Showing posts with label women writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women writers. Show all posts

Thursday 20 February 2014

Women Writers

Katharine Quarmby

Recently historical fiction has been selling well with the success of such series as George RR Martin's Game of Thrones which combines fantasy and history for vivid effect and also Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies.   

Many of the writers of historical fiction happen to be women and they have found that in order to achieve sales to men they have to publish under gender non specific names such as - SJ Parris, Al Berridge, MJ Carter, MC Scott. 
As stated in the Sunday Times magazine (P.Nicol Dec 2013) when writer Miranda Scott published her Rome espionage series as Miranda her readership was 80% female/ 20% male, yet when she published as MC Scott her readers shifted to 50/ 50 male/female.  
Philippa Gregory author of the White Queen holds 7 of the top 20 titles and Cornwell is the only male author in the top 15 of best selling historical fiction. . 

It should be noted also (!)  that not ALL women writers of historical fiction are writing romance tales and that some write of bloody war adventures and intrigue. 
Women will read male writers and watch male movies and it helps women to understand the male psyche. A male writer wrote recently that if men want to understand women then they should read the books on women's book shelves and watch the tv and films that women enjoy!  

Cathy Renzenbrink, reviewer The Bookseller, ' While more women read books, there is more attention in book-review pages to books written by men.  Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies, the second in her Thomas Cromwell series, was a best seller in 2013.  She holds the top and third place in the best sellers list and she says,' It is the nature of the World that men and women take men more seriously.'
(Some of my photos of women writers at Edinburgh Book festival)

Elif Şafak

Noo Sara-Wiwa

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Woman and Art

I read recently about Beverly Martyn (or Bev Kutner) who had worked with Paul Simon, Nick Drake and Jimmy Page before she met John. I was surprised to hear of their song writing collaborations, her being a partnership with John Martyn and then her being left at home with the children, a home on top of a hill. A home she didn't even choose. Apparently John Martyn wrote his best songs with Beverly Kutner, his wife, which she gets little credit for.  Beverly and Martyn recorded three albums together  - Stormbringer, Road to Ruin and Bless the Weather - before John was persuaded by the record label to go solo. She played piano while they wrote songs together for the album Solid Air.  John said that he would credit her 'on the next song.' Beverly was then left on the house on the hill to raise their children while John toured. When John turned to drink he became abusive towards her and after one threatening scene Bev decided to leave him after ten years of marriage.
....and yet John wrote the deeply caring song 'May You Never', all very poignant really.  
Beverly and John Martyn

I also used to wonder about the artist Margaret Macintosh, the wife of the better known Glasgow artist Rennie Macintosh. She was first a collaborator with her sister, and later with her husband, the architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Macdonald was celebrated in her time by many of her peers, including her husband who wrote, "Remember, you are half if not four-quarters of all my architectural...Margaret has genius, I have only talent." It is not known exactly which of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's works Margaret was involved with but she is credited with being an important part of her husband's figurative, symbolic interior designs.  These include the Rose Boudoir at the International Exhibition at Turin, the designs for House for an Art Lover and the Willow Tea Rooms. Her best known works include the panel The May Queen, which was made to partner Mackintosh's panel The Wassail for Miss Cranston's Ingram Street Tearooms, and Oh ye, all ye that walk in Willowood, which formed part of the decorative scheme for the Room de Luxe in the Willow Tearooms. Together with her husband, her sister, and Herbert MacNair, she was one of the most influential members of the collective known as the Glasgow Four. She exhibited with Mackintosh at the 1900 Vienna Secession, where she was arguably an influence on the Secessionists Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffmann.
Panel by Margaret Macintosh

There have been some outstanding women photographers.  
Great Women Photographers include Eve Arnold and Dorothea Lange (Migrant Mother).
Migrant worker by Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange 1895 – 1965 was an American photo journalist, best known for her Depression Era work for the Farm Security Administration ( FSA).  Her photographs drew attention to the plight of migrant farm workers, rural poverty and exploitation of share croppers. Her husband, economist Paul Taylor, interviewed and took economic data over the plight of migrant workers while she photographed and they documented rural poverty and the exploitation of share croppers and migrant labourers.  Her photos led aid being sent to the camps. Eve Arnold, 1912 - 2012 was an American photojournalist. She joined Magnum Photos agency in 1951 and became a full member in 1957. Her interest in photography began in 1946 while working in a photo-finishing plant and she learned photographic skills from at the New School for Social Research; She went on to photograph many iconic figures – including Marilyn Monroe. She left the United States and moved permanently to England in the early 1960s. While working for the London Sunday Times, she began to make serious use of colour photography. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Magazine Photographers. She did a series of portraits of American First Ladies. She received an OBE in 2003.
Photographer Eve Arnold
There are many great women writers -  Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, more. I attend the Edinburgh International Book festival (EIBF) each year and in the book world there is a true equality - its' all about the craft and substance. 
In music in recent years there has been a rise in woman musicians gaining attention, as opposed to decorative woman singers. In the UK in particular there has been new strong solo women who play, write and perform – Adele and Emeli Sande.   
Emeli Sande

I have read of many out standing woman artists down the years – the question is how many of them have been able to break thorough and most have been left in the shadows of their better known partners. The women have been left with the day to day chores of raising children and keeping the home going. Of course being a mother is and should be the most rewarding  job of all - and it is. I have raised three children and it is also very demanding (!) on a woman's time and energies. In the UK in particular, the role of homemaker as it is known in the States, is undervalued and not treated with the respect the role deserves. In America mothers are given more respect as they are after all the bedrock of society. I don't know why.

Even in today's world of equality were many women are the main wage earners it falls to their lot to also be the main homemakers too. So this is a few words here to the forgotten woman artists and writers.. and a special few to those woman who are breaking free.
Perhaps women need to feel they can be equals in the creative arts - particularly in art and music. 
To name but a few of the great women behind the men. I am certain there are many many more. 

Marilyn Munroe by Eve Arnold