This International Women’s Day 2017, we are launching a campaign on behalf of the many talented women writers who have been neglected and forgotten throughout history.
#WomensWrites #BeBoldForChange #IWD2017
2017 is a big year for Jane Austen: 200 years after her death, she will be featured on the £10 banknote. People
are less aware that Jane Austen was one of a thriving community of early women writers. These included playwrights, novelists, poets, historians, travel writers, and more.
Based in the ‘Great House’ once owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward, and referred to in her letters, our Library preserves and promotes early women’s writing. We also aim to inspire modern-day women writers by raising awareness of this unsung legacy.
Some of the writers featured here were famous in their time, but were then excised from history. Others were never even published. We hold unique manuscripts – such as novels, journals and account books – all of which give insights into women’s lives.
Why this is important today
A recent study, published in the journal Science, showed that girls as young as six believe that genius is a male trait due to the influence of gender stereotypes. Referring to the study, Rebecca S. Bigler, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin (who was not involved in the work but welcomed it), suggested that the stereotypes develop in early elementary school when students are exposed to famous scientists, composers and writers, the ‘geniuses’ of history, who are overwhelmingly men. Bigler said it is important to combine that knowledge with information on gender discrimination.
We believe restoring these women writers to their rightful place in the history of literature is an important step in redressing the balance. Please help us to spread the word so that these #WomensWrites are appreciated and preserved long into the future. Join the campaign by sharing your own favourite quotes and facts by women writers.
Each month, we will be choosing a woman writer of the month to champion. The first of these will be Eliza Haywood, the subject of our exhibition Naming Shaming, Reclaiming: The ‘incomparable’ Eliza Haywood, which opens here on 20 March 2017, and we will be posting about her prolific writing career later today.