International Women’s Day: our favourite female writers

By | March 8, 2012

Exciting news in the Bloomsbury offices today as 3 of our female authors have been longlisted for the Orange Prize! This is especially significant as today is International Women's Day. In celebration of this, we've decided to take a look at some of our favourite female writers in the Bloomsbury office and included some exclusive previews for you to indulge in. Enjoy!

Margaret AtwoodMargaret Atwood

What can we say about Margaret Atwood that hasn’t been said already?

Described variously as “the public voice of Canadian letters,” as “Canada’s literary superstar,” and as “one of the most fascinating, versatile, and prolific authors of our time,” Canadian author Margaret Atwood, in the years since the publication of her first book of poetry, Double Persephone, in 1961, and her first novel, The Edible Woman, in 1969, has evolved from a Canadian cult figure and celebrity into an internationally acclaimed writer with a wide popular and academic following. The author of over forty works— including over a dozen novels and over a dozen books of poetry as well as collections of short stories and short fiction, works of literary criticism, and collections of essays and reviews – Atwood is an international best-selling author whose books have been translated into over thirty-five languages, and she has been the recipient of an ever-multiplying number of honorary degrees and literary awards.

Margaret Atwood holds great resonance in my personal experience of reading, having received a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale at school and genuinely being blown away by its intelligence, eloquence and beauty. To this day I revisit it every year, and still can’t believe that it manages to elicit the same emotional and intellectual response.

Our critical study of Margaret Atwood contains original readings and critical re-evaluations of three of her  masterpieces—The Robber Bride, The Blind Assassin, and Oryx and Crake. It reveals her ongoing and evolving engagement with the issues that have long preoccupied her writing —ranging from the power politics of human relationships to a concern with human rights and the global environment. You can read the introduction to Margaret Atwood and discussion of The Robber Bride by clicking on the preview button to the left.


Louise ErdrichLouise Erdrich

The author of 13 novels, four volumes of poetry, a short story collection, two books of non-fiction, five children’s books and a textbook on writing, Louise Erdrich is one of the most prolific and acclaimed contemporary North American Writers. She shaped the possibilities for Native American women's fiction in the United States during the late twentieth century with her multiperspectival representation of culture, history and female experience. Not content with being widely recognised as one of the best female writers of our generation (she has been the recipient of a  Guggenheim Fellowship and in 2000 she was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas ), she is also the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore in Minneapolis.

Our contemporary study of Louise Erdrich highlights her important contribution to women’s writing, containing essays by noted scholars of Native American Literature on three important novels that chart the trajectory of her novelistic career, Tracks (1988), The Last Report on the Miracles At Little No Horse (2001) and The Plague of Doves (2007).  I have created an exclusive freebie preview from this book – you can read the chapter on Tracks by clicking on the preview button to the left.


Katherine_MansfieldKatherine Mansfield

‘The pleasure of reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.’ – Katherine Mansfield

The last two decades have seen a remarkable rise in Katherine Mansfield’s reputation – putting her, rightfully, at the centre of modernist studies. ‘Courageous, contradictory, self-willed, single-minded, argumentative, elusive, in both her life and her work’ according to ‘Bertrand Russell admired her brain and would have liked to seduce her; Virginia Woolf said she “stank like a civet cat that has taken to street walking” but admitted that she loved her “I suppose in my own way”, and that Katherine was the only writer whose writing she was jealous of. Christopher Isherwood and Aldous Huxley were among a number of writers who borrowed not only her words, but also her character for their novels. D.H. Lawrence used her as the model for Gudrun in Women in Love.’ Quite the endorsement!

A writer who herself was intent on exploring 'what lies beneath the rich strange surfaces', her stories often focus on moments of disruption and frequently open rather abruptly.

Katherine Mansfield and Literary Modernism discusses her fiction in relation to her life, expanding our understanding of what it means to be a Modernist while allocating Mansfield a firm place in any current study of Modernism. You can read the introduction and first part discussing her Philosophy and Fiction by clicking to the left.


These are just 3 of our favourites in the Continuum Literary Studies team – we'd love to hear about yours.


Jenny Tighe

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