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Travelling in Women’s History with Michèle Roberts’s Novels

Literature, Language and Culture

Maria Soraya Garcia-Sanchez

Travelling in Women’s History with Michèle Roberts’s Novels: Literature, Language and Culture is a journey to discover Roberts’s work as a feminist writer, novelist and memoirist. An overall analysis and detailed overview of Michèle Roberts’s novels first provide the reader with a study of Roberts’s rewriting of stories that have been inspired by historical, mythological and religious women who gain a voice in her fiction. Not only will the content of Roberts’s novels be explored but also its connection to form, as this feminist writer has always linked body to language. Second, the book analyses personal and public discoveries in Roberts’s memoir, Paper Houses: A Memoir of the ‘70s and Beyond (2007). The personal, professional and political journeys the writer-protagonist strolls in London will be part of a feminist culture and language that the memoirist preserves in her autobiography. Finally, two conversations with Michèle Roberts from 2003 and 2010 are presented in a last chapter in order to illustrate Roberts’s arguments when writing as a woman.


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Michèle Roberts, the novelist This first chapter will analyse the novel as a literary genre. The novel has been the preferred and more exploited written form chosen by women writers such as Michèle Roberts or Charlotte Brontë, for instance. The nineteenth century was a remarkable time for the beginning of the woman novelist. It is by means of initial readings that Roberts starts rewriting and reinterpreting her historical protagonists’ lives. At the Bath Literature Festival in 2005, Roberts stressed that ‘factorial information can become myth at the same time.’ Based on the argument of this quote, Roberts not only looks into real facts to create a fictional text but an autobiographical text can also take the shape of a novel as it will be demonstrated with Paper Houses. Fact and fiction are linked in Roberts’s work. Lucasta Miller has also suggested that biographical texts, inspired by Charlotte Brontë, have similar characteristics typical of a work of fiction: All life-writing (as Virginia Woolf called it) is a paradoxical process whereby the fragmentary business of lived experience is moulded into a formal literary structure and given an artificial sense of direction. Etymologically, even the word “biography” – life-writing – is an oxymoron. At some level, all bio- graphers borrow some of their narrative techniques from fictional storytelling. (Miller 64) Likewise, I will also deal with pastiche and l’écriture féminine as forms that shape Roberts’s style. The writer participates in different explorations when writing her works of fiction. Roberts highlights the...

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