Review: The Women Writers Handbook Ed. Ann Sandham

 A writers handbook that you will reference time and time again.


A revised edition of the publisher’s inaugural publication in 1990 which won the Pandora Award from Women-in-Publishing. Inspirational in its original format, this new edition offers insight and motivation for budding writers from dozens of distinguished authors, celebrating the breadth of women’s writing in all its forms. Also includes the original writing workshops from the first edition plus quirky B/W illustrations as well as a foreword by Cheryl Robson, publisher and Managing Editor, who was a recent finalist in the ITV National Diversity Awards – Lifetime Achievement category. Aurora Metro Books was a finalist in the 2019 IPG Diversity in Publishing Awards and has a 30 year history of ground-breaking publishing, featuring both diverse and international authors.

The complete list of contributors: 

A.S. Byatt, Saskia Calliste, April De Angelis, Kit de Waal, Carol Ann Duffy, Sian Evans, Philippa Gregory, Mary Hamer, Jackie Kay, Shuchi Kothari, Bryony Lavery, Annee Lawrence, Roseanne Liang, Suchen Christine Lim, Jackie McCarrick, Laura Miles, Raman Mundair, Magda Oldziejewska, Kaite O’Reilly, Jacqueline Pepall, Gabi Reigh, Djamila Ribeiro, Fiona Rintoul, Jasvinder Sanghera, Anne Sebba, Kalista Sy, Debbie Taylor, Madeleine Thien, Claire Tomalin, Ida Vitale, Sarah Waters, and Emma Woolf.

A wide-ranging collection of over 30 essays, poems and interviews from top, international women writers, poets, screen writers and journalists. 

The Women Writers Handbook is a fascinating look into our history. I started with one of my favorite writers: Sarah Waters. Her interview takes us into her writing process and gives tips for those writing and for future writers. Waters also comments on how writing has changed during her lifetime and how technology has affected it. I found myself nodding my head several times as many of her observations resonated within me.

I meant to move on to Philippa Gregory next when Sian Evans words caught my eye and I started “Let The World Burn Through You”. Evans writes a thought provoking and questioning look into the past and family dynamics. Evans describes her writing history and along with it the history of women in theater writing and society’s reaction to it. 

I knew that I was not going to move on until I read Djamila Ribeiro’s “Considerations of Amefricanity”. Ribeiro repeats a truth I have learned over and over again in regards to how Black women are viewed versus men and versus white women:

“…we have never been treated as fragile. We are a part of a group of women who have worked for centuries as slaves on plantations or on the streets, as saleswomen, greengrocers, prostitutes….”

Djamila Ribeiro

Black women are not looked at as needing to be taken care of or as part of the myth that women cannot take care of themselves. Black women are consistently overlooked even today. Ribeiro is writing about Brazil, but she may as well be writing about the United States too. The statistics are not all together that different as I have written papers on this within the last five years. 

There is more than history in The Women Writers Handbook. In the back of the book is a writing workshop which covers developing characters to finding your voice. Between the workshop and the interviews with the authors throughout the book there are plenty of ideas to help a writer get started, keep going, or push through that block. This is a handbook you will keep by your bedside, writing table, or thesaurus. 

I received an ARC of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

20% of profits to go to the Virginia Woolf statue campaign.1

1The Virginia Woolf statue campaign: The proposed statue will be located in Richmond on Thames where Virginia and Leonard Woolf lived from 1914-1924 and set up the Hogarth Press. A public consultation by the local council was 83% in favour of the statue and planning permission has been granted to site the first life-size statue in bronze of the famous author on Richmond riverside where the author walked her dog daily. Over 20% of the £50,000 target has been raised so far. 

See more at:

To donate to the project go here:

Promotion materials provided by Love Books Tours

Further Details:
Publisher: Aurora Metro Books, 9781912430338,  8 September 2020
Editor: Ann Sandham


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