• Mary Eagleton
  • Emma Parker
Part of the The History of British Women’s Writing book series (HBWW)


In A Room of One’s Own (1929), Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) laments the empty bookshelves which, she believes, should be full of women’s literary works and histories of their lives. She thinks about the absence of material support for the woman writer — no quiet space away from family duties and no economic independence — and she thinks of what she calls the ‘immaterial’ difficulties — anything from a lack of encouragement to open hostility and derision. So often, ‘[h]er mind must have been strained and her vitality lowered by the need of opposing this, of disproving that’.1 Woolf suggests a series of possible research projects for the women of Girton and Newnham Colleges, Cambridge, her audience for the lectures on women and writing that became A Room of One’s Own: they could explore parish records and account books to discover the daily lives of Elizabethan women; they could explain the consequences of being undervalued; they might even account for men’s opposition to the emancipation of women.


Literary History Fairy Tale Feminist Criticism British Woman Woman Writer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993), p. 50.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 121–7.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Patricia Waugh, ‘The Woman Writer and the Continuities of Feminism’, A Concise Companion to Contemporary British Fiction, ed. James F. English (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), p. 191.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    A.S. Byatt, Passions of the Mind: Selected Writings (London: Vintage, 1991), p. 4; Zadie Smith, ‘Two Paths for the Novel’, The New York Review of Books, 20 November, 2008, pp. 89–94, subsequently included in Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays (New York: Penguin, 2009).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil or The Two Nations (1845).Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Andrea Levy, ‘Andrea Levy in Conversation with Susan Alice Fischer’, Andrea Levy: Contemporary Critical Perspectives, ed. Jeannette Baxter and David James (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014), p. 122.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    ‘Intersectionality’ is a term developed by women of colour to explain the interrelation between race and gender. Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) was an early explicater of the term with relation to the law. It now refers to the complex mapping of multiple forms of oppression and has been applied across the disciplines: see Intersectionality: A Foundations and Frontiers Reader, ed. Patrick R. Grzanka (Boulder: Westview Press, 2014).Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    See Elaine Showalter, ‘Toward a Feminist Poetics’, The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature and Theory, ed. Elaine Showalter (1985; London: Virago, 1986), pp. 125–43.Google Scholar
  9. Maud Ellmann, Thinking About Women (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968), p. 27. Further examples of gynocriticism include Figes’s Sex and Subterfuge: Women Novelists to 1850 (1982),CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Janet Todd’s Dictionary of British and American Women Writers 1660–1800 (1984), andGoogle Scholar
  11. Dale Spender’s Mothers of the Novel (1986).Google Scholar
  12. For a discussion of many of these books see Helen Carr, ‘A History of Women’s Writing’, A History of Feminist Literary Criticism, ed. Gill Plain and Susan Sellers (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 120–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. For further detail, see Mary Eagleton, ‘Literature’, Feminist Theory, ed. Mary Eagleton (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), pp. 153–72.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    Examples include Helene Keyssar’s Feminist Theatre (1984),CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Molly Hite’s The Other Side of the Story: Structures and Strategies of Contemporary Feminist Narratives (1989),Google Scholar
  16. Paulina Palmer’s Contemporary Women’s Fiction: Narrative Practice and Feminist Theory (1989),Google Scholar
  17. Linda Anderson’s Plotting Change: Contemporary Women’s Fiction (1990),Google Scholar
  18. Gayle Greene’s Changing the Story: Feminist Fiction and the Tradition (1991),Google Scholar
  19. Lorna Sage’s Women in the House of Fiction: Post-War Women Novelists (1992),CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Palmer’s Contemporary Lesbian Writing: Dreams, Desire, Difference (1993), andGoogle Scholar
  21. Maroula Joannou’s Contemporary Women’s Writing: From The Golden Notebook to The Color Purple (2000).Google Scholar
  22. 14.
    Patricia Duncker, Sisters and Strangers: An Introduction to Contemporary Feminist Fiction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), p. ix.Google Scholar
  23. 15.
    Jane Dowson and Alice Entwistle, A History of Twentieth-Century British Women’s Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 4.Google Scholar
  24. 16.
    Mary Jacobus, ‘The Difference of View’, Women Writing and Writing about Women, ed. Mary Jacobus (1979; London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 10–21.Google Scholar
  25. 17.
    Regina Barreca, ‘Foreword’, British Women Writing Fiction, ed. Abby H.P. Werlock (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2000), p. x.Google Scholar
  26. 18.
    Susan Watkins, Twentieth-Century Women Novelists: Feminist Theory into Practice (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001), p. 3.Google Scholar
  27. 19.
    Elaine Aston, Feminist Views on the English Stage: Women Playwrights 1990–2000 (Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 1–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 20.
    Linden Peach, Irish and Welsh Women’s Fiction: Gender, Desire and Power (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2007), p. xii.Google Scholar
  29. 21.
    Patricia Waugh, Feminine Fictions: Revisiting the Postmodern (London: Routledge, 1989), p. 30.Google Scholar
  30. 22.
    Lucie Armitt, Contemporary Women’s Fiction and the Fantastic (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), p. 220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 23.
    Diana Wallace, The Woman’s Historical Novel: British Women Writers 1900–2000 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), p. 2.Google Scholar
  32. 24.
    Jeannette King, The Victorian Woman Question in Contemporary Feminist Fiction (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), p. 6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 25.
    Imelda Whelehan, The Feminist Bestseller: From Sex and the Single Girl to Sex and the City (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), p. 3.Google Scholar
  34. 27.
    Cora Kaplan, ‘Feminist Criticism Twenty Years On’, From My Guy to Sci-Fi: Genre and Women’s Writing in the Postmodern World, ed. Helen Carr (London: Pandora, 1989), pp. 21–3.Google Scholar
  35. See Rita Felski, Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change (London: Hutchinson Radius, 1989) and Chapter 1, ‘“Beyond” Gender: The New Geography of Identity and the Future of Feminist Criticism’ in Susan Stanford Friedman, Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter (Princeton University Press, 1998), pp. 17–35.Google Scholar
  36. 28.
    Rita Felski, Literature After Feminism (University of Chicago Press, 2003), p. 93.Google Scholar
  37. 29.
    Nicci Gerrard, Into the Mainstream: How Feminism Changed Women’s Writing (London: Pandora, 1989), p. 162.Google Scholar
  38. 35.
    Naomi Alderman, ‘Wild West Video’, Fifty Shades of Feminism, ed. Lisa Appignanesi, Rachel Holmes, and Susie Orbach (London: Virago, 2013), p. 14.Google Scholar
  39. 37.
    See Toby Litt and Ali Smith, eds, New Writing 13 (London: Picador, 2005), p. x.Google Scholar
  40. 39.
    See Adrienne Rich, ‘When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision’, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966–1978 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979) andGoogle Scholar
  41. Winterson, Weight (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2005), p. xviii.Google Scholar
  42. 41.
    See Mary Eagleton, Figuring the Woman Author in Contemporary Fiction (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Elaine Showalter, A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx (London: Virago, 2010), p. xx.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mary Eagleton and Emma Parker 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Eagleton
  • Emma Parker

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations