Why did a gifted writer like Sylvia Plath stumble into a marriage that drove her to suicide? Why did Hilda Doolittle want to marry Ezra Pound when she was attracted to women? Why did Simone De Beauvoir pimp for Jean-Paul Sartre? The story of each of these relationships between female writers and their male literary partners is far from straightforward, but each relationship provokes the same question: would these women have become the writers they did without the experience of their own particular literary relationship? Drawn from writers’ diaries, letters and journals, Between the Sheets explores nine famous literary liaisons of the twentieth century. Lesley McDowell examines the extent to which each woman was prepared to put artistic ambition before personal happiness, and how dependent on their male writing partners they felt themselves to be. She probes the consequences of the women’s co-dependence and reveals how in many instances, their partnerships liberated unspoken desires, encouraged artistic innovation, and even made literary reputations. Fascinating and revealing, Between the Sheets offers a glimpse into the emotional and artistic lives of these great writers, and those of the artists they chose to share their lives with.
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