Women writers suffer in male-dominated literary world

Bestselling author Elizabeth Jane Howard says literary world is the 'worst for women' compared to other arts

The literary world is ‘probably the worst’ for women compared to the other arts, according to Elizabeth Jane Howard (pictured), author of the Cazalet Chronicles.

According to Howard, little has changed for female writers since the 19th century. George Eliot used a pen name to get her books published in the 1800s, and two centuries later novelists such as Booker prize-winning A.S. Byatt and Harry Potter author J.K Rowling chose to use gender-neutral pen names.

Howard claims women are disadvantaged because men do not want them to succeed. She told The Telegraph: ‘I feel because we started writing novels really before men on the whole, they don’t want us to even be good at that.’

The sexist views that Howard is referring to were displayed by writer V.S. Naipaul in 2011, who told The Guardian newspaper that he believed that female writers were ‘unequal’ to him, and dismissed their work as ‘sentimental’ and ‘feminine tosh’.

She argues that the literary industry is essentially a man’s world, saying that male critics and editors are ‘more sympathetic to the work of men’.

Howard said: ‘A talented male writer would have an easier journey than a talented female writer, who might very well get bad reviews. It depends enormously who reviews the work.’

Do you agree with Howard? Let us know in the comments below.

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