A few days ago we announced the winner of the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for fiction. The Bailey’s Women’s Prize was started in 1992 when a group of people within the literary community came together to discuss, and try to remedy, the incredible underrepresentation of women nominated for major literary awards. Since then, there continues to be much dialogue on the underrepresentation of women in the publishing world, but some women authors have also spoken out about the concept of a Women’s Prize.
In 1990 A.S. Byatt denounced the prize as “sexist” and “unneeded.” She claimed that “You couldn’t found a prize for male writers. The Orange prize assumes there is a feminine subject matter – which I don’t believe in. It’s honourable to believe that – there are fine critics and writers who do – but I don’t.” But what Byatt failed to account for was fact that for many years, all the major literary awards were essentially prizes for men since women were consistently being underrepresented in all these awards.
Thankfully, we seem to be making some progress in this area with women starting to be seen more frequently in major literary longlists. The question is do we still need a women’s prize today? We took a look at the last 5 years of Man Booker Awards and here is what we found. Read more