My demand as a woman is that my difference
be taken into account, and that I am not
forced to adapt to the male model

Simone Veil

A woman’s place…

In 1954, Colette was the first woman to be honou-red with a state funeral, but it was not until 1981 that a woman, Marguerite Yourcenar, entered the Académie française (founded in 1635), at last removing the gender filter from official recognition of authorial quality.

Beyond this disappointing recognition, this historic and long-overdue date unfortunately illustrates all too well the treatment of difference identified and addressed by Simone Veil, something experienced by Irish female writers such as Edna O’Brien, who suffered the violence of autodafé, or Maire Mhac an tSaoi, who had to give up her public-service job after getting married, in line with the law of the time.

With a few notable exceptions, since time immemorial, women in the literary field have been confined to the quasi-exclusive role of “object” assigned to them, before assuming that of “subject”. Certain names will of course remain forever enshrined in the literary pantheon: in France, we may think of Madame de la Fayette, George Sand, Simone de Beauvoir or Marguerite Duras, in Ireland, Maria Edgeworth, Elisabeth Bowen, Eavan Boland, Lady Gregory or Anne Enright. But the fact remains that this same pantheon includes very few women, reflecting a societal reality which has been painfully slow to evolve: men retain the lion’s share.

Through fighting for their rights and their sheer talent, women are finding their rightful place,particularly in the field of literature, as evidenced by the growing proportion of literary output by female authors within the last three decades, both in Ireland and in France. And it is women, and women writers in particular, whom we wish to honour as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our festival.

Jointly organised by the Alliance Française Dublin and the French Embassy, the Festival also owes its continued success to the support of its loyal partners. We therefore wish to acknowledge the generosity of all our sponsors who have helped us to hold this 20th edition.

And, of course, we offer our warmest thanks to all the writers who have accepted our invitation and who, together with you, will make this 20th anniversary an opportunity for rich and constructive discussions, underlining the continued relevance of Simone Veil’s words.

Thank you, literary friends, and we look forward to seeing you on the 5th of April!


Frédérique Tarride
Cultural Counsellor
French Embassy in Ireland

Thierry Lagnau
Alliance Française Dublin










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