Emily Midorikawa for Margate Bookie x Pieced Work


Emily Midorikawa is the co-author of A Secret Sisterhood, a book about the literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontё, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf, to be published in 2017 by Aurum Press (UK) and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (USA). With her co-author, Emma Claire Sweeney, she runs the female literary friendship blog, Something Rhymed. Emily teaches writing at City University London and New York University: London. She was the winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize in 2015.


Clatter – I like the way this word sounds so exactly like its meaning, and the actual feeling of clattering that you experience in your mouth when you say it. Collateral, catastrophe and cataclysmic create a similar effect, but nearly always appear in the context of something terrible that has happened. Clatter is more ambiguous.

From Old English clatrung, ‘clattering, noise’, of imitative origin.


Crikey – My mother was Japanese. I have a feeling that when she was learning English, someone or something gave her the impression that crikey was a very commonly-used English word. In reality, my mother said crikey more than anyone else I’ve ever known. It was her default exclamation for annoyance, for surprise or to emphasise a point. At some stage in her life, it must surely have dawned on her that no one used this word as much as her. But did that stop her? No way. On the now much rarer occasions when I see or hear crikey, it always makes me smile.

Since 1838, propably a euphamism for Christ, from Greek khristos, ‘the anointed’. Pronunciation with the long ‘i’ is a result of Irish missionary work in England between the 7th and 8th centuries.


Portmanteau – In her 1959 memoir Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It, the film star Mae West sings the praises of portmanteau with its many syllables and pleasing rhythm. I agree with her judgement here. It is a great word for a bag. There is also something satisfying about the style of bag it represents – a kind of travelling case with two equal parts – and the fact that portmanteau words take their name from this origin. While there might be some truly dreadful portmanteau words out there, others such as smog (smoke + fog) or Lewis Carroll’s slithy (lithe + slimy) perfectly sum up the concept.”

Port, past participle stem of Latin portare ‘to carry’ + manteau, from Latin mantellum, ‘cloak’. Originally, a court official who carried a prince’s mantle (16th C). Portmanteau word coined by Lewis Carroll (Charles L. Dodgson, 1832-1898) for the words he invented for Jabberwocky.


Emily presents Literary Friendships with Something Rhymed at the Margate Bookie on August 20th, details here.




Emma Claire Sweeney for Margate Bookie x Pieced Work


Emma Claire Sweeney is a writer who has won Arts Council, Royal Literary Fund and Escalator Awards, and been shortlisted for several others, including the Asham, Wasafiri and Fish. Emma writes literary features and pieces on disability for publications including the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and The Times. She teaches creative writing at New York University and co-runs SomethingRhymed.com – a website on female literary friendship. Owl Song at Dawn, a novel inspired by her autistic sister, will be published by Legend Press in July 2016. A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf, which she is co-writing with her own writer friend, Emily Midorikawa, will come out in 2017 with Aurum Press in the UK, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the USA. Emma is represented by Veronique Baxter at David Hingham Associates; you can follow her on Twitter @emmacsweeney.


Audacious – One of my closest friends accused me of being audacious, and, although he didn’t exactly mean it as a compliment, it made me feel inordinately proud. Since then, the sensation of these syllables in my mouth bring to mind his mischievous smile.

In use since the 16th century, from Latin audax, ‘brave, bold, daring’, from audere ‘to dare, be bold’.


“Honeysuckle – I used to dread break time at nursery – the clink of milk bottles, the puncture of straws through foil. But honey, now there’s a taste I’d have liked to suckle.

Circa 1400, in reference to the common climbing vine, from Old English hunigsuge, meaning possibly honeysuckle, clover, wild thyme or privet, literally ‘honey-suck’. Honey, from Old English hunig ‘honey’, from Proto-Germanic hunagam of uncertain origin. Perhaps from PIE k(e)neko – ‘yellow, golden’, where we get the Welsh canecon, ‘gold’ + Suck, from Old English sucan, ‘to suck’, possibly from the same source as Latin sugere, ‘to suck’.


“Quirky – One of my most frequent search terms: quirky café bars in Morecambe, quirky bistros in Montmartre, quirky bathhouses in Marrakech. Quirky is where I want to be.”

Unknown origin, maybe originally a technical term for a twist or flourish in weaving. Sense of something peculiar is circa 1600.


Emma Claire Sweeney presents Literary Friendships with Something Rhymed at the Margate Bookie on August 20th, more here. She will also be part of the Bookie’s Literary Lounge on August 21st, tickets here.