Project Director: Jennifer Baumgardner
Since 1983 the Women's Review of Books has provided a forum for serious, informed discussion of new writing by and about women. Women’s Review of Books provides a unique perspective on today’s literary landscape and feature essays and in-depth reviews of new books by and about women. Women's Review of Books is published by the Wellesley Centers for Women in collaboration with Old City Publishing in Philadelphia, PA.
Women’s Review of Books (WRB) began publishing in October 1983, with a goal of spreading the news about the scholarship emerging from the then new field of women’s studies and about creative writing—fiction, memoir, poetry—that examined women’s experiences. At the time, it was just about possible for WRB to cover every book that fit under these broad guidelines; and it was not always easy for those interested in such writings to track them down. Mainstream book review publications, newspapers, and even scholarly journals did not cover them; a network of women’s and gay bookstores was just emerging; and of course there was no Internet. Feminist and gay publications came and went and often did not devote much space to book reviews. WRB became essential reading for feminists.
Women’s Review of Books celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1993 with a conference keynoted by Margaret Atwood. However, starting in the mid-1990s, WRB’s readership began to decline. The many reasons for this included economic cutbacks that caused libraries and individuals to limit the number of subscriptions they took out; the Internet, which was making it easier to find out about books of interest to women; and changes in the women’s movement itself, so younger readers did not find WRB’s coverage as exciting and relevant as their mothers had. WCW had subsidized the production of WRB for many years, but after operating at a deficit for so long, Women’s Review of Books suspended monthly publication in December 2004.
In January 2006, Women’s Review of Books was re-launched as a bimonthly publication, with a new, updated, reader-friendly design but with the same kinds of distinguished writers and eclectic, thought-provoking coverage as before. Subscribers and advertisers flocked back and the new structure has been both a financial and editorial success.
- To give writing by feminist scholars and creative writers the serious critical attention it deserves.
- To promote women's critical writing.
- To act as a bridge between feminist scholars, writers, and activists by encouraging thoughtful discussion of new information, ideas, analyses, and experiences.
The Women's Review of Books receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.