Feminist Book Fortnight 2022 launches with publication of Feminist Book Fortnight: A Short History

At Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham, Tuesday, 10 May 2022

A new history of a pioneering feminist book promotion of the 1980s, Feminist Book Fortnight, was published as this year’s revived event got underway.

Feminist Book Fortnight 2022 featured events across the country from 14-28 May.

It was launched with a livestreamed event from Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham on Tuesday 10 May 2022.

Bookseller Jane Anger and the history’s author Eleanor Careless explored the Fortnight’s history, its activist aims, distinctive regionalism, and relationship with the capitalist literary marketplace.

Feminist Book Fortnight initially ran from 1984-1991, evolving from the flourishing women’s movements of the time. It was revived in 2018 by radical bookseller Jane Anger and colleagues at Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham, with events in the UK and abroad.

Feminist Book Fortnight: A Short History has been written by former Sussex University research fellow Dr Eleanor Careless, supported by Professor Margaretta Jolly as part of the Leverhulme-funded project ‘The Business of Women’s Words: Purpose and Profit in Feminist Publishing’.

The history weaves together oral histories from feminist booksellers and activists, original archival findings, and the nationwide network of Fortnight events revealed by the Spare Rib map (developed as part of ‘The Business of Women’s Words project and hosted by the British Library).

Margaretta Jolly, Professor of Cultural Studies in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex, said: “It is wonderful to see the return of this celebration of all things feminist, womanist and bookish. It’s equally wonderful to learn more about the history of Feminist Book Fortnight.”

Feminist Book Fortnight ran from 14-28 May 2022. Details of all the associated programming, can be found on Feminist Book Fortnight’s website.

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The Fab Feminist Festive Fair 9 Dec 2021

Karolina Szpyrko, PhD researcher at the School of Media, Arts, and Humanities, writes:

“I loved getting involved in this pre-holiday showcase of ethical, feminist business at the University of Sussex.

Our Fab Feminist Festive Fair brought together educational and sales stalls (The Feminist Bookshop, The Craft Society, The New Internationalist, The Careers and Entrepreneurship Centre, Leave No Trace Society), and I designed a follow-on Crafty Workshop with activist badge-making and festive crafts.

The Students’ Union kindly supported the fair, hosting it in Falmer House Reception. Its lively, central feel worked very well with our fair, making it into a little neighbourly market with snacks, activist-inspired gifts, crafts and other curiosities as well as chats about ethical business, feminism and winter holidays.

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Mapping feminist loneliness

Feminism is sustained by collective organising but women have often been driven to campaign by a sense of loneliness. This is my surprising finding while working with The Business of Women’s Words project (BOWW) and exploring the hidden history of feminist enterprise in the many independent magazines, journals, imprints, bookshops and other small creative businesses which the movement enabled – and which also enabled the movement, despite a general antipathy to capitalism.

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Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights

BOWW has made a significant contribution to the British Library’s new landmark exhibition, Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights, which shows how feminist activism in the UK today has roots in a long, complex and compelling history of struggle.

The BOWW principal investigator Margaretta Jolly, Professor of Cultural Studies in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities, co-edited the exhibition book, working with Dr Polly Russell, lead curator at the British Library.

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Selling ‘books that change lives’: Talking to Gail Hewison of The Feminist Bookshop, Sydney

By Rosa Campbell

In the oral history interviews I have recorded with those involved in the Australian Women’s Liberation Movement, The Feminist Bookshop, Sydney, comes up again and again. Jane Bullen, active in Canberra Women’s Liberation, spoke of coming to Sydney for a weekend “part of what you did was go to The Feminist Bookshop and pick up a little pile of books which were not available anywhere else.” Gail Shelston, the first Women’s Officer for The Teacher’s Federation – the NSW teaching union- remarked that this bookshop “was there for me at every stage of my life. It was there for me, you know.”

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The commerce of romance: from Edwardian to Second Wave feminism

The talk I gave on Friday 14 June 2019 at the National is about courtship and forbidden love in the Edwardian period (mostly) and is linked to the theatre’s showing of Githa Sowerby’s Rutherford and Son (1912). It’s a fascinating play for its contribution to one of the hottest debates around marriage and society at the time: the way patriarchy, capitalism and the logics of family finance and consolidation all conspired to make marriage a ‘trade’ in which women, essentially property, inevitably got ripped off. 

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Feminist Maps and Mapping Feminism

Feminist Maps and Mapping Feminism: Lessons from The Women’s Atlas

Sussex Humanities Lab with the CLHLWR

With legendary geographer Joni Seager

Thursday 23 May 2019, 15.00-17.00pm

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The Virago Story – an interview with Catherine Riley

Earlier in the summer D-M caught up with Catherine Riley whose new book The Virago Story: Assessing the Impact of a Feminist Publishing Phenomenon was published this year by Berghahn Books.
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Feminist Book Fortnight 1984 and 2018: An interview with Jane Anger

Jane Anger is a feminist who has worked in the booktrade for 40 years. She helped found the legendary Silver Moon Bookshop and was an early member of Women in Publishing, a feminist network for women in the book business. In 2018 she coordinated the revival of an iconic initiative of the 1980s, Feminist Book Fortnight. As she explains to BOWW lead, Margaretta Jolly:

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‘Academic dyke, 25, feminist, non-scene, seeks similar’: Personal Ads in Spare Rib

Spare Rib – the iconic magazine of the UK Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, offered a small pleasure to readers looking for ‘love among the small ads’, despite its complex relationship to both advertising and romantic relationships. It started out with a minimal classified section and no personals (SR’s early classified pages ran to about half a page), but by the 1980s the classified section was a double-page spread, with ‘relationships’ the longest and – of course – the most eye-catching category.
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