Recently Eventbrite contacted me regarding an amazing project they are working on, encouraging bloggers to imagine their dream bookish panel. This could include authors and characters (dead or alive). Sounds great, right!? The part of my brain reserved for bookish thoughts obviously went into overdrive. Who do I choose? HOW do I choose? Authors? Characters? Do I stick to one genre?
Eventually I decided on an all female panel consisting of the authors AND characters of some of my favourite books. The discussions would be based around the evolution of gender representation and feminism in literature. This panel would take place in the UK at Chawton House Library, mainly because Jane Austen lived there and because it is just so beautiful.
Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre – Jane Eyre (1847)
There is no way I could exclude Charlotte Bronte from this list. I have recently completed my dissertation on Female Madness in Victorian Literature and Bronte herself and the novel Jane Eyre were two of the main focuses of the work. I found out so much about Bronte that I never knew. She really was a remarkable woman, as was her creation, Jane Eyre.
Bronte, in her own life, and in the novel defied gender expectations. She refused to marry someone who was not her equal and she gave Jane a fierceness that made her truly independent. To talk to them both about gender and feminism would be just extraordinary.
Elizabeth Gaskell and Margaret Hale – North and South (1855)
In any list I write about amazing books, North and South always makes an appearance and this one is no different. I would give anything to discuss Elizabeth Gaskell’s views on gender and her inspirations behind Margaret Hale’s character.
Margaret is a uniquely independent, strong woman (completely the opposite of the typical meek and subservient Victorian woman). I would ask her about how she viewed her own self in relation to the gender ideology of her time and what she thought about the differences in Victorian and modern femininity. This genuinely makes me really upset that these conversations could never be reality, but just imagine how amazing it would be.
J.K. Rowling and Hermione Granger – Harry Potter Series (1997 – 2007)
I genuinely don’t even know what I would ask Rowling, I would be too busy crying and telling her what an impact her books have had on my life. After composing myself enough to pull together a sentence I would probably ask whether she thought the series portrayed negative or positive views of gender and whether it plays to female stereotypes.
Hermione was my idol growing up, I grew up with two brothers and I was a total bookworm, so I can relate to her a lot. She is such a strong female character throughout all of the books so she would be perfect for this panel.
Emma Cline and Evie Boyd – The Girls (2016)
I read The Girls in one sitting and it quickly became one of my all time favourite books. It really had an effect on me and I still can’t stop talking about it. I was genuinely moved by this novel. The ways in which Cline captures the fear of rejection and want of belonging in female adolescence resonated with me and, I imagine, with many women. The need to be noticed by boys older than you and to fit in with girls you think are better than you.
Evie Boyd’s character encapsulates all this perfectly. To listen to both Cline and Boyd talk about their experiences and influences, I think, would be magical.
There it is.. my dream panel! Thanks to Eventbrite for encouraging me to write this, it has been really fun (and also a little bit heartbreaking) to imagine the conversations I could have.
Who would be on your dream panel?
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