The Feminist Companion to Literature in English

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present is a biographical dictionary about women writers.

Companion was edited by Virginia Blain, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy.[1] It was published in 1990 by Batsford (now Pavilion Books) in the UK and Yale University Press in the US.[2] It took about ten years to complete and was based mainly on research completed specifically for the project.[1][3]

Companion includes about 2,700 entries about women writers and associated topics such as genres and literary movements.[1] Only writing in English is covered but the project's geographic scope is wide.[3] Temporally, Companion covers writers from the Middle Ages to about 1985.[4]

Entries focus on biographical details over literary criticism,[5] seeking to show the lives from which women's writing emerged.[6] The editors included entries on writing not typically considered literary, such as diaries and letters, in order to counteract received narratives of what literature can be.[7] Companion emphasizes women's relationships with one another and lists mothers before fathers when describing a subject's parentage.[8]

Collaborators on Companion later created Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present, an online reference source about women's writing published by Cambridge University Press.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Harris 1992, p. 383.
  2. ^ Brown, Susan; Clements, Patricia; Grundy, Isobel; Balazs, Sharon; Antoniuk, Jeffrey (2007). "The Story of the Orlando Project: Personal Reflections". Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature. 26 (1): 135–143. doi:10.2307/20455313. ISSN 0732-7730. JSTOR 20455313.
  3. ^ a b "Other New Books". Comparative Literature. 43 (1): 112. 1991. ISSN 0010-4124. JSTOR 1771011.
  4. ^ Butcher, Patricia Smith (1991). "Review of The Feminist Companion to Literature in English". RQ. 31 (1): 98. ISSN 0033-7072. JSTOR 25828955.
  5. ^ Barry 1991, p. 276.
  6. ^ Pearce, Jan (28 November 1990). "Slaves, preachers and revolutionaries". The Age – via
  7. ^ Harris 1992, p. 384.
  8. ^ Heilbrun, Carolyn G. (27 January 1991). "Review of Feminist Companion to Literature in English". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  9. ^ Freeman, Lisa A. (2012). "Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present (review)". The Scriblerian and the Kit-Cats. 45 (1): 87–89. doi:10.1353/scb.2012.0028. ISSN 2165-0624. S2CID 161291799. Project MUSE 492443.

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