Culture: Champion of Women Writers; on Its 10th Anniversary, Mslexia Magazine Is Celebrating the Privileged Place It Has Earned in the Hearts of Thousands of Writers, as Tamzin Lewis Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Tamzin Lewis

LAUNCHED from a run-down bedsit 10 years ago, Mslexia had high aspirations but a low budget.

It was established as a campaigning literary magazine for women who write, which aimed at breaking down barriers within the book world.

A decade later and based in a proper office in Newcastle, with an all-female staff and board, Mslexia has charted a shift within British publishing.

Founder and novelist Debbie Taylor says: "Things are changing and the book world has woken up to the fact that women buy around two-thirds of fiction.

"There are more women editors now than there were 10 years ago. The Orange Prize for women's fiction has also been important and it is unusual now to have an all-male judging panel for a book prize.

"I would like to think that Mslexia helped to change things."

A former editor of the radical publication New Internationalist, Debbie, who lives in a lighthouse in North Shields, established Mslexia after becoming a mum. "I have always been involved in women's politics and as a new mother suddenly my life changed," she says.

"Due to the amount of time and responsibility motherhood takes, I realised that it is very difficult to be a writer and a mother.

"This realisation was like being hit in the stomach. I thought I would never write another word! It was a political awakening. I had been writing about women's issues for years, and it was the experience of being a mother that encouraged me to start Mslexia."

Debbie received support from Northern Arts (now Arts Council England, North East) and the Lottery Fund to set up the magazine and employed two part-time staff.

Mslexia's first edition, with a cover by the late British artist Beryl Cook, was launched in March 199, on International Women's Day.

With its mix of campaigns, creative writing, practical advice, author contributions, reviews and features, the magazine quickly attracted 1,000 subscribers and created a community of women writers in the UK.

Debbie says: "It was such a challenge but I was completely absorbed in it. …


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