Successes and failures

There has been some interesting press recently about the popularity of female writers and their winning ways – notable examples include Hilary Mantel and her great successes with Bring up the Bodies and the female dominated Granta Best of Young British Novelists list.

These two news stories from this past week, I felt, deserved comment, as they highlight two quite different aspects of life as a female writer. The first one looks again at women leading the way in award nominations, this time with seven of the ten authors on the long list for the Desmond Elliot Prize in debut fiction being women:

And then, to a total contrast – this story from the Guardian highlighting the decision of the Wikipedia editors to create a sub category for “American Women Novelists,” leaving the main page, “American Novelists,” to be all male, no matter what their achievement or contribution to literature. It is difficult to know where to begin when thinking about this decision to segregate women like that, coupled with the fact that it was somehow seen as acceptable. It’s not like women writers are a new thing, or that women have only just begun to achieve success in the field.

The editors have since begun to move some female writers back to the main page, but still. A quote from the world of music seems to sum up my thoughts on this –  the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall is to be conducted by a woman for the first time in its 118 year history, and although Marin Alsop was happy with the news, she was quoted as saying “I’m extraordinarily proud to be the first woman, but I’m also sad that it’s 2013 and there still can be firsts for women,”



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