Press Release

Learn more about our project and team

In celebration of International Women’s Day (8 March 2022), we announce the launch of an exciting new project investigating the stories women tell of their experience of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the AHRC, the project team includes academics from Lincoln, Leicester and Robert Gordon Universities, led by Principal Investigator Professor Lucie Armitt.

A century ago, Virginia Woolf delivered a series of lectures to female students at Girton College, Cambridge, which a decade later were published in book form as A Room of One’s Own. In that book, Woolf argues that, in order to write, ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own’. When Woolf forged that initial, visionary connection between women, writing and space, she envisaged it as a positive opportunity to allow women’s creativity to flourish in a space they have commonly considered to be their own: the home.

Between March and May 2020, however, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government issued a directive insisting that all UK citizens should stay at home. Commonly known as ‘lockdown’, this project explores the differing effects the directive had upon women and men, measured through the stories women told about those first 12 weeks. Statistically, domestic violence rates doubled during the first three weeks of lockdown (Women’s Aid, ‘Counting Dead Women’). Given that women in the UK perform 60% more unpaid labour than men (ONS 2016), women were disproportionately affected by the competing demands of work and home schooling. Even academic periodicals quickly recorded that submissions from female authors dropped noticeably in proportion to their male colleagues (Flaherty, 21 April 2020).

The project therefore investigates the impact of lockdown on women’s writing in that early period of lockdown. How did lockdown impact on women’s experience of writing, what they wrote about and when and where they wrote?

Professor Armitt explains, “The project will explore published fiction and poetry, blogs and social media posts, newspaper articles, features and oral history archives. It will also include creative writing produced in our project partner Liv Torc’s bespoke creative writing workshops for the project.”

The final major output, due for launch in June 2023, will be a virtual exhibition. ‘The Lockdown House’, bringing together a collection of our findings, images, diary entries, social media posts and a Discussion Board giving space and voice to women writing lockdown.

To find out more about the project, including the creative writing workshops, follow the project at https://www.facebook.com/Womenwritinglockdown/
https://twitter.com/WomenLockdown
https://www.instagram.com/womenwritinglockdown/

PROJECT TEAM:

Principal Investigator: Professor Lucie Armitt (University of Lincoln); Co-Investigators: Professor Krista Cowman (University of Leicester) and Professor Sarah Pedersen (Robert Gordon University); Project Partner: Artist Practitioner Liv Torc (https://www.livtorc.co.uk/); Post-Doc Research Associate: Dr Ed Downey (University of Lincoln).

For further information, contact: womenwritinglockdown@lincoln.ac.uk