BURN PILE: Writing by Ouija, female novelists on Wikipedia, literary sibling rivalries

Via Creative Commons We've got spirits, yes we do: Have a few questions about your future as a writer? At the Smithsonian Magazine, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie follows the history of the Ouija Board, and names a few literary figures who put it to use. Mark Twain is said to've used the board to receive poems for Emily Grant Hutchings' book, Jap Herron. McRobbie also writes that poet James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was "Ouija-inspired and dictated." For those of you who want to pursue the literary spirits further, here's the 1921 patent for the Ouija Board.

Technology Review's new feature, "The Decline of Wikipedia," uses a touch of fiction to drive home a point about authoritative information on the site. "Its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive," writes Tom Simonite, "but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy." Simonite estimates that the site's contributing and editorial volunteer pool is "90 percent male." One wonders how Wikipedia's structure might parallel that of the publishing industry. And, if you wonder as well, you might consider this post at The Stranger from Paul Constant. "It's the publishing industry's job—from publishers on down to reviewers—to ensure that female authors start on the same playing field as male authors."

Sibling rivalries: There is, according to Casey Cep, a persistent rumor that Branwell Brontë—brother of Charlotte and Emily—penned Wuthering Heights. "Collaboration and competition between brothers and sisters exists no matter their vocations," writes Cep, "but literary siblings challenge our assumptions of lonely genius, isolated writers alone at their desks." From the Brontës, Cep moves on to literary siblings such as Dorothy Wordsworth, and makes examples of a few sibling writers whose work stands comfortably shoulder-to-shoulder.