Introduction

A Past of Her Own – History and the Modernist Woman Writer

in Critical Survey

The articles collected in this special issue were originally all delivered as papers at the ‘Hystorical Fictions: Women, History and Authorship’ conference we organised at the University of Wales, Swansea, in August 2003. When we began planning the event – writing the call for papers; contacting academics we thought might be interested in attending – we anticipated that, given the recent prominence of ‘historical fiction’ by authors such as A. S. Byatt, Tracy Chevalier, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson and others, a large number of speakers would want to focus on contemporary women writers’ uses of history. What proved most interesting, however, was the way in which this trend of, to use Adrienne Rich’s term, feminist ‘re-visioning’,1 viewed by so many critics and readers as part of a postmodern literary culture, has its roots in the modernism of the early twentieth century.

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