By Elaine Showalter
When first released in 1977, A Literature in their Own quick set the level for the inventive explosion of feminist literary reviews that reworked the sector within the Eighties. Launching a tremendous new region for literary research, the ebook exposed the lengthy yet ignored culture of girls writers in England. A vintage of feminist feedback, its effect remains to be felt today.
This revised and multiplied version includes a new introductory bankruptcy surveying the book's reception and a brand new postscript bankruptcy celebrating the legacy of feminism and feminist feedback within the efflorescence of latest British fiction by means of women.
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Extra resources for A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing
52 When G. H. Lewes complained in 1852 that the literature of women was "too much a literature of imitation" and demanded that women should express "what they have really known, felt and suffered,"53 he was asking for something that Victorian society had made impossible. Feminine novelists had been deprived of the language and the consciousness for such an enterprise, and obviously their deprivation extended beyond Victoria's reign and into the twentieth century. The delicacy and verbal fastidiousness of Virginia Woolf is an extension of this feminized language.
The road is open. The race is fair. "23 The shift toward acceptability of middle-class women's need to earn money came very slowly, but there is no doubt that from the beginning writing offered the best chances of remuneration. A governess, who held virtually the only other kind of job open to untrained middle-class women, earned only between 20 and 45 pounds a year plus board. The copyright sale of even a mediocre novel by an unknown author was likely to equal the yearly wage of a governess. The copyright of the average three-decker sold for 100 pounds.
Not until the period 1900-1935 did a university-educated group of women enter the profession, and even then they constituted only 38 percent of the female group. The percentage of women educated at home and school nearly equalled the percentage of men educated at universities. Women writers were deprived of education because of their sex, not because of their class. For the middle-class Victorian girl, the departure of a brother for school was a painful awakening to her inferior status; the scene echoes in English fiction from George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss (i860) to Sarah Grand's The Beth Book (1897).