Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘female authors

Last week we posted about novellas. We asked which of the prize-winning short books written by women would you like to read whilst at Hillcroft:

Being a college for women means that we try to make women feature prominently in our book collections where suitable. Not just female authors, but female characters too. Yet would we want to read books by women about women? According to the article ‘Books about women less likely to win prizes, study finds‘ – apparently not. Women seem to prefer books about male lead characters and supports the argument for “women’s perspectives being considered uninteresting or unworthy” (Flood 2015).

Uninteresting? Unworthy?….Really?

Do the above novellas feature women as main characters? After reading the short summaries below, do those with main female characters sound as interesting as the other stories?

Three Blind Mice is a murder mystery with a bunch of characters stuck in a house together knowing one of the group is a killer.

The Photograph centers around a female character, Kath… who is dead.

The Grandmothers is about two women who fall in love with each other’s sons.

The Awakening is about a woman who has an unhappy marriage (controversial when it was written in 1899!)

The Artist of Disappearance is about a man called Ravi who lives in solitude on a mountain in India.

The Pre-War House & other stories features families often in dark situations.

Black Water centres on a woman who is attracted to a very powerful, older man at a party.

Heartstones is a Gothic thriller about two sisters living with their widowed father. One of the sisters is obsessed with taking her mother’s place.

Brokeback Mountain is about love between two cowboys.

Mathilda is told by a woman on her deathbed about her sad life without a mother and a disastrous relationship with her father. Published 150 years after it was written because it was so controversial.

Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is centred around the sinister influence that a charismatic female teacher has on girls in school.

Black Sheep is an especially bleak tale about a family in a small mining village.

So there we have it, lots of family drama and controversial relationships. There are strong and strange female characters aplenty. Yet all the stories are based in Western cultures apart from The Artist of Disappearance – but addressing that issue would be another whole blog post.

Jane Austen booksFor our display for International Women’s Day, we had to narrow down our selection of inspirational women to just ten. We had a science theme so many of the women who made waves in the arts and humanities were left out. With a couple of students commenting on the absence of the author Jane Austen, it made us think about this inspirational woman in particular.

According to the website Biography.com Jane didn’t receive much recognition during her lifetime and that it was only in the 1920s that people began to see her six works of fiction as genius. In Tomalin’s biography of Austen (2000 p. 11) she informs us that “Jane Austen’s novels do not ramble”. Her wit and observations into society are remarkable as well as her tightly-woven plots. You can find her writing and adaptations of her work in the LRC by searching the catalogue for “Jane Austen”. The BBC’s TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most loved of all. The novel was originally titled “First Impressions” whilst Northanger Abbey was first called ‘Susan’.

December 16th is Jane Austen Day in celebration of her lasting influence. Most events take place in Bath, where she once lived. If you can’t wait that long to start finding out about Jane and her world, you can also read the online magazine about all things regency (food, fashion, history).

Jane Austen has been in the news recently as a picture of Jane will replace that of Charles Darwin on the £10 note. This was after a campaign led by journalist and feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez which brought the lack of women on bank notes to the attention of the Bank of England (and the world). The irony is that Jane sold Northanger Abbey to the publisher for £10 in 1803 (see entry for Jane Austen in Encyclopaedia Britannica) which according to the National Archives currency converter would be about £330 in the modern day. Not very much money at all! If only we could go back in time and let her know how priceless her work is.

Which other women do you feel should have made our inspirational women poster or feature more in our everyday lives?

Bailey Women's Prize for Fiction booksWe added one more book from the the Bailey Women’s Prize for Fiction nominees to our shelves this week:

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Take a look at the shortlisted books as a reminder. We’ve already added this one by Jnumpa Lahiri to our collection from the shortlist:

The Lowland by Jnumpa Lahiri

and from the longlist:

The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto

We also submitted some of our students for the national prize draw for completing the 2014 Six Book Challenge. Our students could win a free weekend trip to London with a friend or Kobo ereaders. Visit the Reading Agency’s About the Six Book Challenge to discover what it entails.

If you’re like our students and just getting back into reading the Reading Agency’s Find a Read page is handy for choosing books that interest you to suit your reading level.


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