The Currer Bell trick...

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The Currer Bell trick...

The Booker shortlist has been announced and there is only one woman on it. It reminded me of something I’d read in Mslexia…

‘In a now-famous experiment by Philip Goldberg in the Seventies, manuscripts by John T McKay were consistently judged as cleverer, better, superior in every way to identical manuscripts by Joan T McKay.’

It’s part of an article about the relative lack of women in print which points to other issues such as, lack of time, confidence etc. Worth a read:

It also made me realise that most of the books I read are from male authors. I have no idea why that is (as two of my *all time* favourite writers are female). It could have something to do with what’s available. In an interview, I remember a female author bemoaning the fact that her publisher kept on at her to add more of a romantic angle to her (non-romance) novel because that was what women readers expect from a female author. Hmmm.


J.K. Rowling, P.D.James... I think your case is proven; by the success of these writers' coming while still hid behind the desexing initials, that is. Of course, once your market is found, the cat can come out of the bag, as it were.

Gibbous House:  Ewan's First Novel
No Good Deed :  Ewan's Second Novel "the same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse"

fascinating stuff there lou ... i read mainly women's novels, probably more women's poetry than men's and not really any non fiction. the stuff about reviews is very interesting as is all the stuff about expectation affecting performance and so on ... hmmm will think more about this ...
Yep, I agree, Ewan - I think I might go for the 'initials' option... if I ever finish the darn book that is... And yes, Fish, the review stats took me back somewhat! It’s not just that reviews attract the attention of readers – whether a book’s blurb can carry a review quote or not is a huge consideration when booksellers choose which paperbacks to stock, apparently. So, despite the stats showing that women buy and read more books than men, most of the reviewers are men and most of the books they review are by male authors… It’s this perpetual sidelining… Okay, sorry, I’m going to rant now but this has bugged me for years… I took a module during my degree called, Theories of Human Nature. We had a senior lecturer who ran through all the major thinkers concerning man’s place in the world. Well, he kept saying Man but obviously I took him to mean Human. Slotted in amongst the main lectures were a couple given by a young female PHD student on the women’s view of human nature. The lecture hall was half empty for these lectures. They were the ones to skip – she was new and it showed and besides, there wasn’t much published material to work from. The only thing I remember her saying was that John Stuart Mill (on whom we had devoted an entire lecture previously) had credited his wife Harriet Taylor with having equal input into all his published works. It wasn’t until the final lecture that my jaw hit the floor. In summing up the course, the senior lecturer declared that the most recent development in Man’s view of Man was the change from seeing Man as Master of his world to seeing him as an integral and equal part of it. He attributed this change to the rise in awareness of the rights of animals… and women! Shit! It wasn’t just semantics – he had meant ‘Man’ all along! Felt a change of course title was required at the very least… ~
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