In her book “A Literature of Their Own” Elaine Showalter writes on English women writers. She says that we can see patterns and phases in the evolution of a female tradition. Showalter has divided the period of evolution into three stages. They are:
1. the Feminine,
2. the Feminist, and,
3. the Female stages.
1) The first phase, the feminine phase dates from about 1840-1880. During that period women wrote in an effort to equal the intellectual achievements of the male culture. The distinguishing sign of this period is the male pseudonym. This trend was introduced in England in the 1840’s. It became a national characteristic of English women writers. During this phase the feminist content of feminine art is typically oblique, because of the inferiority complex experienced by female writers.
2) The feminist phase lasted about 38 years; from 1882 to 1920. The New Women movement gained strength—women won the right to vote. Women writers began to use literature to dramatize the ordeals of wrong womanhood.
3) The latest phase or the third phase is called the female phase ongoing since 1920. Here we find women rejecting both imitation and protest. Showalter considers that both are signs of dependency. Women show more independent attitudes. They realize the place of female experience in the process of art and literature. She considers that there is what she calls autonomous art that can come from women because their experiences are typical and individualistic. Women began to concentrate on the forms and techniques of art and literature. The representatives of the female phase such as Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf even began to think of male and female sentences. They wrote about masculine journalism and feminine fiction. They redefined and sexualized external and internal experience.