Women Writers

My work on women artists and writers (apart from Virginia Woolf) includes:

(with Rose Little) “‘In a Different Light’: Imagining Greece in Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Pym”, in Greece in British Women’s Literary Imagination 1913–2013, ed. Eleni Papargyriou et al. (Peter Lang, 2017).  [Abstract].

“Women Writers and Readers in the Oxford English Dictionary” at the Conference British Women Writers Conference, University of Wisconsin-Madison, April 2002.   [Abstract]

“Why Did Suffragettes Attack Works of Art?” Journal of Women’s History, 2 (1991), 109-25.

“Feminist Criticism: The Common Pursuit”, New Literary History, 19 (1987), 51-62.

“The Art of Alice Munro: The Beggar Maid and Lives of Girls and Women”, Critique, 25 (1984), 189-98.

Cranford: Cow in Grey Flannel or Lion Couchant?”, Studies in English Literature, 24 (1984), 717-29.

“Feminist Criticism: The Common Pursuit”, New Literary History, 19 (1987), 51-62.

For the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography I wrote entries for Mary Newton, the painter, and Lucy Garnett, the traveller and ethnographer.

In a Different Light: Imagining Greece in Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Pym

By Rowena Fowler and Rose Little*

The chapter explores the importance of Greece in the lives and writings of Elizabeth Taylor (1912–1975) and her friend and contemporary Barbara Pym (1913–1980).  Both are often thought of as quintessentially English novelists, yet for them, as for their fictional characters, the experience of Greece—whether comic or poignant—casts a new light on national manners and assumptions.   Each writer is treated individually, but common points emerge.  We begin with their knowledge of ancient Greece before discussing their growing awareness of the continuing existence of the modern country. 

Drawing on eight of Taylors’s novels and two stories, and on Pym’s novel A Few Green Leaves alongside her letters and unpublished travel diaries, we trace the ways they shaped their responses to Greece into narrative.  Taylor assimilated patterns of Greek myth and tragedy into everyday English settings but admitted that exposure to the contemporary Greek world could disorient and perturb.  Pym, with characteristic shrewdness, exposes the ironies and pitfalls of philhellenic self-discovery.  Both Taylor and Pym offer new ways of experiencing Greece and putting it into words.  Just as their imagined country looked different in the stark light of the Mediterranean their travels challenged their sense of themselves as women and as writers. 

Published in Greece in British Women's Literary Imagination 1913-2013, ed. Eleni Papargyriou et al. (Peter Lang, 2017), pp. 47-65.

* Rose Little is a freelance writer and scholar.  She has edited the letters of Elizabeth Taylor to Barbara Pym.