By Anna Sikora, Gale Ambassador at NUI Galway
Anna Sikora is a tutor, part-time teacher, and final year PhD student in the Discipline of English, National University of Galway, Ireland. She is examining the works of John Wyndham, author of over 60 short stories and 12 novels, including the famous The Day of The Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). Anna is interested to see when and why science fiction authors began to show an awareness of environmental issues, and how this was demonstrated in their work. She is adopting some of the concepts of environmental criticism (ecocriticism) to ask how environmental concerns are articulated in fiction, and whether literature can, and should, influence our daily environmental choices or the ways in which we interact with the environment.
In the recent movie To Walk Invisible (2016), a biopic depicting the lives of the famous Brontë sisters, Charlotte tells her sisters to publish their work under male pseudonyms. This, the oldest Brontë supposedly reasoned, was to prevent the publishers from judging the authors, and to invite them to judge the story instead. A certain degree of moral indignation prompted some of my students to take Charlotte’s statement as a cue to sweepingly proclaim that none of the Brontë sisters would have been published had they submitted as Anne, Emily and Charlotte. If this were true, said I (a woman), there would have been no literature by women in print until Ms Wolf entered the literary scene. Generalisations and hasty conclusions kill critical thinking, so let’s take a step back and read what was actually written about the early women writers publishing under their real names and literary aliases at the time their works hit the bookshop and library shelves.