Jump to: navigation, search

Women's writing
and participation in the literary field

This part of the website presents women authors: quantities of names entered into the database: now (May 2012) over 4000 (while two years ago they were about 2800). They can be listed and quantified in different ways: according to their nationality, language used, year of birth, genres practiced etc. These are just starting points of course. Final objective is to present and study those writers in their international context - allowing discussion of the place and role of women authors in the literary field: female celebrities as well as hitherto completely unknown or unnoticed women.

As clearly the database WomenWriters is not "complete", any interpretation or conclusion based upon it must be considered as provisional, and in need of check and further reflection. The latter is what this website is meant for.

In this project the word "author" is used in its broadest sense: a woman who wrote and published either fiction or non-fiction, books or contributions to the periodical press, her own texts or translations of writings by others, comments on others’ writings, etc. Therefore, "intermediaries" are being classified here as "authors".

This large definition is not wholly unproblematic. For example: what about oral literature? What about women, like Madame de Sévigné, who did not write for publication, but still exerted considerable influence, when the letters written to her daughter were published some 40 years after her death? These questions have been addressed during the first of the annual “NEWW November meetings”: 22 November 2007, and will be further discussed.

Authors can be (i.e. are often) classified - for the sake of their easily being found - according to their belonging to one country, culture or language. Here also problems arise, because of possible confusion or contradiction between nationality and language. This is equally under discussion.

Thanks to information entered into the database WomenWriters, these authors can also be classified according to other criteria than

These can be:

  • the year they lived in - here for instance the list of French authors active (living) in 1789,
  • their work as translators,
  • their travelling activities,
  • their activity as (in fact) scholars,
  • their writing for children,
  • etc.

Classification (and quantification) is also possible on the level of the women's works:

the authors can also be classified according to their being received in a country/countries:

  • here French authors who have been received in Spain (according to the present content of the database of course),
  • and here those French authors who were received in the Netherlands (idem),

and even according to their celebrity now:

  • authors mentioned in Lettres Européennes. Histoire de la littérature européenne (1992) - at least in the Dutch version of it (1994): 81,
  • Dutch and Flemish authors presented by literary historian Knuvelder in his manual (ed. 1982): 25,
  • authors chosen to be part of the Utrecht literary canon (2008): 9,
  • etc....

The authors' being included or not in these listings depends of course on information entered, or not, in the records concerning these women.
Please keep in mind that users who are not logged in cannot see the database in its entirety and may therefore be unable to find some of the information presented on this page.
Changes are made to the database's search functions all the time to accommodate specific needs and wishes: researchers who feel that the database is lacking certain features are encouraged to contact Suzan van Dijk in order to look at the possibilities.

SvD, May 2012

  • The production side >

Personal tools