In a world beset with so many problems, it’s a joy to write romance stories. To live with characters who are going to find happiness even though they must first overcome obstacles. It’s also a joy to be part of the community of people who write and read romances.
We’ll never know if our prehistoric ancestors gathered around the fire to hear tales of romance, but the timeless popularity of these stories make me lean toward that belief. According to literary scholars, romance stories date from the 6th century Arthurian legends. Romance as we know it, written primarily by women, for women, and about women, made its debut in 1790 when Minerva Press, an English publishing company began publishing them.
Minerva Press published hundreds of authors who wrote thousands of titles that sold in vast quantities. Women from all walks of life read Minerva Press romances. In fact, the demand was so great that independent bookstores selling only used copies of these books thrived. And no matter how many times the readers were
told the books were not good for them, they kept buying and reading them.
You would probably be surprised that in the 19th century some of the women romance authors, such as Ann Radcliffe, outsold such giants as Charles Dickens.
And yet, these women aren’t revered as literary giants of the past. Why? Because we live in a patriarchal society and if a woman writes a book for women and about women, it is dismissed by critics (usually male) and forgotten. Thus is born the myth that romance fiction is poorly written and not worth anyone’s time.
Some analysts believe romance novels get bad press because they challenge deeply held cultural and social beliefs and make women equal partners in life. And of course, the main features of a romance novel–the love story and the happy ending–are disdained by the literary world.
And yet, Harlequin, a modern publisher of romance, is considered one of the most profitable publishing companies in the world. So profitable that HarperCollins bought it in 2014.
The perennial popularity of romance stories make me believe readers have always craved optimistic love stories. I know I do–which makes it a joy to be a writer of romance.
Ginger is giving away a print edition of Lady Runaway!