Last week The Times set the internet a flurry by publishing a piece headlined “Young male novelists left on the shelf,” which suggested women in the publishing industry have made it near-impossible to succeed as a contemporary male fiction author. The article was prompted by an interview with the American writer Elizabeth Strout in which she said: “Those women work hard to get where they are and they are good at their jobs, but do I think it’s a good thing? Well, I think that it makes it too narrow. I mean, if it was all male-dominated that would be a bad thing. And if it’s all female-dominated, then that might be just as bad.”

Female writers accounted for 57 per cent of hardback fiction bestsellers and 62 per cent of paperbacks in 2020. Male writers, the author Boris Starling argues in a piece for the Mail Online, have been pushed into script writing over novel-writing due to the female domination of the publishing industry and because they are less likely to accept low advances when they “could be earning more elsewhere”.