Gender en boekbedrijf | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-5829
  • E-ISSN: 2352-118X



According to the prevailing nineteenth-century opinion, the literary quality of the work of female authors was lower than that of their male colleagues. Dutch publishers, however, were not reluctant to publish novels by female authors. Market conditions were decisive. After 1835, the supply of novels generally published exceeded demand. Buyers valued morality above literary quality and, as the work of female authors presumably met high moral standards, publishing the work of women was a safe bid in a competitive market. But demand for female Dutch authors exceeded supply. Dutch (and Flemish) female authors were scarce and only at the end of the nineteenth century, when the ideas of feminism began to take effect, the number of Dutch female authors increased. It is noteworthy that some renowned publishers, such as P.N. van Kampen & Zoon and W.H. Kirberger, had an outspoken preference for women writers. These were so called ‘gentleman-publishers’, who had both material and idealistic grounds to publish the work of female authors. Female authors felt at home with this type of publisher as their values ​​and manners corresponded with the feminine self-image. Around 1880, three major developments influenced the publishing of Dutch female authors: unmarried middle-class women gained the right to paid employment, the ideal type of ‘business publisher’ rose and the audience became segmented into highbrow, middlebrow and lowbrow. The developments are explored in this article on the basis of data from a database created by the author.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): bookhistory; gender; genre; nineteenth century; novels; publishers; women writers
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