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 Brontë, 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 soon became a strong, bright thread in the fabric of Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s life together.
Based 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.
Advance praise for Shaggy Muses
“An intimate look at famous women authors whose lives were more 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 those interested in the human-animal bond should read this fascinating book.” (Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation)
“I so enjoyed Shaggy Muses. It manages very successfully to bring into focus exactly why these dogs were important to these writers – providing some with confidence, some with love, some with protection, and all of them with a curious sense of identification with another spirit that, sometimes, fueled their writing. No mean feat.” (Margaret Forster, author of Elizabeth Barrett Browning: A Biography)
“Shaggy Muses gives readers an intriguing new approach to these five authors. Writing can be a lonely profession. As a dog lover and writer, it’s wonderful for me to think of how these important authors all seem to have needed the kind of comfort and love that dogs give best.” (Diana Wells, author of My Therapist’s Dog: Lessons in Unconditional Love)