Shaggy Muses: The Dogs Who Inspired Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton, and Emily Brontë

by Maureen Adams

Hardcover, 2007




Ballantine Books (2007), Edition: 1st, 320 pages


Coaxed through a depression by her golden retriever, Adams, a psychologist and former English professor, was drawn to five women writers who relied on their dogs for emotional support. Flush distracted Elizabeth Barrett after her favorite brother's death. Formidable, eccentric Emily Bronte, who once savagely beat her fierce mastiff, Keeper, for sleeping on her bed, refused to sentimentalize the human-dog bond in Wuthering Heights. Carlo, a Newfoundland, comforted Emily Dickinson in a dark time--when she may have been in love with a married man--and Edith Wharton mourned the death of one of her pooches more than the death of her mother. And Adams suggests that Virginia Woolf, depicting a dog's trauma in her biography of Flush, who was dognapped for ransom, dealt with her own childhood molestation. Lovers of both dogs and classic writers will identify with this sweet, quirky book.--From publisher description.… (more)


½ (16 ratings; 3.6)

User reviews

LibraryThing member harro004
Lovely well drawn essays of 19th./20th. century women writers and the dogs that inspired and loved them.
LibraryThing member dcoward
An interesting look at how dogs influenced the writing of 5 different female authors. I'm not sure how to rate this, I found the writing a bit uneven, but as a female book-loving dog owner, interesting. A plus for this book was that it did not just focus on the womens' relationships with their
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dogs, but also gave an outline of the their lives and writings for those unfamiliar with the authors.
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LibraryThing member laytonwoman3rd
This book is subtitled "The Dogs Who Inspired Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton, and Emily Bronte". *whew* I found it quite interesting, although the subtitle is a bit misleading. The dogs in question were not so much inspiration to, as emotional support
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for, the women who cherished them, helping the women to compensate for lack of love and attention, or the wrong kind of attention, from mothers, siblings, lovers and spouses. Each section is a mini-biography of one author, with the focus on how her dog(s) featured in her life. Although written by a psychologist, the main text is blessedly free of psycho-babble, while the afterword does go into some analysis of concepts such as limbic resonance, attachment figures and (god-help-us) psychopomps.
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LibraryThing member KCummingsPipes
So wonderful I read it straight through at one setting. Highly recommended to anyone who loves literature or dogs or who is interested in the lives of writers or in women writers: Woolf, Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton, and Emily Bronte. It's also a lovely celebration of the
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therapeutic benefits of dogs as companions. Quotes: Virginia Woolfe: "Half the horrors of illness cease when one has a book or a dog or a cup of one's own at hand." kl 4496 "Like many creative people, she [Emily Dickinson] depended on someone else to oversee the balance between having time alone against the need for connection with others to avoid being engulfed by the work." One "someone else" was her dog.
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LibraryThing member Vinculus
Most interesting (to me) for the basic biographical sketches. The focus on the writers' dogs was a moderately interesting twist.


Original language


Physical description

320 p.; 5.9 inches


0345484061 / 9780345484062
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