Harriett B. StoweWords matter. Conjured into stories, they are powerful. And after writing systems developed some 5000 years ago and words were engraved into stone as a permanent, definitive ‘truth’, their power became mighty.

In cultures worldwide, myths claim fertility as a gift of goddesses, but writing came from gods, its potency controlled by kings and priests. Writing became a tool of dominance with the potential to recast history and command the future. Read the news any day to see that this is still the case.

Until the last few hundred years, women were rarely allowed sufficient education to either read or write literature which, for centuries, was written in elite languages of scholarship: in Europe, Latin and Greek; in Japan and China, classical Chinese; and in India, Sanskrit and Persian. Boccaccio took the innovative step of writing his Decameron in the vernacular specifically so that women could enjoy his delightfully ‘naughty’ stories. But only upper class women were literate.

Little wonder that ‘famous’ women writers in the past are hard to find.

Recognition came to a few. The accolade for the world’s first novelist could..[read complete article]

[Article written as a guest post for Women Writers Women’s Books website]

Invisible Women in the History of Literature