The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Women's Writing

The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Women's Writing

The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Women's Writing

The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Women's Writing


Explores women's writing in Scotland across a range of periods and genres.

From early modern to contemporary writing, these 15 essays examine women's engagement with different areas of literary production and discuss the implications of their literary output for our wider understanding of Scottish literature. The contributors consider the ways in which women writers worked with 'feminine' arenas such as spirituality, oral culture, domestic fiction and the 'private' writing of letters and diaries, as well as with the traditionally 'masculine' areas of Enlightenment culture and the periodical press. They offer insights into women's role within Gaelic culture, women's negotiations of space, place and national identities and their appropriations of specific forms, such as supernatural, detective and historical fiction. They also provide analysis of writing by Margaret Oliphant, Janet Hamilton, Marion Angus, Catherine Carswell, Naomi Mitchison, Dorothy Dunnett, Denise Mina, A. L. Kennedy, Ali Smith, Liz Lochhead and Kathleen Jamie amongst others.

Glenda Norquayis Professor of Scottish Literary Studies at Liverpool John Moores University. Her books include Robert Louis Stevenson and Theories of Reading and the edited collection Across the Margins (with Gerry Smyth).


The fourth tranche of the Companion series marks in its own way the underlying themes of the series as whole: Scottish literature is multivalent, multilingual and vibrant. Each volume also reflects the series ethos: to challenge, set new perspectives and work towards defining differences of canon in Scottish literature. Such definition of difference must always be sensitive and each volume in the 2012 tranche shows not only the confidence of upto-date, leading-edge scholarship, but the flexibility of nuanced thought that has developed in Scottish literary studies in recent years. a tranche which balances a volume on women’s writing with volumes on two major male writers subverts, even on the most superficial reading, any version of an older tradition which depended on a canon based on ‘great’ writers, mostly, if not exclusively, male. in approaching Scott and Hogg, contributors have demonstrated fresh thinking and recontextualised their work, opening them to new insights and enjoyment, while the authors in the volume on Women’s Writing reinterpret and reorganise the very structures of thought through which we experience the writing explored.

Scott, often in the past taken to represent a stuffy old-fashioned maledominated literary canon, is revisited, reassessed and brought to our minds anew. One is reminded of the remark of the great European scholar Martin Esslin to one of the series editors that Scott was the greatest artist in any art form of the nineteenth century. Such a statement may embody the generalising attitudes of an older generation, but Esslin’s argument was based not just on Scott’s range and innovations, but on the importance of his influence on his successors, not just in literature but in other arts. Hogg, meantime, has often previously suffered by comparison with Scott, misunderstood and misread in ways that the Hogg volume makes clear as it demystifies past perceptions and opens new vistas on his work’s scope. the Scottish Women’s Writing volume completes a trio of innovative Companions in its range of disparate viewpoints. Avoiding easy categories or theories, these demonstrate with rigour and vigour that, though in some genres, like drama, women’s writing has had a difficult time historically, it has, not least in the Gaelic . . .

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