I was about to write up the next of my classics posts – on Tom Jones by Henry Fielding – when it struck me that it would be the 7th classic by a man I’d posted here. (Although the 8th will be – hooray! – on Jane Austen’s Persuasion.)
When I was writing my book on classics, which is the basis of these classics posts, I was aware that I was including more books by men than by women (although I went out of my way to bring some neglected women writers into the fold) and this seemed to me to go with the territory.
But in my researches into the history of printing and my general travels around the internet and the wonderful Fisher Library since Classics was published in 2005, I’ve realised there’s way more notable fiction by women written before the 19th century than I’d realised.
Along with this realisation, I’m in a gender-imbalance-rectifying kind of mood, prompted by the Stella Prize (thanks Miles Franklin and the women of the Stella board), so I’ve decided to tip the balance a little by making 2012 the year of LOOK on bookishgirl – when I’ll be searching out Lost Or Overlooked Krackers by women writers and writing about them here.
Although Classics was devoted exclusively to the European literary tradition (I had to draw a line somewhere), for LOOK I’ll be widening my scope to the world. First up will be Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji, written between 1000 and 1012 and said to be the world’s first novel.
So stay tuned for LOOK in 2012. And any recommendations of good overlooked fiction by women, especially if written before 1800, are extremely welcome.