help them through difficult times andFirst was Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her dog, Flush which was the subject for Woolf s book I haven t read her biography and I was shocked at how limited her life was before she got Flush That dog made it possible for her to leave her home, marry and have a full life Emily Bronte and her dog, Keeper, was an interesting relationship Emily saw Keeper as a reflection of her own nature Both refused to be dominated or to accommodate others expectations In the end, Emily taught Keeper who was dominate and he was faithful even after her death Emily Dickinson suffered greatly from anxiety Her father decided that she needed a big dog to make her feel safe And he purchased a Newfoundland dog and she named him Carlo In her 20s Emily had terrible pain in her eyes rheumatic iritis which made her intolerant to light, but she had Carlo by her side She even put Carlo in her Master Letters Edith Wharton had a lonely life and a distant, loveless mother As a young girl, she survived typhoid fever which shows how strong she was Later she married a man who did not love her But late in life finally had a loving relationship But after that relationship ended, Edith found that she was very lonely She loved dogs and they became her constant companions, especially Foxy, Linky and all the dogs inbetween.Last, Virginia Woolf was also one who needed many dogs over the years to help her with her mental illness The author retraced Woolf s walks over the Sussex downs Both she and her husband Leonard knew the how important it was for her to have a dog Virginia relied on Gurth, Grizzle and Pink This was one of the most satisfying, fascinating pieces of non fiction I ve read in a while Well written and well researched.

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