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Top Ten Fiction List in England

The blog yesterday mentioned the high percentage of women readers of all categories of fiction has generated a fair amount of interest. Today I’d like to follow up on the same theme: that authors of commercially successful novels – meaning books that make the bestsellers list – are mainly women writers. If the market for novels is overwhelmingly a market of women readers, then it makes commercial sense for large publishers to back an author who can appeal to women readers.

There was an interesting article by Mark Lawson in the Guardian.

“The first names of nine of this week's top 10 writers tell a remarkable story: Victoria, Dorothy, Elizabeth, Jodi, Elisabeth, Jill, Ruth, Zadie, Minette. Only the presence of a Guardian columnist - Jonathan Freedland, writing under the pseudonym Sam Bourne - prevents a feminine clean sweep of the charts and, even in that case, the name Sam is notable for its sexual ambiguity.

Admittedly, an all-woman bestseller list would be less remarkable than a fully female political cabinet or corporate board of directors, because women are by far the bigger buyers of fiction and, ever since Eliot, the Brontes and Jane Austen, female novelists have achieved a level of representation that was never the case for playwrights or screenwriters. Even so, this feminisation of the paperback charts is noteworthy.”

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