‘Women write out of their own lives rather than out of the lives of others’ is a maxim that holds true for the majority of literary works by women through the ages. The numbers of women who write for publication have increased, as education for women has become almost universal in the Western World; and, as a result, there has been a growing (although sometimes still grudging) acceptance of women as equal participants in societies and in cultures. Christian women have become more individually-minded as well as more corporately-minded as educated persons and as members of families, of work forces, and of Churches that have changed to accommodate them. The book records the social, economic, political, religious and cultural environments in which Christian women have lived and have written over the centuries in Western civilisations. It traces the positions and circumstances of all women from earliest times (starting with those in Jewish culture and in ancient and classical Greek and Roman culture) to the present day, so that Christian women and Christian women writers can be placed in context. In addition, the writings of women have been set against the background of the writings of men (both Christian and non-Christian) in each historical and cultural period, because, up until the present time, male literary texts have far outweighed those of women in both quantity and – according to successive critics over the years – quality. It is therefore timely that women’s literature – and particularly Christian women’s literature – be examined in the light of history, sociology, philosophy, theology and literary theory.
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