Everyone knows what an anthology is – it’s a collection of short stories or poems. Sometimes they are all by the same author, sometimes by several different authors. Sometimes they are themed – love, horror, sci-fi, for instance.
Sometimes they are collections of stories by writers just starting out (like the collected works of a writers’ group where modest sales are guaranteed – at least to the group members who have a story included). Sometimes they are the selected works of someone at the top of their game and sell well. (Here the name of the Canadian short story writer, Alice Munro, springs to mind).
But does the word anthology really mean what we think it does? And where did the term come from? My Collins dictionary describes it as a collection of literary passages or works, especially poems, by various authors, (from the Latin anthologia.) So far, so boring and predictable. But it’s origins become more intriguing when you discover that the Romans probably pinched the word from the Greeks. To the ancient Greeks, an anthology was a collection of flowers (from the Greek words anthos – flower, and Legein – to collect). Much more exotic!
My latest blossom, is appearing in a Solstice anthology, Realms of Fantastic Stories, to be published at the end of the week. The story, called The Ghost Queen, is part of my Shakespeare’s women project and in it we hear from Hermione, the queen in The Winter’s Tale – does she really want to return to court life, sixteen years after her husband the king thought she’d died?
Hermione, by the way, is Greek for of the earth. I’m thrilled that this flower I’ve just grown has now been taken from the earth and selected for the latest Solstice bouquet – sorry, anthology!