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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 30, 2022

Authors of Slender Means? Female Authorship in Mid-Twentieth-Century British Fiction

  • Ingo Berensmeyer EMAIL logo


This article examines women writers as characters in British novels and stories by women writers from the 1940s to the early 1960s. In works by Muriel Spark, Elizabeth Taylor, Mary Renault, and others, there is a reflection on the social and artistic positions available to female authors. Given the gender segregation of the literary field at mid-century, in which ‘womanly’ writing was associated with the commercial form of romance and ‘manly’ writing with seriousness, the predicament of female authorship is rarely explored in fiction. But when it is, fictional women authors point up the constraints and limits of a ‘feminine’ literary aesthetic in illuminating ways. The article reconstructs how mid-twentieth-century British women authors thought about the act of writing, how they viewed the fields of literary creation and production, and which narrative strategies they used to negotiate this difficult terrain.

Corresponding author: Prof. Dr. Ingo Berensmeyer, English Department, University of Munich, Schellingstr. 3 (RG), 80799 Munich, Germany, E-mail:

Funding source: German Research Foundation 10.13039/501100001659

Award Identifier / Grant number: 264357303


Research for this article was supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG, project 264357303). For their helpful comments, I would like to thank Dorothee Birke, Gero Guttzeit, Leonie Kappus, Georgina Nugent-Folan, and Sonja Trurnit.

  1. Research funding: German Research Foundation (264357303) 10.13039/501100001659.


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Published Online: 2022-11-30
Published in Print: 2022-12-16

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