Contemporary Women’s Writing

Acheson, J. & Ross, S. C. E. eds., 2005. The Contemporary British Novel. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

An informative range of essays offering a critique of 20th century British novels including key texts by female writers including A.S. Byatt, Pat Barker, Angela Carter, Rose Tremain, Jeanette Winterson and Zadie Smith.

Alexander, F., 1989. Contemporary Women Novelists. London: Edward Arnold.

Alexander’s book examines the role of women writing in society in the last twenty years.

Anderson, L., ed., 1990. Plotting Change: Contemporary Women’s Fiction. London: Edward Arnold.

Despite being nearly eighteen years old, this important text explores the ways in which contemporary women’s writing has frequently sought to refresh itself with new and diverse writing strategies.

Armitt, L., 2000. Contemporary Women’s Fiction and the Fantastic. Basingstoke: MacMillan Press.

An insightful exploration of the ways in which the fantastic has influenced contemporary women’s writing. Includes discussion of Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson and Fay Weldon, amongst others.

Ashley, B, ed., 1997. Reading Popular Narratives: A Source Book. London: Leicester University Press.

Essays and excerpts from a range of discourses that examine how to read popular texts and approach the contemporary genre.

Bentley, N., 2005. British Fiction of the 1990s. London: Routledge.

An insightful examination of the predominant themes of 1990’s fiction including millennial anxieties and identity politics. Includes commentary on female novelists such as Pat Barker, A.S. Byatt, Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson.

Bradbury, M., 1990. The Novel Today: Contemporary Writers on Modern Fiction. London: Fontana.

Commentaries and reflections on a range of contemporary writers including Carter, Lessing and Murdoch.

Childs, P., 2005. Contemporary Novelists: British Fiction Since 1970. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

An analysis of a range of contemporary writers focusing on their most studied works. Includes specific chapters on Pat Barker, Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson.

Duncker, P., 1992. Sisters and Strangers: An Introduction to Contemporary Feminist Fiction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Duncker’s important text examines feminist fiction in a range of genres.

English, J. F. ed., 2006. A Concise Companion to Contemporary British Fiction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

An overview of the changing shape of the literary field since 1979 contextualised by an exploration of the changing social, economic, political and cultural landscapes.

Greaney, M., 2006. Contemporary Fiction and the Uses of Theory. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Greaney’s text looks at the confluence of fiction and theory, and offers insightful readings of works by Angela Carter and A.S. Byatt.

Head, D., 2002. Modern British Fiction 1950 – 2000. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

An introductory study to a range of contemporary novels situated in their historical, social and cultural contexts. Focuses mostly on male writers, but has useful material on Angela Carter, Margaret Drabble, Helen Fielding and Jeanette Winterson.

Helimann, A. & Llewelyn, M. eds., 2007. Metafiction and Metahistory in Contemporary Women’s Writing. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

An exciting collection of essays that examines the preoccupation of a number of current female writers with reconceptualisations of the past. Includes essays on A.S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Phillipa Gregory, Michèle Roberts, Sarah Waters and Jeanette Winterson.

Joannou, M., 2000. Contemporary Women’s Writing from The Golden Notebook to The Color Purple. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

An excellent historically grounded discussion of the impact of 1960’s and ‘70’s culture on contemporary women writers such as Barker, Byatt, Drabble, Lessing, Walker and Weldon.

Keen, S., 2001. Romance of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction. London: University of Toronto Press.

An exploration of the notion of archive and library research in contemporary fiction. Includes commentaries on the writing of A. S. Byatt, Josephine Tey, Penelope Lively and Margaret Drabble amongst others.

Kenyon, O., 1988. Women Novelists Today: A Survey of English Writing in the Seventies and Eighties. Sussex: The Harvester Press.

An important text that explores six female authors (Iris Murdoch, A. S. Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Fay Weldon, Kate Figes and Anita Brookner) and their different perspectives and on being contemporary writers.

King, J., 2000. Women and the Word: Contemporary Women Novelists and the Bible. Basingstoke: Macmillan Press.

King’s intriguing and engaging text explores the broad response of British and American women writers to the Bible and its myths.

Kutzbach, K & Mueller, M. eds. 2007. The Abject of Desire: The Aestheticization of the Unaesthetic in Contemporarary Literature and Culture. Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi.

A challenging text that considers the aestheticization of the unaesthetic via a range of different topics and genres in twentieth-century Anglophone literature and culture. Considers a variety of writers including Sarah Schulman, Joyce Carol Oates, Leslie Marmon Silko and Poppy Z. Brite.

Lane, R. J., Mengham, R., & Tew, P. eds., 2003. Contemporary British Fiction. London: Polity Press.

This book focuses on the development of literature since 1979 through a number of themes including as gender, identity, post-colonialism and culture. Includes useful critical essays on Jeanette Winterson, Pat Barker and Zadie Smith.

Leader, Z., 2002. On Modern British Fiction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

An exploration of post-war British fiction on issues including ‘Englishness’, conservatism and ‘lad-lit’.

Massie, A., 1990. The Novel Today: A Critical Guide to the British Novel 1970 – 1989. Essex: Longman Press.

A concise overview of the novel today in relation to the contemporary literary scene.

Mills, S., Pearce, L., Spaul, S. & Millard, E. 1998. Feminist Readings: Feminists Reading. Hemel Hempstead, Harvester Wheatshaeaf.

An advanced introduction to feminist literary criticism. This revised second edition covers new schools of thought including lesbian feminist theory and post-colonialism.

Morrison, J., 2003. Contemporary Fiction. New York: Routledge.

A good, accessible account depicting the current field of contemporary literature. Includes chapters on Angela Carter and Jeanette Winterson.

Munt, S. R., 1994. Murder by the Book? Feminism and the Crime Novel. London: Routledge.

A thorough examination of the genre of the feminist crime novel in Britain and the United States.

Neumeier, B. ed., 2001. Engendering Realism and Postmodernism: Contemporary Women Writers in Britain. Amsterdam: Rodopi .

This excellent extensive volume looks at the way in which women writers evoke female history and literary ancestry using a variety of mechanisms. Considers a vast number of writers including A. S. Byatt, Emma Tennant, Jeanette Winterson, Michèle Roberts, Maureen Duffy, Fay Weldon, Sarah Maitland, Eva Figes and Ravinda Randhawa amongst others.

O’Saxton, R., 1998. The Girl: Constructions of ‘The Girl’ in Contemporary Fiction by Women. New York: St Martin’s Press.

A rare and insightful collection of essays on girlhood by British and American women writers. The text includes exploration of themes including legacies of expectation and competing cultural ideologies.

Parker, E. ed., 2004. Contemporary British Women Writers. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.

An accessible collection of essays that explores British women’s writing from a feminist perspective. Authors discussed include Helen Fielding, Pat Barker, Maggie Gee, Jennifer Johnston, Rukhsana Ahmad, A. L. Kennedy. Chapters on lesbian and horror fiction too.

Philips, D., 2006. Women’s Fiction 1945 – 2005: Writing Romance. London: Continuum.

A chronological analysis of women’s writing since the end of the Second World War. Contains insightful scholarship on a range of sub-genres of women’s writing including age-sagas and ‘chick-lit’.

Rossen, J., 2003. Women Writing Modern Fiction: A Passion for Ideas. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

A study of the influence of feminism and modernity on contemporary women’s writing.

Sage, L., 1992. Women in the House of Fiction: Post-war women novelists. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

A study of the nostalgia associated with the ‘house of fiction’ as represented by contemporary female authors.

Sellars, S., 2001. Myth and Fairy Tale in Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Sellars explores the prevalence of mythical influences in the works of A.S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Emma Tennant and Fay Weldon among others.

Shaffer, B. W., 2006. Reading the Novel in English 1950 – 2000. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

An exploration of the key texts and concepts published in this period. Though focused on male writers, the text includes a good chapter on Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Tew, P., 2004. The Contemporary British Novel. London: Continuum.

Explores the current landscape of contemporary British writing, focusing predominantly on male writers, but offering useful discussion of Margaret Drabble, Iris Murdoch, Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson.

Tew, P., & Mengham, R. eds., 2006. British Fiction Today. London: Continuum International Publishing.

An excellent collection of critical essays on a number of British authors and novels since 1990. Includes chapters on Jeanette Winterson and Sarah Waters.

Tylee C. M. ed., 2006. ‘In the Open’: Jewish Women Writers and British Culture. Newark:  University of Delaware Press.

A rare collection of essays on Jewish women writers and British culture considering their writing in relation to their Jewish background. Includes consideration of a number of authors including Anita Brookner, Linda Grant, Denise Levertov, Mina Loy, Lily Tobias, Lynne Reid Banks and dramatist, Diane Samuels.

Watkins, S., 2001. Twentieth-Century Women Novelists: Feminist Theory intro Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

An accessible, applied exploration bringing together particular texts that shaped aspects of feminist literature with appropriate theoretical counterparts.

Werlock, A. H. P., 2000. British Women Writing Fiction. Tuscaloosa: Alabama.

A broad mix of essays on a range of older and more contemporary female writers since the 1950s/60s that explores the social, political, historical and literary influences on the writing itself.

Whelehan, I., 2005. The Feminist Bestseller. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

An engaging exploration of the impact of feminism on women’s fiction from the 1960s to the present and their influence on sub-genres including ‘chick-lit’.

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