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Women of Letters With Jane Flanagan

Jun 29, 2011

by janeflan handmade and vintage goods

Jane Flanagan is an Irish journalist and blogger, now living in Toronto, Canada. Her blog Ill Seen, Ill Said (named after a work of short fiction by Samuel Beckett) is a showcase of Jane’s passions, from design and fashion to poetry, books and philosophy. Posts include a weekly installment of inspiring women from history and present day. Jane also recently launched a webshop called Coterie — a natural extension of her blog style.

This collection is inspired by some of my favourite female writers. Both their work and their personal style carry a strong visual note that speaks to the era they wrote in, as well as their outlook. And while it’s unlikely that any of us would adopt the style of these writers verbatim, I like the idea of including a little nod, in your home or your wardrobe, to a favourite writer, character or book.

[Clockwise from top left: You Are So Jane Greeting Card from Janet Hill INK; Miss Austen Gauntlets, cotton and soya from Inner WildJane Austen Quotation Oval Glass Paperweight from Bixler & Johnson; Mr. Darcy Proposal Dish Towel from Brookish Handmadegoods]

Austen’s novels have been translated into some of the most visually captivating movies of recent times. Nearly everybody has a favourite Austen heroine or novel that stands up to repeated re-reading (mine is Persuasion ‘s Anne Elliot). Her characters, comedy and romance continue to inspire. Here are some favourite objects for an Austen aficionado.

[Clockwise from top right: REDOUTE Vintage 1990 Art Print from Naturalist Collection; Vintage 50s Nylon Opera Gloves from Studio 1950; Art Deco Marcasite Necklace from Nouveau Motley; Silverplate tea set from Sadie Olive]

Sharing her insider view of New York’s privileged class, Wharton was the first woman to win a Pulitzer for The Age of Innocence. Her novels portray a class at odds with itself — outwardly exhibiting good manners and poise but secretly passionate, corrupt and deceitful. Wharton was also known as a gardener and interior designer and her home, The Mount, is preserved as an example of her design principles.

[Clockwise from top left: Pomegranate Bookplates by Lampyridae Press; Virgina Wolf Print by earthakitten; Bloomsbury Notebook by Leatherarts; Virginia Wolf Canvas Tote by amandertot; Biba Style Floral Velvet Dress from Iondablanca.]

Virginia Woolf’s most famous works include the novels Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando and the book-length essay A Room of One’s Own with its famous directive, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Woolf and the Bloomsbury artistic and design style of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant are intertwined, and Charleston House is bound to inspire any Woolf fan.

[Clockwise from top right: Pearl strand necklace from Designs by Diane; 1960s vintage black cocktail dress from Greatest Friend; Peacock feather pad from Pegasus 22; Gothic era photo of tree lined Bonaventure Cemetery from The Thanatos Archive; Antonio Miro vintage eyeglasses from mod vintage]

The Gothic storyteller Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, especially A Good Man Is Hard to Find, are among my favourite. Her stories are rooted in the South and often revolve around characters with deep moral flaws. In her life, O’Connor was fascinated by birds of all kinds and images of peacocks recur in her stories. O’Connor wrote more than two dozen short stories and two novels while battling lupus, but succumbed to the illness when she was just 39 years old.

Thanks to Jane. What female writer serves as your muse?

More Guest Curator Posts


  • janeflan

    janeflan said 6 years ago

    Thank you for having me!

  • BooandBooFactory

    BooandBooFactory said 6 years ago

    Great article! The collections are beautiful!

  • shannondzikas

    shannondzikas said 6 years ago

    I am drooling over these pretty pretty things. You make me want to pull out the pen and ink and write an actual letter. Books, gloves, pearls, heaven!

  • shannondzikas

    shannondzikas said 6 years ago

    Oh, and I'm a Sylvia Plath geek. Yeah, I'll admit it.

  • DessertWine

    DessertWine said 6 years ago

    Beautiful pieces, amazing women! Thank you so, so much!

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 6 years ago

    Great article!

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Wonderful! Love the finds! :)

  • RedorGrayArt

    RedorGrayArt said 6 years ago

    such a very special collection of love and letters ...the vignettes are so beautiful

  • indigohorizons

    indigohorizons said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful post! These are all favorite writers of mine too so I am about to have a look at the websites. Thanks for the great picks too! (A slip-of-the-keystroke in the Virginia Woolf section - it's Duncan Grant, not Duncan Clark.)

  • MyEverAfter

    MyEverAfter said 6 years ago

    Amazing! Jane Austen has always been one of my favorite authors, and is a great inspiration for my work.

  • MakingMyRent

    MakingMyRent said 6 years ago

    This is so fantastic! All of your choices speak heavily to whom women should look up to, especially us Etsians. Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" in particular, inspires me as an artist. I'm glad you featured her. Thank you!

  • cartolina

    cartolina said 6 years ago

    Gorgeously curated - and beautifully written too.

  • shavingkitsuppplies

    shavingkitsuppplies said 6 years ago

    This is beyond wonderful. Please do more!

  • natalya1905

    natalya1905 said 6 years ago

    What a gorgeous selection! Fantastic ladies, beautiful items. Perfect choice, totally inspiring. Thank you very much for sharing!

  • ohginger

    ohginger said 6 years ago

    I love this post, but the links below the Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf collages are the same/wrong. Would it be possible to edit them? I really love the Woolf quote bag!

  • PattieJansen

    PattieJansen said 6 years ago

    LOVE this...we can learn so much from the thoughts and dreams and stories of our literary "sisters"... Beautiful post, elegantly arranged...thanks!

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 6 years ago

    love the mr. darcy proposal on a dish towel. very witty and sweet.

  • rosebutton

    rosebutton said 6 years ago


  • PeachyKeenCreations

    PeachyKeenCreations said 6 years ago

    Love this article!

  • janeflan

    janeflan said 6 years ago

    indigohorizons - you're right! completely my mistake! hopefully will be fixed soon. ohginger - I've asked for those product credits to be corrected. In the meantime, here are the links to the correct products for the Virginia Woolf collage:

  • MakingMyRent

    MakingMyRent said 6 years ago

    Agreed whole-heartedly with shavingkitsupplies: *****"This is beyond wonderful. Please do more!"***** and shannondzikas: Do Sylvia Plath!!!!!!! Please, please, please!!!!!!!!

  • ScrappyTudeStudios

    ScrappyTudeStudios said 6 years ago

    Fabulously wonderful!

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry said 6 years ago

    Love this! Women in writing are extremely inspirational and make me love writing, even if it's just a note to my husband.

  • moxy

    moxy said 6 years ago

    Wonderful!! What great inspiration!

  • ScrappyTudeStudios

    ScrappyTudeStudios said 6 years ago

    I absolutely LOVE the tote bag with the Virginia Wolf quote on it, but can't link to it...Can anybody help?

  • quirkyshop

    quirkyshop said 6 years ago


  • planetlovevintage

    planetlovevintage said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article! I adore Jane Austin!

  • janeflan

    janeflan said 6 years ago

    I have asked for the Woolf links to be corrected. In the meantime, here they all are:

  • GustoSpice

    GustoSpice said 6 years ago

    Amazing! Not only the writings but the style of writing is so romantic and inspirational. Thank you for sharing!

  • janeflan

    janeflan said 6 years ago

    RE: VIRGINIA WOOLF product credits. I can't seem to add a link to the comment field here... I've asked the Etsy folks to correct the Virginia Woolf links In the meantime, you can find them in the first comment on my "Guest Etsy Curator" post on my blog, which is linked to in the intro of this post.

  • leenakatehome

    leenakatehome said 6 years ago

    So cool! What a fun way to play dress up!

  • GossamerMemories

    GossamerMemories said 6 years ago

    aahhhh!! Jane Austin.

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 6 years ago


  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 6 years ago

    jane austen, wow.. dreamy!

  • MorningGloryCrochet

    MorningGloryCrochet said 6 years ago

    The lovely Ms. Wolf!

  • abbyberkson

    abbyberkson said 6 years ago

    Anne Elliot is definitely the most rockin' Austen heroine!!!! Ok, rockin' is not particularly apt, but I love her so. But I also have a real soft spot for Fanny Price. Mostly I LOVE JANE AUSTEN, so this post made me all giddy. Thanks!

  • birdsinchandeliers

    birdsinchandeliers said 6 years ago

    fascinating women! virginia woolf is a favorite. i've followed your blog for years; such fun and inspiring things you write of, thanks for the lovely post.

  • GrubbyAngelsStudio

    GrubbyAngelsStudio said 6 years ago

    I love Girl Power stuff. this is really awesome.

  • SeaFindDesigns

    SeaFindDesigns said 6 years ago

    Just downloaded Pride and Prejudice on my Tab! So excited to read it again!

  • JocelynsInkwell

    JocelynsInkwell said 6 years ago

    Really inspired... and my first poetry loves were Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti.

  • odpeacock

    odpeacock said 6 years ago

    Letters are powerful.

  • mylittlebannerstore

    mylittlebannerstore said 6 years ago

    Beautiful words..l

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful collection of authors. Fabulous women, all of them. And the clothes, oh the clothes that these women got to wear. My muses, all of them!

  • DreamCake

    DreamCake said 6 years ago

    It's so nice to see talented women receive credit they deserve. Not enough of that in out society today. Love your blog, congrats on the feature! :)

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 6 years ago

    I love the angle that this article has been written! Makes me want to read some of those books! Thanks for sharing!

  • anitaatetsy

    anitaatetsy said 6 years ago

    Inspired! Romance!

  • OpulentOddities

    OpulentOddities said 6 years ago

    I think I'm the only woman in the world who loves Victoriana but can't stand jane austen.

  • UneBelleVie

    UneBelleVie said 6 years ago

    What a beautiful article and amazing authoress-inspired collections. I adore Jane Austen and her works and can't get enough of Virginia Woolf's stream of consciousness. I also love the Bronte sisters, Agatha Christie, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Atwood, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and so many, many more I could probably go on listing them all night long! Each of these women has had something so completely different and yet so vital to contribute to literature. The pen is certainly mightier than the sword, especially when it's in the hand of a great lady.

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana said 6 years ago

    How inspiring!

  • purpledrink

    purpledrink said 6 years ago

    So nice to see Edith Wharton highlighted here. One of those fantastic authors often overlooked. Beautiful portraits!

  • Peachygirl

    Peachygirl said 6 years ago

    Jane Austen has always been a favorite of mine as well as so many other creative women! How wonderful to see all these great authors showcased! If they only knew how they are celebrated even today and how their works have lived on for so many generations. Great job! *•.♥.•*

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    OpulentOddities says: I think I'm the only woman in the world who loves Victoriana but can't stand jane austen. Dear Opulent - Don't look now but the villagers are outside your home with pitchforks and torches. ;) Nice collection, Jane. I like Erma Bombeck.

  • ElizabethMironArt

    ElizabethMironArt said 6 years ago

    Who doesn't love Jane Austen?

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 6 years ago

    Beautiful collection.

  • jodyvanB

    jodyvanB said 6 years ago

    I love Jane's blog, " Ill Seen, Ill Said ", and read it daily. Jane is so interesting, with an intelligence and truthfulness that is hard to come by. She has impeccable taste. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • MyWisteriaCottage

    MyWisteriaCottage said 6 years ago

    I love Zora Neale Hurston, her life a trials being a black author in her time-wow. Women writers were so often firsts and trying to brooch subjects that were hard to talk about but were needing to be said. Thank you all women authors.

  • peaseblossomstudio

    peaseblossomstudio said 6 years ago

    oooooh, two of my favorite authors in one place. LOVE Jane Austen and Flannery O'Connor! Excellent!

  • LavenderField

    LavenderField said 6 years ago


  • rebellion22

    rebellion22 said 6 years ago


  • thebeachhousegallery

    thebeachhousegallery said 6 years ago

    Congrats! What an inspiring article. I love how written word can make us fall away from this earth, if only for a moment or two. Thank you for sharing. Inez Dunn

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 6 years ago

    Love this article!

  • lissy1946

    lissy1946 said 6 years ago

    Thank you for this delightful article. love it.

  • TresChicNmodern

    TresChicNmodern said 6 years ago


  • lobsterandswan

    lobsterandswan said 6 years ago

    it's all so lovely Jane x

  • TheOmegaWorkshop

    TheOmegaWorkshop said 6 years ago

    Wonderful! I adore the layout of this article and the pieces. Very readable and inspiring!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Beautiful picks, I love how stylish women of literature were! Very elegant picks : )

  • SugarKids

    SugarKids said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article, the collections were perfectly put together. .....Now for that black cocktail dress!

  • TagAlongAdventure

    TagAlongAdventure said 6 years ago

    What a beautiful, well-written, article. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 6 years ago

    Great article! Thanks for sharing!

  • lapaperie

    lapaperie said 6 years ago

    Lovely feature! Austen is also a personal favourite, and has inspired a lot of my own work.

  • LovelythingsStudio

    LovelythingsStudio said 6 years ago

    You speak to my soul.............

  • FranceGallery

    FranceGallery said 6 years ago

    I really enjoy Jane Austen's work!

  • riricreations

    riricreations said 6 years ago

    LOVE the Virginia Woolf quote on the bag~ thanks for sharing and encouraging those of us who LOVE to read!

  • handmadeUruguay

    handmadeUruguay said 6 years ago

    I love the bag from the Vrginia Woolf part too, but the links to the etsy store's for those items are mixed with the ones from Flannery O'Connor. Could you check that? THANKS!!!

  • handmadeUruguay

    handmadeUruguay said 6 years ago

    The blog is great!!!

  • YarnUiPhoneApp

    YarnUiPhoneApp said 6 years ago

    Annie Dillard is really my favorite. She writes so well and splendidly as with a conservative..Too many woman writers are out there are closet Communists (yes!) and it comes out in the writing that they think government can save people and not the other way around. On the male side, I adore Tom Wolfe, he writes on disparate topics so well and his conservative side comes through again and again.

  • minxstress

    minxstress said 6 years ago

    I loved your article!!!

  • andreadespot

    andreadespot said 6 years ago

    great job, jane! glad to see you over here making your mark on etsy :)

  • MishaGirl

    MishaGirl said 6 years ago

    It's beautiful how you've paired modern items with the spirit of each of these wonderful writers.

  • thistlehandmade

    thistlehandmade said 6 years ago

    Such lovely collages! Each item reflects the author beautifully.

  • ScrappyTudeStudios

    ScrappyTudeStudios said 6 years ago

    Thanks janeflan! I head to your blog to find the tote!

  • kateblossom

    kateblossom said 6 years ago

    lovely article- very inspiring and well done!

  • SincoAndSinco

    SincoAndSinco said 6 years ago

    Beautifully constructed, thank you for writing/sharing this. I very much enjoyed reading this, and am inspired to let my favorite female authors influence my choices today. :)

  • missbmckay

    missbmckay said 6 years ago

    Jane Austen was probably the first writer that I looked for other titles of hers to read. As a young lady, I wasn't a reader. However, after a couple of titles of Jane's, I was hooked. Now my daughters are avid readers because of the spark that Austen lit in me!

  • littleloveblue

    littleloveblue said 6 years ago


  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 6 years ago

    Awesome article. I love Flannery O'Connor...

  • MeadowLark

    MeadowLark said 6 years ago

    I LOVE this story! I am definitely a book addict, a disciple of Jane Austen, and an admirer of all women writers. Thank you so much!

  • fieldguided

    fieldguided said 6 years ago

    I get goosebumps just thinking about "A Good Man is Hard to Find!" Congrats, Jane, this is so excellent!

  • AFineDistraction

    AFineDistraction said 6 years ago

    Delightful article! I'm a fan of all the writers here, but The House of Mirth could possibly be my all-time favorite book. I guess I will have to go back and read again to be sure! :)

  • buffalogirls

    buffalogirls said 6 years ago

    A very special treat indeed. Hurray for women writers!

  • rosemreyes

    rosemreyes said 6 years ago

    New blog crush and shop for me ;)

  • VintageHomeArt

    VintageHomeArt said 6 years ago

    I really enjoyed reading this! I love Austen - Persuasion is one of my all time favourite books! I've worn away many paperback versions over the years and keep meaning to buy a hardcover but then hardcovers are just too heavy / uncomfortable. I really should join the 21st century and download an electronic version...and buy some things from this lovely selection with all the money I'd save in the long run!

  • wingedwomanart

    wingedwomanart said 6 years ago

    Very inspiring read and excellently curated. Love women writers and the inspiration for creativity and daily living they have given us through the years. Looks like you are joining the ranks of the the blog. Thanks!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Love your blog! Wonderful authors! I love many female authors . A great old time author was Katherine Porter !

  • Zalavintage

    Zalavintage said 6 years ago

    Thank you for the inspiration! I'll think I'll grab my worn copy of Age of Innocence and head to the beach this weekend.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 6 years ago

    Well, I'm with OpulentOddities... I can't abide Jane Austen! What about the less well known authoresses, such as Mrs Craik who wrote the novel that sold more copies than any other during Victorian times, or someone a bit more modern such as Robin Hobb?

  • thevelvetheart

    thevelvetheart said 6 years ago

    Neat subject for a blog! Thanks for sharing!

  • KheGreen

    KheGreen said 6 years ago

    Great article, love the collection! Thank you!!!

  • windfae

    windfae said 6 years ago

    This makes me want to read Pride and Prejudice again. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • unpunctured

    unpunctured said 6 years ago

    Flannery is definitely my favorite, and I'm so happy to have seen her included here because she seems to always be unfairly overlooked. When I read her biography I actually cried at the end, and that never happens to me. Our lives have/had a lot of parallels and I've just always felt that I could relate to her personally more than any other female writer. Thank you for this lovely treasury!

  • munieca

    munieca said 6 years ago

    beautiful article!!

  • Starzyia

    Starzyia said 6 years ago

    I love literary inspired creations the most! Great to see these beautiful and amazing creations and to know that people may be getting introduced to some of the authors for the first time.

  • amandertot

    amandertot said 6 years ago

    The Virginia Woolf tote is from my etsy store! Thanks so much for including me! For those interested, you can find the tote here:

  • dreamaginarius

    dreamaginarius said 6 years ago

    Lovely and very inspiring collections!

  • jimkat06

    jimkat06 said 6 years ago

    Thank you, this article was wonderful to read. I am a huge fan of Jane Austen & Edith Wharton.

  • gilstrapdesigns

    gilstrapdesigns said 6 years ago

    Thank you for posting this wonderful article I've subscribed to Ill Seen Ill Said .I'm so excited about read this great blog.

  • peacesofindigo

    peacesofindigo said 6 years ago

    Love this!!! I'm a huge Jane Austen fan. Lover her characters, flaws and all~

  • HeartVintageDesign

    HeartVintageDesign said 6 years ago

    Great collection!

  • WakulaWorks

    WakulaWorks said 6 years ago

    Really lovely. Thank you for sharing!

  • eblackie

    eblackie said 6 years ago

    Thank you for your post. I saw those calligraphy nibs and thought about making the most beautiful to do list ever!!

  • AyQuePretty

    AyQuePretty said 6 years ago

    Great article. Those women continue to be such inspiring trailblazers and make me proud to be a female artist.

  • ExpressingDevotion

    ExpressingDevotion said 6 years ago

    I love Jane Austin's books. The picture of calligraphy is what first caught my attention though.

  • SimpleJoysPaperie

    SimpleJoysPaperie said 6 years ago

    Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Flora Thompson and Elizabeth Gaskell are all favorites of mine. Great article!

  • leenakatehome

    leenakatehome said 6 years ago

    How fun, playing dress up throughout time..

  • lulusnest

    lulusnest said 6 years ago

    Beautiful pieces, amazing women and and excellent article! Thank you sharing these with all of us!

  • FreshRetroGallery

    FreshRetroGallery said 6 years ago

    Feeling a little political this 4th of July weekend. Listening to the National news recently, the women who have made a name in politics and may run for presidency... the first ladies...

  • NotableJewelry

    NotableJewelry said 6 years ago

    Very nice article. My wife and I love Pride and Prejudice.

  • ManyMinis

    ManyMinis said 6 years ago

    I started out my artsy career in college when I was a creative writing major. When people asked what I was going "to do" with a creative writing degree I would respond- Make my heart sing! I am now a glassblower by trade but still write as often as possible. To be an artist is to hunger to share your soul with the world. Thank you so much for the beautiful words on women with words! PS_ Sylvia Plath is my favorite!

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 6 years ago


  • janeflan

    janeflan said 6 years ago

    OpulentOddities - No argument from me if you don't like Austen! But a little correction: She is not a Victorian writer. The Victorian era started 20 years after Austen's death. She lived and wrote during the Regency / Georgian period. So, it's completely consistent that you like Victoriana but not Austen... mazedasastoat - of course there are many more (obscure and famous) female writers worth reading and discussion. The goal of this post was not to be encyclopaedic, but rather to present a snapshot of women writer's through time. They are all writers who I admire. But also they have a strong and distinct visual style that could be used to curate these little collections of Etsy products.

  • lauraprill

    lauraprill said 6 years ago

    so glad I found this post... very inspiring to me. I would make treasuries and items all day long about words and letters and books if I could...thank you for this beautiful article.

  • PickleBerryTrifles

    PickleBerryTrifles said 6 years ago

    This was a true delight to read. I have an amazing collection of vintage books from the 1800s and early 1900s and the poetry, writing, and illustrations never fail to pull me into that gentler time. They have inspired my art through the years as well.

  • kitschlandia

    kitschlandia said 6 years ago

    Great work about great women's work, Jane. Four, among many, of my favorites: Elizabeth Bishop, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Emily Dickinson, Muriel Rukeyser.

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