The Literary Battle of the Sexes, 1907-StyleBreaking News
tags: gender, books, womens history, literary history
“The rivalry of the sexes!” blared a Times headline from 1905. “Is woman crowding out man in the field of fiction?” The paper posed that question to a handful of top publishers, editors and booksellers.
“What woman can write as Shakespeare? Can any woman ever write a ‘Robinson Crusoe’? Did any woman ever live who could have written ‘Huckleberry Finn’? ... And what woman could possibly have written ‘Jude’?” harrumphed the bookseller Simon Brentano.
The publisher George H. Putnam dismissed the query as “absurd,” telling the paper that there were more men and women “doing excellent literary work” than ever before, “and the more both of them do the better.”
By 1907, things had changed. Women, the paper pointed out, had “been busy with their pens ... scribbling industriously, and, in plenty of cases, doing good work” for years. But with a few exceptions — Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë — male authors had long ruled book sales, “marching along proudly, without worrying about competitors in the weaker sex.”
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump administration says joint UNC, Duke Middle East Studies program portrays Islam too positively
- What White Kids Learn About Race in School
- Frederick Douglass photos smashed stereotypes. Could Elizabeth Warren selfies do the same?
- Chronicling New York’s Muslim History
- New Documents Illuminate The University of Texas’s Secret Strategy to Keep Out Black Students
- Women Scientists Were Written Out of History. It’s Margaret Rossiter’s Lifelong Mission to Fix That
- Allen C. Guelzo Reviews Sidney Blumenthal's Latest Installment of His Biography of Lincoln
- What Reconstruction-Era Laws Can Teach Our Democracy: The NY Times Reviews Eric Foner's Latest Book
- Should historians read their own book?
- Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75