Thursday, September 27, 2007

BBC Radio 4 - Guilty Pleasure: A Hundred Years Of Mills And Boon

You can listen to the programme in full here, though I'm not sure how long it will remain available. Presented by "Stand-up comedian and writer Lucy Porter", this programme was a brief, but relatively balanced account of the history of Mills & Boon that also looks at the relationship between Mills & Boon readers and the novels they buy in such impressive numbers.

Porter begins by reading the blurb of Nicola Marsh's Two-Week Mistress: "Won over by a wombat [...]" and, herself won over by the wombat, she comments: "Brilliant! That actually sounds quite funny. [...] How times have changed!"

The press release describing this programme was misleading, however. Here are some of the key paragraphs from the press release:
The company has remained essentially conservative with no sex before marriage, no inter-racial relationships and, especially, no heroines with deformities allowed. One of Mills and Boon's most prolific writers in the Sixties, Violet Winspear, caused controversy in 1970 when she claimed her heroes had to be "capable of rape".

Lucy examines why Mills and Boon still doesn't deal directly with some elements of modern society, such as same-sex and inter-racial relationships. She finds out who reads these books, and why they remain a guilty pleasure for many women.

She hears from critics who argue the novels are formulaic, badly written, sexist and for people who are unhappy.
The first paragraph relates to information related by Joseph McAleer, author of Passion's Fortune: The Story of Mills & Boon. In the programme McAleer relates almost verbatim something he mentions in his book:
In 1960 Anne Britton and Marion Collin published Romantic Fiction: The New Writers' Guide, which included several chapters on writing serial fiction. Britton was fiction editor of Woman's Own and My Home, and later wrote for Mills & Boon as 'Jan Anderson'. [...] Britton and Collin wrote [...] there were certain taboos to avoid:
  • Drunkenness. 'Certainly the heroine is never "tipsy" and rarely does the hero spend his time propping up bars.'
  • Deformity. 'Never a heroine with one leg. No one will buy that story.'
  • Divorce. 'This offends so many readers and especially Eire, which could mean the loss of several thousand copies.'
  • Illegitimate children. 'Never.'
  • Mixed race and colour bar. 'To make a mixed marriage the central situation in a story is to invite a definite rejection at the present time'. (231)
Clearly much has changed since the 1960s, and this is made clear in the programme (even if not in the press release). Mills & Boon novels may include gay secondary characters and the spokesperson for the company said that
homosexuality is okay but we would never actually do books where the two main protagonists are same sex, purely because we are the specialists in heterosexual sex. If you want gay romances there are other publishers who would do it much better than we would do it.
Regarding inter-racial relationships she commented:
I wish we had more of those, actually. The issue there for us is getting the material. We don't get enough manuscripts where people actually explore those kinds of relationships. If they do, I would say to them "don't get hung up on all the political and social issues."
It probably also depends on how you define "inter-racial" because there are a fair number of sheik romances. When we had only seen the press release and were therefore still speculating about what would be in the programme, Kate Walker mentioned Melissa James's novels. Melissa James's first novel,
Her Galahad is a based-on-fact book, gleaned from my Aboriginal History course in 1999. I was away camping with my family, and brought my reader. I read that weekend that the Australian Government had regularly given fake death certificates to members of the Stolen Generation (Aboriginal kids taken from their families) for their parents, so they wouldn't go home and look for their heritage, and blend into white society. Those same kids (the girls) quite often lost their children - told they were dead, and the government adopted them out to white families. And many of those boys ended up in prison, on real or fake charges. (James, in an interview)
James seems to have succeeded in not getting "hung up on all the political and social issues", since the reviewer at The Romance Reader, Thea Davis, comments that 'the mixed race issue [...] is subtly in the background'.

With regards to Violet Winspear's comment about rape, it has to be borne in mind that, as McAleer notes, she made her comment in 1970 and she
aroused considerable controversy by her remarks on the BBC Man Alive programme, and in a companion interview in the Radio Times. Winspear, described as possessing 'man mania' [...] got carried away in revealing her vision of the archetypal romantic hero:

I get my heroes so that they're lean and hard muscled and mocking and sardonic and tough and tigerish and single, of course. Oh and they've got to be rich and then I make it that they're only cynical and smooth on the surface. But underneath they're well, you know, sort of lost and lonely. In need of love but, when roused, capable of breathtaking passion and potency. Most of my heroes, well all of them really, are like that. They frighten but fascinate. They must be the sort of men who are capable of rape: men it's dangerous to be alone in the room with. (257)
One of the Mills & Boon editors responds that clearly in Winspear's time
attitudes about that sort of thing were a bit dodgy by our standards now. On the other hand, [...] there is a fantasy in Mills & Boon which is all about overwhelming passion . I think you have to take it sort of as a code, perhaps. It's a fantasy of sort of lying back and just being made love to by this wonderful man who wants only you and the force of his feelings is almost overwhelming. [...] It's a sort of abdication of responsibility. [...] I would say that rape is a power thing [...] we aren't really going there, all we're talking about is feelings and emotions
The programme quickly charts the history of Mills & Boon. One can find a summary of this on the Mills & Boon website:
When Gerald Mills and Charles Boon joined forces in 1908 to create Mills & Boon Ltd, the company was not founded as a romance fiction publishing house —although its first book was, prophetically, a romance. Since those early days, Harlequin Mills & Boon Ltd has developed from a general fiction publisher to become the UK's undisputed market leader in romance fiction publishing.

From the very beginning, Mills & Boon published in a form and at a price that was within the reach of a wide readership. In the 1930s the company noted the rapid rise of commercial libraries and the growing appetite for escapism during the Depression years. The favourite genre was romance and the company decided to concentrate on hardback romances, a policy which became increasingly successful. Mills & Boon books were initially sold through weekly two-penny libraries and their distinctive brown binding led them to become known as "the books in brown".

With the decline of lending libraries in the late 1950s, the company's most successful move was to realise that there would remain a strong market for romance novels, but that sales would depend on readers having easy access to reasonably priced books. As a result Mills & Boon romance became widely available from newsagents across the country. [...]

In 1957 Harlequin began buying the rights to romance novels from the English firm Mills & Boon Ltd. So successful were these Doctor Nurse romances that the Canadian Company began to concentrate on selling them and by 1964 romance fiction comprised the entire Harlequin list.

In the late 1960s Harlequin began a period of extraordinary expansion that propelled it into the international stage following the 1971 acquisition of Mills & Boon Ltd, then the largest romance publisher in the English speaking world. By the end of the decade, Harlequin's overseas acquisitions and partnerships were taking the company's brand of love stories to bookshelves around the world.
There are some critical voices on the programme, primarily those of Mary Evans, Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Kent, and novelist Celia Brayfield. Mary Evans, one of whose recent publications is Love: An Unromantic Discussion in which she "argues that we should abandon love in its romanticized and commercialized form", says that "I think they're very formulaic. I think they're formulaic in their endings, I think they're formulaic in their construction and I think they're formulaic in their language." Gill Sanderson responds by making a comparison with Shakespeare's sonnets and saying that there is a "set of rules that you stick to but within those rules there is an almost infinite variety of things you can do".

Celia Brayfield states of Mills & Boon romances that "the language is extremely tired and hackneyed. I do think they make an effort to remove clichés but you can almost see the holes where they've cut them out. I think they're very mediocre and competent in literary terms and not more than that. It's a kind of lowest common denominator of reading for people who can only just about read." It's perhaps worth noting that Brayfield has written "A how-to book for writers, about the theory and techniques of popular fiction, with illustrations from the work of over twenty best-selling novelists." Brayfield has also criticised Jane Austen:
"I think she betrays her time and I'm always gob smacked by what she ignored," says Celia Brayfield, author and lecturer at Brunel University. "She focused on such a narrow strain of human reality. Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the Napoleonic War going on at the time when she was writing, she doesn't mention it. There is no poverty in her novels, no corruption, ambition, wickedness or war. Yes her wit is enchanting and her human observations enduringly accurate, but the world she writes about is so tiny. I find it claustrophobic."
I wonder if Brayfield is maybe either a little hard to please or has very particular views about what constitutes a good novel.

There's also this unattributed gem which, I think, really doesn't deserve a response:
What Mills & Boon do, really, is play to the lowest common denominator of the female readership and quite honestly any woman with two neurons to rub together would have serious trouble reading more than one of these books unless she had the flu
and here's another:
It's bad for women to suggest that the whole of their lives will be sorted out if they simply attract the right man. That is not the reality and it stands in the way of women taking responsibility for their own lives and for the lives of their children. Mills & Boon just says "make yourself attractive darling and some lovely bloke will come along and take care of it" and that simply doesn't happen and it also encourages women to be dependent, to underachieve their potential, and to not fully realise themselves as human beings.
Mary Evans then adds that she thinks of a Mills & Boon romance as
the kind of book that is read by somebody who feels that their life is lacking [...] so what they are turning to to make up that missing part is romance. So as I say, I see them as a literature of unhappiness rather than happiness. They're a classic literature for rather miserable, rather disappointed, rather jaundiced people."
Such negative opinions are countered by a variety of M&B authors and readers who point out that they enjoy the books, see them as fun, and can tell the difference between reality and fiction.

  • McAleer, Joseph. Passion’s Fortune: The Story of Mills & Boon. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. [The introduction and a sample chapter are available from here as a pdf.]

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bloody Men

Madelynne Ellis, at the Lust Bites blog, has a curious post today about "Bloody Men." I say "curious"; I suppose what I mean is "fascinating," since it's so far from my own range of triggers and fantasies. (Not a bad thing, this: the longer I read that blog, the more fun I have in the rest of my life--as with romance fiction more generally, the more I see the world through the eyes of female authors, the more I notice and enjoy, from women's shoes to men's eyes.)

The post also puts me in mind, though, of one of my favorite poems, and since it's a poem about love (albeit unhappily), and since I haven't posted here in months, I figured I'd just drop by, give you the poem, and break the ice, so to speak.

On which note, this, by Wendy Cope:
Bloody men are like bloody buses--
You wait for about a year
And as soon as one approaches your stop
Two or three others appear.

You look at them flashing their indicators,
Offering you a ride.
You're trying to read their destinations,
You haven't much time to decide.

If you make a mistake, there is no turning back.
Jump off, and you'll stand there and gaze
While the cars and the taxis and lorries go by
And the minutes, the hours, the days.

The end of that is too glum, I think, to close this post, so instead, here's another, far happier, which I can't easily reproduce, and another, which I pluck from the website of Poetry Out Loud:
The Orange

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
More soon! --E

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Taking Sex Seriously: Harlequin Presents

RfP has found a very interesting article, published in Macleans this month, titled "Harlequin thinks unsexy thoughts" and subtitled "Impotence is just the start: the new romance novels put the 'fun' back in sexual dysfunction". The journalist, Patricia Treble, found that
in this month's Harlequins was Sandra Marton's The Greek Prince's Chosen Wife, about a woman learning to trust after being sexually abused in foster care. It's not a character or subject that most people expect to find in a happy-ending-in-200-pages serial romance. But today's Harlequin authors are increasingly devoting swaths of their books to upfront discussions of such serious sexual issues. Last month, Annie West's For the Sheikh's Pleasure focused on a woman struggling to be physically and emotionally intimate after being drugged and raped during a night out. And plots such as these are prominently displayed in the bestselling Harlequin Presents series, not tucked away in one of the publisher's more marginal lines.

Though sexual problems have been in HP books for years, they were often "alluded to, talked about euphemistically," explains Tessa Shapcott, executive editor of HP for 13 years. "Now we're just reflecting the fact that people are freer to discuss such intimate things. People are far more honest and open about suffering." For Shapcott, the breakthrough sexual dysfunction book was Lucy Monroe's Blackmailed into Marriage. Its entire plot revolved around vaginismus, a condition that causes vaginal muscles to involuntarily contract shut.
I mentioned Monroe's novel when I discussed the ways in which romance novels can provide sex education. Something I found particularly interesting was the fact that the authors of the Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon Moderns which tackle these difficult sexual subject matters have solid evidence that their readers appreciate them:
today's authors, who all closely monitor their individual book sales, haven't seen a dip in purchases when the reading gets difficult. [...] I don't think it's a conscious thing but some part of you says 'Oh, I can go there' and the same thing is reflected in the publisher's overall sales." The financials are buttressed by the fan mail. "I think that women who do read our books know damn well that they're going to get something that could be light but could have some meat to it," Marton says. "They are not just perfectly happy getting that -- they're interested in getting that."
Works like those by Monroe, Marton and West may deal with some of the more harrowing problems which can make it difficult for a woman to achieve sexual pleasure, but rather than being aberrations in the Presents/Modern line, they are simply among the most explicit in tackling a theme which, as I found when I did my research for the paper I presented in Newcastle, is often present in novels in this line, namely a woman’s right to experience sexual pleasure without fear or shame or, as Monroe puts it, "I wrote this book for the tens of thousands of women who suffer in silence believing there is something wrong with them. [...] healing is possible. I hope that if you are one of the women suffering in silence, [...] you will realize that it’s not your fault.

I'd encourage you to read both Patricia Treble's article and RfP's analysis of it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Eric and Autumn

Eric's at Romancing the Blog today, asking about romances set in autumn.

This picture of Cymon and Iphigenia, although it looks autumnal to me because of the colour-scheme, actually proves Eric's point that "When it comes to love, [...] Spring has always gotten all the best publicity". According to Giovanni Boccacio in the Decameron (Fifth Day, Novel 1), the encounter took place as follows:
'twas the month of May--a mass of greenery; and, as he traversed it, he came, as Fortune was pleased to guide him, to a meadow girt in with trees exceeding tall, and having in one of its corners a fountain most fair and cool, beside which he espied a most beautiful girl lying asleep on the green grass, clad only in a vest of such fine stuff that it scarce in any measure veiled the whiteness of her flesh, and below the waist nought but an apron most white and fine of texture; and likewise at her feet there slept two women and a man, her slaves. No sooner did Cimon catch sight of her, than, as if he had never before seen form of woman, he stopped short, and leaning on his cudgel, regarded her intently, saying never a word, and lost in admiration. And in his rude soul, which, despite a thousand lessons, had hitherto remained impervious to every delight that belongs to urbane life, he felt the awakening of an idea, that bade his gross and coarse mind acknowledge, that this girl was the fairest creature that had ever been seen by mortal eye.
Appropriately for an academic blog about romance, love has the power to change Cimon: although previously "neither his tutor's pains, nor his father's coaxing or chastisement, nor any other method had availed to imbue him with any tincture of letters or manners", having met and fallen in love with Iphigenia, "Cimon, whose heart, closed to all teaching, love's shaft, sped by the beauty of Iphigenia, had penetrated, did now graduate in wisdom with such celerity as to astonish his father and kinsmen, and all that knew him."

Getting back to autumn, I imagine the season personified, looking rather like the sleeping Iphigenia,
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers. (from John Keats's Ode to Autumn)

The painting of Cymon and Iphigenia is by Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton and comes from Wikimedia Commons. More details about it are available here. Leighton's Flaming June has a similar colour-scheme and depicts a similarly somnolent female.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Tasty Morsel

I thought it might be time for another online read, so here is A is for Average. It's a short story by Lynne Marshall and it should open up as a pdf document.

There are two aspects of this short story which caught my attention. The first is that it's told in the first person, which seems appropriate given that the heroine's special feature is her voice.

The second is that, as in Mary Stewart's Madam, Will You Talk, discussed by Eric here, there's a scene set in a restaurant during which the hero provides the heroine with food and, despite the fact that they barely touch, it's as much a sex scene as it is a food scene.

Bon appétit!

The picture is Rubens' Venus, Cupid, Baccchus and Ceres, from the Web Gallery of Art, which also gives further details about the painting. Jonathan Jones has written that
Profusion is not only a style with Rubens - it is a philosophy of life. He expresses it in two highly unusual paintings, on the theme of the "Venus frigida" (cold Venus). This obscure iconography derives from the Roman dramatist Terence: Sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus - "Without Ceres and Bacchus Venus is cold".

Ceres is the goddess of the fruits of the earth, Bacchus the god of wine. Without good food and wine, Rubens suggests, no one ever had really good sex.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Trials & Tribulations of a Travelling Scholar

After we've given you a summary of the romance and chick lit panels at the Feminism & Popular Culture conference, which was held in Newcastle in June, here are some visual impressions of my trip to the north of England. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sarah at Romancing the Blog

We've touched on the similarities between the "opium of the people" and the "prozac" of the "addicted" reader, i.e. religion and romance novels. Today at Romancing the Blog Sarah's been taking a closer look at the parallels. As she observes,
Romance is often derided for being addictive to its readers and for being repetitious. Critics argue, “How can you tell what’s basically the same story again and again without repeating yourself?” and the implied answer is that romances obviously ARE all the same and it’s precisely the repetition that’s addictive, and that the addiction is a bad thing.

Our analysis of this hymn can show us that romances provide us the comfort and the excitement of repetition with a difference. We’ve got the security of the “formula” or conventions of romance (the meeting, the conflict, the happy ending), with the interest and uniqueness of a new story each time we read a new romance.

The illustration is from Wikimedia Commons and is taken from Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé's Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany. It is a depiction of the opium poppy, or Papaver somniferum.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sternberg and the Theory of Love as a Story

I've been pondering some of the contrasting opinions about relationships which emerged from a recent debate over at the Smart Bitches.1 Najida wrote that
What concerns me is that the ‘ideal’ world that some women want would have boys for men or at least those with teeny weenies, no chest hair, no muscles and itty itty schlongs that would never mess up or bother a delicate female HooHoo.2 And men who aren’t men, just beaten down creatures allowed to live in the presence of the Princesses.

And sex would be this vapid, super quiet thing with the woman totally in control at all times, because if the man dares get passionate, she’s being victimized.
Later on in the same thread, Miranda posted a link to a webpage about the writings of Andrea Dworkin and the ways in which her work has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. Dworkin commented that
[I]f one's sexual experience has always and without exception been based on dominance--not only overt acts but also metaphysical and ontological assumptions [...] [i]f one has eroticized a differential in power that allows for force as a natural and inevitable part of intercourse [...then, for such a person] Equality in the realm of sex is an antisexual idea if sex requires domination in order to register as sensation.
It seems to me that there are widely varying ideas about what constitutes the ideal relationship, yet perhaps because, as Robert J. Sternberg found when he began to analyse people's ideas about love, each person "believed they were carrying around a set of rock-solid facts about what love is," there can be a comprehension gap between people who have different ideals. What one person considers ideal might seem boringly prosaic and lacking in passion to another, and the fantasies that turn the second person on might seem abhorrent or alien to the first person. In his theory of love as a story Sternberg describes stories as being crucial to shaping people's ideas about love and romantic relationships:
All of us are exposed to many different stories about love. They reach us through our own experience, as well as through literature, the media, and so forth. [...] Under the spell of the stories we absorb, we gradually form our own personal stories about love—models of how love is “supposed” to work. How we develop our own stories and what they turn out to be depends on our personality and our environment, but once we have a story—or, like many of us, a set of stories—we seek to live it out in reality. [...] It seemed reasonable to suppose that people are more likely to succeed in a relationship with a partner whose story closely matches their own. [...] It didn’t take long to discover that certain types of stories tend to dominate Americans’ conceptions of love [...]. There’s love as a cookbook, for example, where lovers build a relationship by following a “recipe,” or love as a fantasy, complete with knight in shining armor, or love as a game or sport—26 stories in all. (Tufts Magazine)
The list of the 26 stories can be found here, along with a short description of each.

When Sternberg says that "once we have a story—or, like many of us, a set of stories—we seek to live it out in reality" he doesn't mean that every individual will truly seek to live out the story in every detail, but rather that the expectations and power dynamics which underlie their love story/stories may inform that person's real-life choices and behaviours.

Different stories have very different power dynamics, for example there are two variations of story 9, "Government. (a) Autocratic. One partner dominates or even controls the other. (b) Democratic. Two partners share power equally."

So could it be that our internalised story/stories about love affect which romances we prefer? Candy says, for example, that
I enjoy the antagonism and sparring between alpha types as much as anybody else. One of my all-time favorites is Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels, for example; Dain and Jessica are both Type A personalities, and it is a true joy to watch them duke it out. The two of them are well-suited to each other; they’re equally strong, and best of all, they’re equally fun to watch.
Is this sort of response more likely to come from someone who finds story 25 a close match: "War. Love is a never-ending series of battles. The partners may both be willing combatants, or one may be unwilling"?

Jane from Dear Author wrote that in romance
Heroines are often portrayed in isolation, no friends, often estranged from family or an orphan, teetering on the brink of financial ruin. They are depicted as sad sack individuals whose sexual identity was created for them out of one miserable experience with a man more interested in the growth of his own toenails than the satisfaction of his partner in bed. The whole driving motivation for the female is to achieve a better sense of completion through the love of a good man.
If Jane's right that this is a common type of heroine, is it because a lot of romances are drawing on the following stories: 1 "Addiction. Partners show clinging behavior and anxiety about losing one another. In some relationships, one partner is a codependent, living off the other’s addiction"; 6 "Fantasy. You expect to be saved by a knight in shining armor or marry a princess and live happily ever after. The knight or prince tends to serve the princess"; 17: "Recovery. After the trauma of the past, you can get through practically anything. One person helps the other recover from a past event"?

Do romances about virgins being taught about their sexuality by older, more experienced men appeal more to people whose internal love story is 26: "Student-teacher. Love is a relationship between experienced and inexperienced parties. One partner teaches the other, although the roles may sometimes reverse"?

Will people with a strong predisposition to story 19 sometimes find love stories without a happy ending even more powerful: "Sacrifice. To love is to sacrifice one’s own interests for those of one’s partner. (Humphrey Bogart toward Ingrid Bergman, Ingrid Bergman toward Paul Henreid, in Casablanca.)"?

How many of us, when we read romance novels, have a strong preference for works which match our own personal stories about love? Could it be that some readers strongly reject romances which are based on stories which are very different from their own "story about love"?

1 The discussion began when Candy posted On Alpha Heroes, Sarah followed it up with a post about Alphas in Marriage, and Candy then picked up on some of the issues which had arisen, in a post titled Feminism and Masculinity. The result was a lot of very heated argument. As the issues have been discussed there in considerable detail, I don't want to write about them here.

2 It's interesting that, as with William Sheldon's theory concerning somatotypes, different body types are being correlated with particular personalities. Sheldon's classification system was as follows:
Endomorphic -- tendency to put on fat, soft roundness of body, short tapering limbs, small bones, velvety skin; viscerotonic temperament, relaxed, comfortable person, loves luxury, an extrovert.

Mesomorphic -- predominance of muscles, bone, and motor organs, large trunk, heavy chest, large wrist and hands, lean rectangular outline; somotonic or Dionysian temperament, active, assertive, aggressive, unrestrained.

Ectomorphic -- predominance of skin, lean, fragile, delicate body, small bones, droppy shoulders, small face, sharp nose, fine hair; cerebrotonic temperament, sensitive, distractible, insomnia, skin troubles, allergies. (O'Connor)
However, although "the body composition analysis is still considered a valuable way to look at general body types, [...] the psychological component of the early work is not" (from this website). Discredited or not, the psychological associations of particular body types would still seem to exert considerable force in popular culture. Romance heroes, particularly the alpha romance heroes, are generally mesomorphic. Here's Germaine Greer's description of the type:
The strength of the belief that a man should be stronger and older than his woman can hardly be exaggerated. I cannot claim to be fully emancipated from the dream that some enormous man, say six foot six, heavily shouldered and so forth to match, will crush me to his tweeds, look down into my eyes and leave the taste of heaven or the scorch of his passion on my waiting lips. (180)
  • Greer, Germaine. The Female Eunuch. London: Paladin, 1971.

The first picture is of a study for Sir Joseph Noel Paton's The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (c. 1849). The study is from Wikimedia Commons. See this page for more details about the quarrel between these two lovers, and to see the final version of the painting.

The second painting is Edmund Blair Leighton's 1882 Abelard and his pupil Heloise, from Wikipedia. More details concerning their relationship can be found here.