‘The Monstrous Regiment’: Literature and the Women’s Liberation Movement

  • Imelda Whelehan
Part of the The History of British Women’s Writing book series (HBWW)


The Women’s Liberation Movement produced feminist writers and readers. It inspired specialist publishers and small presses, as well as academic study, bolstering further interest in women’s writing. The relationship between artistic creation, political identity, and commerce was both mutually strengthening and deeply problematic. Writers explored what the feminist slogan ‘the personal is political’ might mean; readers consumed fiction that encapsulated their own experiences in its focus on the previously unrepresented aspects of women’s private lives. This second wave of feminism created ‘monsters’ in the eyes of detractors, and feminists exploited the ‘monstrous’ in a sustained challenge to the notion of appropriate ‘feminine’ behaviours. One feminist theatre group took the moniker ‘Monstrous Regiment’, thus subverting John Knox’s famous sixteenth-century tract attacking female power. Other misogynist terms, such as ‘Virago’ and ‘Shrew’, were rehabilitated and celebrated by feminists with deliberate irony.


Feminist Politics Feminist Criticism Feminist Writing Radical Feminism Magic Realist 
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.


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© Imelda Whelehan 2015

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  • Imelda Whelehan

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