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Mothers of the Mind
Mothers of the Mind

Mothers of the Mind

The Remarkable Women Who Shaped Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie and Sylvia Plath


368 Pages, 6.14 x 9.21

Formats: Cloth, EPUB

Cloth, $36.99 (CA $49.99) (US $36.99)

Publication Date: April 2024

ISBN 9781803991894

Rights: US & CA

The History Press (Apr 2024)


eBook Editions Available

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The stories of the remarkable mothers who shaped Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, and Sylvia Plath

Julia Stephen, Clara Miller, and Aurelia Plath were fascinating women in their own rights, and their relationships with their daughters were exceptional; they profoundly influenced the writers’ lives, literature, and attitude to feminism.

This book charts the complex, often contradictory, bond between these mothers and daughters. Too often in the past Virginia, Agatha and Sylvia have been defined by their lovers, this book redresses the balance by focusing on their formative affinity with their mothers.

Drawing on previously unpublished original sources from archives around the world and talking to family and friends of the women this book offers a new perspective on these iconic authors.


“The biographical background offers astute insight into how the writers’ mothers influenced their work...It’s an original take on three literary legends.”—Publishers Weekly

"The three separate portraits evoke their settings with historical finesse, from Victorian and Edwardian England to midcentury America. The complexities and contrasts within each relationship are developed with restraint, in consideration of the positive and negative impacts of each woman’s own maternal environment. Via three revelatory and compelling case studies, Mothers of the Mind examines the pivotal impact of motherdaughter relationships upon the creative process."—Foreword Reviews

"Enjoyable and informative...[Diana, Sarah, and Mary] deserve to have their full stories told as well. Trethewey gives them, and us, this long-overdue gift in The Churchill Sisters." --The Washington Examiner on The Churchill Sisters

“Trethewey sheds new and fascinating light on the drama, passion and tragedy surrounding Diana, Sarah, Marigold and Mary, and the pivotal role each played in their father's illustrious political career…[a] richly drawn, gorgeously written group biography.”Shelf Awareness (starred) on The Churchill Sisters

"[Trethewey] sets a brisk pace and succeeds in depicting a trio of intriguing women at a perilous moment in world affairs." -
Publishers Weekly on The Churchill Sisters

"This remarkable, sometimes tragic story of the daughters who supported their brilliant historical giant of a father will appeal to a broad range of engrossing and intelligent group biography. --Kirkus Reviews on The Churchill Sisters

Author Biography

RACHEL TRETHEWEY studied History at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where she won the Philip Geddes Prize for student journalism. During her journalistic career she wrote features for the Daily Mail and Daily Express, and subsequently reviewed history books for The Independent. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the author of The Churchill Sisters about Winston's daughters. She lives in Devon.