Zora Raeburn : The Unvanquished

Photograph: Ken Russell

To me, the nearly unheard of writer Zora Raeburn was a woman both terrifying and bold. She was absolutely able to propel herself forward as an artist without any outside support or assistance or acknowledgment. She is pictured here with a wall of rejection letters. She only ever received rejection letters--to the end of her life none of her work was ever accepted for publication. What could that have been like?

I love the way she is using the pointer, professor-like, in this photograph, as if to draw our attention to something there, to educate us on an interesting aspect of content in one sentence of one letter in this monolith of rejection. What could it possibly say? Keep trying? Stop pestering us? Who do you think you are? And what did she do next, once she climbed down, rather unsteadily, from that ladder? Sat down and wrote, no doubt.

To add to her mystique, it is rumored Zora did eventually self-publish a book (the aptly named Disillusionment) that is impossible to track down, and might not even exist.