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Lost Ladies of Lit

Arts & Culture Podcasts

A book podcast hosted by writing partners Amy Helmes and Kim Askew. Guests include biographers, journalists, authors, and cultural historians discussing lost classics by women writers.

A book podcast hosted by writing partners Amy Helmes and Kim Askew. Guests include biographers, journalists, authors, and cultural historians discussing lost classics by women writers.


United States


A book podcast hosted by writing partners Amy Helmes and Kim Askew. Guests include biographers, journalists, authors, and cultural historians discussing lost classics by women writers.








Disaster to the Wench with Nina Berry & Brenda Pontiff

If you love the Golden Age of cinema, this one’s for you! Two of the hosts from the fun new YouTube show Disaster to the Wench join us for this week’s mini episode. A mashup of TV’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 and TCM (Turner Classic Movies), with a twist of Ms. magazine, Disaster to the Wench is a sassy and feminist real-time commentary of classic Hollywood films like Rain starring Joan Crawford and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers starring Barbara Stanwyck.


Lorraine Hansberry — A Raisin in the Sun with Dr. Soyica Diggs Colbert

The Washington Post called Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun “one of a handful of great American plays—it belongs in the inner circle, along with Death of a Salesman, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and The Glass Menagerie.” Join us as we discuss A Raisin in the Sun and the remarkable life and work of its author with guest Dr. Soyica Diggs Colbert, whose critically-lauded new biography Radical Vision uncovers key details about Hansberry’s activism and contextualizes her importance...


Mary Astell — The First Feminist

Born a generation before Mary Wollstonecraft, seventeenth-century English philosopher Mary Astell wrote the groundbreaking works A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, her plea and plan for the education of women, and an indictment of early modern marriage called Some Reflections upon Marriage. Her work was praised by contemporaries, including Robinson Crusoe author, Daniel Defoe. In this week’s mini episode, find out more about Astell and why we should all know who she is.


Edith Lewis & Willa Cather with Melissa Homestead

Edith Lewis’s editorial input helped shape Willa Cather’s writing for almost four decades—and for that same length of time, Willa Cather and Edith Lewis were life partners, too. Their relationship was tacitly accepted during their lifetime, only to be erased (along with Lewis’s legacy) in the second half of the 20th century. Join us as we bring Lewis back into the picture with this week’s guest, Dr. Melissa Homestead, author of The Only Wonderful Things: The Creative Partnership of Willa...


Welcome to Lost Ladies of Lit! A 50 Second Trailer

A quick preview of Lost Ladies of Lit, a book podcast hosted by writing partners Amy Helmes and Kim Askew. Guests include biographers, journalists, authors, and cultural historians discussing lost classics by women writers.


Judith Love Cohen — a.ka. Jack Black’s Mom

If you type “Judith Love Cohen” into your search bar, the headlines about her can be summed up in three words, “Jack Black’s mom.” But did you know she was also a prolific author, an aerospace engineer who helped the Apollo 13 mission, and, for a time, a professional ballerina in New York City? Join us for our latest mini episode, inspired by a meme that sent us down a rabbit hole of amazingness.


Nancy Mitford — The Pursuit of Love/Love In a Cold Climate with Laura Thompson

Joining us from the UK this week is New York Times bestselling-writer Laura Thompson, author of the Nancy Mitford biography Life In a Cold Climate and the Mitford sisters biography The Six. Mitford’s semi-autobiographical novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate are outrageously funny, as well as bitingly perceptive social satires of the British upper class. All the true Hons out there are sure to adore this episode!


The American Guide Series

Imagine if there were a federal works program to support unemployed writers? In the 1930s, there was! In this week’s mini episode, we’re taking a look at the fascinating American Guide Series, a collection of travel guides to the United States that was part of the New Deal’s Federal Writers’ Project, employing more than 6,500 mostly unknown writers during the Depression Era. Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Walker, and Dorothy West were among the many authors who wrote material and collected...


Elizabeth Stoddard — The Morgesons with Rachel Vorona Cote

Like her contemporary Herman Melville, New England writer Elizabeth Stoddard was a critical success—Nathaniel Hawthorne himself was a fan, and she was compared to Tolstoy, George Eliot, Balzac and the Bronte sisters—but her books failed to find an audience when they were published. Join us as we discuss Stoddard’s brilliant novel The Morgesons and its bold and inimitable heroine with guest Rachel Vorona Cote, author of Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today.


Celia Thaxter — A Picturesque Poet Turns to Crime Writing

After witnessing the aftermath of a notorious double murder, one of 19th century America’s most popular poetry and prose writers took up crime writing in her Atlantic Monthly essay A Memorable Murder. The subject of this week’s mini episode, Celia Thaxter grew up on a tiny island off the coast of New England, where her father was the lighthouse keeper. Later, after becoming Boston’s literary darling, she hosted friends such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthore,...


Maud Hart Lovelace - The Betsy-Tacy High School Books with Sadie Stein

Ready for some Edwardian Era YA? Set in Minnesota at the turn of the 20th century, Maud Hart Lovelace’s delightful Besty-Tacy series is closely based on the author’s idyllic midwestern childhood. In this week’s episode we’re discussing the four books that span Betsy’s high school years (1906-1910): Heaven To Betsy, Betsy in Spite of Herself, Betsy Was a Junior, and Betsy and Joe with our guest, writer and editor Sadie Stein.


Anna Komnene — Europe's First Female Historian

If you were banished by your brother to a convent, how would you use all that “free” time? 12th-century Byzantine princess Anna Komnene put pen to paper to record her version of the family history in a 15-volume work, The Alexiad, modeled after the classic Greek epics she loved. We’ll give you the highlights of this Game of Thrones-rivaling family saga that Edmund White dubbed “an engaging document of a crucial era.”


Peg Bracken — The I Hate to Cook Book with Helene Siegel

Peg Bracken’s bestselling 1960 cookbook The I Hate to Cook Book has been described as a mashup of Martha Stewart and Amy Sedaris. Join us as we discuss the quirky anti-cookbook that gave women permission to throw in the towel—and reach for a martini, instead—with this week’s guest, another bestselling cookbook author, Helene Siegel, who dishes on her own hilarious experiences in the culinary world.


All For the Love of Libraries

In this week’s mini episode, Amy confesses a “scandalous” book lover’s secret, and we discuss many things library-related, including Parker Posey in PARTY GIRL, Susan Orlean’s THE LIBRARY BOOK, and controversial librarian Anne Carroll Moore, who headed up children’s library services for the New York Public library from 1906 through 1941. Plus participate in our #nightstandchallenge by sharing a pic of your nightstand on instagram @lostladiesoflit.


Amy Levy — Reuben Sachs with Dr. Ann Kennedy Smith

Did you know there was a controversial, now-forgotten 1888 novel written in response to George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda by a writer who has been described as “the Jewish Jane Austen?” Until recently, neither did we. Join us as we talk with Dr. Ann Kennedy Smith about author Amy Levy and her stunning, sardonic novel Reuben Sachs, which fan and friend Oscar Wilde deemed a classic.


Martha Gellhorn

“I was a writer before I met him, and I have been a writer for 45 years since. Why should I be a footnote to someone else’s life?” said author Martha Gellhorn of ex-husband Ernest Hemingway. We couldn't agree more, and that’s why we devoted this week’s mini episode to learning more about the life of this fantastically courageous war correspondent and novelist who was admired by the Roosevelts, friends with H.G. Wells, and the only woman on the scene for the D-Day invasion at Normandy.


Jocelyn Playfair — A House in the Country

In this week’s episode we discuss Jocelyn Playfair’s A House in the Country. Written in 1944—when an Allied victory was still far from certain—the story is set at Brede Manor, a fine Georgian house that is hosting displaced wartime lodgers. The novel is a lovely elegy on the human experience and finding meaning in strange, dark times. In other words, highly relatable.


A Short History of Riding Side Saddle

This week’s mini is in homage to last week’s trailblazing Lost Lady of Lit, Charmian Kittredge London, who was among the first wave of women to eschew riding side saddle. Join us as we take a closer look at the fascinating history of this unsafe practice that had its origins in the Middle Ages.


Charmian Kittredge London with Iris Jamahl Dunkle

If you don’t know anything about author Charmian Kittredge London, you’ll be fascinated by her after this episode! She was every bit as fearless—arguably more so—as her famous husband, Jack London, and she was the driving force behind their 1907 sailing adventure across the South Pacific on the Snark. Unfairly relegated to his larger-than-life shadow, Kittredge’s story is compelling on its own terms, as we learn from this week’s guest, Kittredge London biographer Iris Jamahl Dunkle.


Dear Film Industry, Please Consider Adapting These Books by Women

Join Amy and Kim for their latest mini episode as they take a trip down memory lane to tell the story of their bff “meet cute.” No surprise, there’s a direct throughline to PBS’s Masterpiece series and the BBC, as well as a wish list of books by women that Kim and Amy would love to see adapted. Join the conversation @lostladiesoflit or send them an email via LostLadiesofLit.com.