Monday, 17 November 2008

The Home-Maker and The Home-Wrecker

Just to make people jealous... I'm going tomorrow to London, to the fourth Persephone Lecture. I haven't managed to get to the others - where previous speakers have been Penelope Lively, Hermione Lee (my supervisor for my thesis!) and Salley Vickers - but shall be attending 'The Home-Maker and The Home-Wrecker: Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Susan Glaspell, and 20th Century American Women Writers' by Elaine Showalter. Quite a combination there - one made perfectly for Elaine from Random Jottings, who very, very kindly bought me a ticket and will be going with me. For those not in the know, The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, and Fidelity and Brook Evans by Susan Glaspell, are novels published by Persephone Books. They're rather good, especially The Home-Maker, which is about a ruthlessly efficient mother and wife who is forced to let her husband become a househusband when he is injured and becomes a wheelchair user. From 1924, it is very ahead of its time in gender/job ideas - even ahead of today, I'd say. While a lot has been done to level the field in gender equality at work (still some way to go, of course) there is still enormous stigma attached to a househusband, and men don't really have the career/housework and parenting choice which is becoming open to more and more women, and so often debated.

But I don't think it's the plight of men which Elaine Showalter will address, and that's fine. She's probably best known (to me, anyway) as the author of A Literature of Their Own, about British women novelists, though I've been using it recently in regards the South African writer Olive Schreiner.

(As an aside, I know men have dominated literary history, but I was thinking the other day... my knowledge of it is swayed completely towards female writers. Those were the choices I made both academically and recreationally... which is really good on one hand, but means I'm quite ignorant of the path for male writers through the ages! And if I had to label three genii in writing... it would be Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Virginia Woolf. Women are winning...)

Anyway - I fully expect to have a fascinating evening, and will report back in due course - might not be until Thursday, as I'm spending Wednesday catching up with friends who've moved to London. And don't they all eventually!


  1. It's not the Persephone lecture that makes me jealous, it's the fact that Hermione Lee was your supervisor!!!

  2. Have a great time, it sounds wonderful!! I've yet to read either of those books, though I do own one of Susan Glaspell's and I recently checked out a (non-Persephone edition) copy of The Home-Maker. Don't quiet know when I'll read either, but isn't that always the case. And the Showalter is on my wish list--I'm right there with you on preferring women authors. Looking forward to hearing all the details.

  3. Friends who move to London tend to move out again eventually!


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