Mapping Feminist Book Fortnight: Regional Activism and the Feminist Book Trade in 1980s Britain

Careless, Eleanor (2022) Mapping Feminist Book Fortnight: Regional Activism and the Feminist Book Trade in 1980s Britain. Women: A Cultural Review, 33 (3). pp. 280-313. ISSN 0957-4042

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Feminist Book Fortnight was a signal event in the history of feminist publishing, but its history has not yet been written. Throughout the latter half of the 1980s, the Fortnight promoted feminist literature in the UK and Ireland and helped to sustain and power a revolution in feminist publishing. Drawing on the archives of Spare Rib magazine, this article analyses the often-fierce tension between the Fortnight’s activist aims and its commercial imperatives, and maps out the distinctive regionalism of this annual book trade promotion. Books and literature were of vital importance to the women’s movement and Feminist Book Fortnight supported the expansion of the feminist literary marketplace outside London. As I will show, the Fortnight navigated not only between the activist margins and the commercial mainstream, but between isolated feminist outposts and metropolitan centres. Combining feminist digital geography with oral histories and literary analysis, this article concentrates not on women readers or authors but on the workings of the industry which mediated the production and consumption of feminist literature at this time. I argue that the Fortnight’s complex renegotiation of extant publishing practices (Murray 2017, 814), both commercial and regional, constituted its most significant contribution to the larger feminist movement.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: I’m grateful to my colleagues on the Business of Women’s Words project, especially Margaretta Jolly and Lucy Delap for their valuable and generous feedback on this article; to Jane Anger, Jane Cholmeley, Gail Chester, Ferha Farooqui, Gay Jones, and Jane Watts for generously sharing their memories and personal archives; to all those who have granted kind permission to reproduce images; and to the Leverhulme Trust [grant number RPG-2017-218] and Northumbria University for funding the project.
Uncontrolled Keywords: women’s liberation movement, feminist publishing, Feminist Book Fortnight, Spare Rib, feminist geography
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2022 08:46
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2023 17:15

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