Where Are All the Female Magicians?

Susanna Clarke does a Q&A about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

There was an interesting question about where all of the female magicians were in Clarke’s book. And I have to admit, that question never crossed my mind. I felt Clarke was writing a certain sort of book, set in England during an alternate 1830s-ish sort of time and narrated in a written-in-the-1850s sort of way (I always read the narrator as male, though Clarke says that in her head the narrator was usually female). So the role of women in the book, as characters, would be pretty traditional. A male narrater wouldn’t be much interested in what they did, or ask the question about where all the female magicians were. It wouldn’t come up. When you have an opening about the boys’ club of pseudo-magicians meeting together with the “boys only” sign on the treehouse door, you don’t expect to see any women trying to knock it down when they’re stuck wearing corsets and haven’t had anything like a Seneca Falls convention and the entire book is about proper upper-crust sorts of people who wouldn’t dare think to upset that particular status quo. Though magic may be another matter.

Sure, you’ll have some female rebels in every society, but that’s not what the book was about, and I think that concentrating on female rebels would have made it another book entirely, and that wasn’t the book Clarke was set on writing.

So… no female magicians? Didn’t bother me. She’s apparently got some in a short story of hers – they just never fit in the book.

Because of the story she wanted to tell, and the way she wanted to tell it, I can forgive Clark for not going into the subject of female magicians.

However, forgiving the lack of relevant female Jedi in every single goddamn Star Wars movie? Especially the first three where there are tons of rebels, the perfect place for a rise in fighting women?

Not so much.

(via Meghan)

The Latest

Future Artifacts

Brutal. Devastating. Dangerous. Join an investigation into a cruel and heartless leader … crawl through filth and mud to escape biological warfare … team up with time-traveling soldiers faced with potentially life-altering instructions. Kameron Hurley, award-winning author and expert in the future of war and resistance movements, has created eighteen exhilarating tales giving glimpses into […]

Support Kameron

If you’ve read and enjoyed my work for free – whether that’s the musings here on the blog, guest posts elsewhere, or through various free fiction sites, it’s now easier than ever to donate to support this work, either with a one-time contribution via PayPal, or via a monthly Patreon contribution:

Scroll to Top