Today I am delighted to have a guest reviewer who is sharing her thoughts on The Women Writers’ Handbook. As my younger daughter Grace is currently studying Scottish Literature at Edinburgh University, I thought this was a book she would enjoy. Having read her review, I think I’ll get her to write all my reviews from now on!
As a young woman both studying literature and harbouring dreams of becoming a writer myself, it seems to me that the world of writers is a great looming circle of male literary greats. Dickens, Wilde, Shakespeare, Scott, Browning – the list of the most respected literary figures seems both to be endless and decidedly full of men. The whole industry seems overwhelmingly male with merely a few select women being let into this strange world governed by men. Although I have felt very welcomed and my voice heard in my studies and critique of literature, there seems to be precious few ways for me to become a meaningful contributor to the discipline. That is why it is so important that a book like this exists, giving guidance like this, telling stories like these, and using women’s voices to do so. Sandham offers a helping hand to all aspiring female writers to aid them in navigating their ventures into the literary world.
The Handbook offers a space to women from all backgrounds to share their stories in my favourite segment: Women’s Voices. One story that stood out to me most was told by Magda Oldziejewska in The Feminist Library. Oldziejewska recounts her experience of discovering the Feminist Library; an archive in London which exists to preserve the lives, works and memories of many women. I especially liked this piece as it shows that there does in fact exist a space for women to feel not only safe and welcomed, but actively valued in the literary world. A space where we can learn about the forgotten women who came before us and ensure that the great female powers of our time do not slip into the void of lost female writers. The importance of creating access points to the literary world for women is monumental and Sandham has so beautifully created another in her making of this Handbook.
The later segments of the Handbook (Writing Workshops and Workshop Sessions) give an incredible level of insight into the more finnicky aspects of serious writing with guides on Developing Complex Characters to Self-censorship. The frank discussion provided throughout the workshop segments is an indispensable tool for any budding author looking to get real and seriously improve the quality of their writing.
I would recommend The Women Writer’s Handbook not only to women with explicit intentions to embark on their literary careers who need some support, but to anyone who seeks to better understand both the struggles and triumphs of women in the world of literature.
My thanks to Kelly at Love Books group for my place on the tour and for providing a review copy of the book. The Women Writers’ Handbook is published by Aurora Metro Books. You can order a copy online here: The Young Writers’ Handbook
From the back of the book
A revised edition of the publisher’s inaugural publication in 1990 which won the Pandora Award from Women-in-Publishing. Inspirational in its original format, this new edition offers insight and motivation for budding writers from dozens of distinguished authors, celebrating the breadth of women’s writing in all its forms. Also includes the original writing workshops from the first edition plus quirky B/W illustrations as well as a foreword by Cheryl Robson, publisher and Managing Editor, who was a recent finalist in the ITV National Diversity Awards – Lifetime Achievement category. Aurora Metro Books was a finalist in the 2019 IPG Diversity in Publishing Awards and has a 30 year history of ground-breaking publishing, featuring both diverse and international authors.
The complete list of contributors
A.S. Byatt, Saskia Calliste, April De Angelis, Kit de Waal, Carol Ann Duffy, Sian Evans, Philippa Gregory, Mary Hamer, Jackie Kay, Shuchi Kothari, Bryony Lavery, Annee Lawrence, Roseanne Liang, Suchen Christine Lim, Jackie McCarrick, Laura Miles, Raman Mundair, Magda Oldziejewska, Kaite O’Reilly, Jacqueline Pepall, Gabi Reigh, Djamila Ribeiro, Fiona Rintoul, Jasvinder Sanghera, Anne Sebba, Kalista Sy, Debbie Taylor, Madeleine Thien, Claire Tomalin, Ida Vitale, Sarah Waters, Emma Woolf
A wide-ranging collection of over 30 essays, poems and interviews from top, international women writers, poets, screen writers and journalists.
20% of profits to go to the Virginia Woolf statue campaign.
The Virginia Woolf statue campaign: The proposed statue will be located in Richmond on Thames where Virginia and Leonard Woolf lived from 1914-1924 and set up the Hogarth Press. A public consultation by the local council was 83% in favour of the statue and planning permission has been granted to site the first life-size statue in bronze of the famous author on Richmond riverside where the author walked her dog daily. Over 20% of the £50,000 target has been raised so far.
See more at: https://www.aurorametro.org/virginia-woolf-statue
To donate to the project go here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charityweb/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=VirginiaWoolfStatue