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!