The Norwich branch of Waterstones has pledged only to stock books by women in its Staff Recommended section this year to mark 100 years since the first UK women gained the right to vote.
The 1918 Representation of the People Act enfranchised women over 30 for the first time in the UK’s history. Since the Act, women’s rights have increased considerably, however there is still a way to go in terms of complete equality.
In the publishing industry, women authors are cited as an influence by only 22 per cent of authors. Women also remain statistically less likely to win major awards for their writing.
The Waterstones initiative aims to contribute to a “concerted campaign to redress the inequality [in publishing],” as called for by author Kamila Shamsie.
Fiction expert Victor Meadowcroft from the Norwich Waterstones store further explained the reasoning behind this initiative, stating: “It seemed a nice idea to create a space for those authors. When you do a table of modern classics, by the time you have got all the male authors there is a limited space to put the women on, and it tends to be the same women.
“This is a way to showcase the authors from the past who didn’t get the attention they deserved, as well as those around now, and getting more momentum into this movement.”
After announcing the initiative on Twitter, several Waterstones stores across the country were quick to join in.
Books currently recommended include The Power by Naomi Alderman and The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachico, both graduates of UEA. Also recommended is White Teeth by Zadie Smith.