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The Modern Breakthrough in the late nineteenth century was in the most literal sense a ‘break’ with customary practice. Women were busy throughout the Nordic region, organising in national societies so as to put women’s issues on the agenda of the legislature and in the public forum. The question was no longer if women wrote – because they did write! A female breakthrough was a reality – both in terms of the number of women launching careers as writers of fiction and the number of women participating in the public discussion.

In modernity’s female pen there was enough ink both for more wide-ranging milieu depictions and for a reworked female account of historical development. Three first novels – one by Norwegian Amalie Skram, one by Swedish Victoria Benedictsson, and the third by Danish Adda Ravnkilde – although sharing a modern disposition, showed in their differences the compass and contradictions of this female ‘breakthrough’.