From the Women’s Prize Archives.
We caught up with bestselling author and former Women’s Prize judge Joanna Trollope to ask her about women’s equality, her taste in books and what exactly she and her fellow judges were looking for when she chaired the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2011.
Do you think fiction written by women has changed over the last decade? If so, how?
The last decade has seen some long overdue inequalities between the genders begin (only begin!) to be rectified, and this is reflected in the range and boldness of women writers and the topics and styles that they choose. For example, wouldn’t Radclyffe Hall have given her eye teeth for Sarah Waters’ freedom!
Can you name a book written by a woman that has changed your life?
I wouldn’t say that any book has “changed my life”, as that seems to me the kind of melodramatic statement one should reserve for really major life events, like bereavement. But a book I go back and back to, in admiration, over and over, is Rose Macaulay’s The Towers of Trebizond.
When you were Chair of Judges, what were you looking for in your winning book?
Every year of this prize is different, of course, because every panel is reading just what has been published that year, and so inevitably the standards vary. But I was looking for a novel that fulfilled the prize’s criteria of excellence, originality and accessibility, but above all for an authorial voice that would compel the widest audience to read on and on….