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Helen Taylor: Why Women Read Fiction

25th March 2020
Venue: The Oundle Suite, Fletton House, Glapthorn Road, Oundle PE8 4JA
Time: 7.30 - 8.30pm

In a fascinating new book, Helen Taylor, teacher, scholar of women’s writing, and literary festival director, examines just how precious fiction is to contemporary British women readers and offers candid insights into the challenges female writers often face, including publishers’ expectations and critics’ assumptions.

Ian McEwan once said, 'When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.' Female readers are key to the future of fiction and - as parents, teachers, and librarians - the glue for a literate society. Women treasure the chance to read alone, but also have gregariously shared reading experiences and memories with mothers, daughters, grandchildren, and female friends. For so many, reading novels and short stories enables them to escape and to spread their wings intellectually and emotionally.

Why Women Read Fiction draws on over 500 interviews with and questionnaires from women readers and writers. It describes how, where, and when British women read fiction, and examines why stories and writers influence the way female readers understand and shape their own life stories. Taylor explores why women are the main buyers and readers of fiction, members of book clubs, attendees at literary festivals, and organisers of days out to fictional sites and writers' homes. The book analyses the special appeal and changing readership of the genres of romance, erotica, and crime. It also illuminates the reasons for British women's abiding love of two favourite novels, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. Taylor offers a cornucopia of witty and wise women's voices, of both readers themselves and also writers such as Hilary Mantel, Helen Dunmore, Katie Fforde, and Sarah Dunant.

The book helps us understand why - in Jackie Kay's words - 'our lives are mapped by books.'

Helen Taylor is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Exeter, Honorary Fellow of the British Association of American Studies, and Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow 2016-18. She is author of several books. Curator, Chair, and participant in many literature festivals, and she was the first Director of the Liverpool Literary Festival, 2016 and 2018.

Please consider your own favourite book from childhood, or a book that means a great deal to you for whatever reason and come with a willingness to share your thoughts.

Tickets £8 (£6), £1 off early bird tickets bought before 18th March, available from the Oundle Box Office, 4 New Street, Oundle.

Open hours: 10.00am – 4.00pm Mon to Fri: Tel 01832 274734, online at www.oundlefestival.org.uk

Any queries call Helen on 07743988181 or email oundlelitfestival@hotmail.co.uk