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Conference to focus on working-class women writers

Date 12.01.2021

A virtual conference celebrating women writers from working-class backgrounds is being hosted by the University of Northampton.

Working-class Women Write!, which will focus on those who wrote in the period 1920-2020, takes place on Friday 5 March and is free to attend.

Event organiser, Dr Sonya Andermahr, said: “While women have contributed a huge amount to literary history, most of those women came from the middle classes; working-class women rarely had either the leisure time or the educational opportunities to produce their own writing.

“In fact, the first British novel by a working-class woman, Miss Nobody by Ethel Carnie Holdsworth, was not published until 1913.

“One hundred years later, despite progress in some areas, working-class women are still very much a minority in today’s vast publishing industry.”

To reflect on this and consider the ongoing obstacles as well as new opportunities, the conference scope is writing in English by working-class women in the last century 1920-2020, in any form and medium including short fiction, poetry, novels, autobiography, journalism, essays, screen writing, blogging and other digital platforms.

The aim is to examine and celebrate the range of women writers from working-class backgrounds writing in the period and investigate the variety and character of their works in their social and political contexts. To foreground and promote contemporary working-class women’s writing, the conference will include contributions in the form of readings, screenings and talks from working-class women currently writing creatively today.

Professor Selina Todd from the University of Oxford has agreed to give the plenary talk about her work on playwright Shelagh Delaney.

A registration page for the conference will be available shortly, but you can email now for more details and to register your interest.

The conference will run from 10am to 3pm on Friday 5 March.

Pictured from left: Ethel Carnie Holdsworth, Shelagh Delaney and Andrea Levy.