|Born||1944 (age 76–77)|
|Occupation||Journalist and writer|
|Known for||Co-founder, Spare Rib magazine|
Born in Sydney, Australia, and raised on the North Shore of Neutral Bay, Rowe's father was an engineer. After a typing course at a Sydney technical college, she worked for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), then based in the grounds of Sydney University.
Rowe was a secretary for Oz magazine from 1964 when it was based in Sydney, its original location. Because Rowe was under 21, editors Richard Neville and Richard Walsh had to persuade Rowe's father to allow her join the staff.
"I saw the freedom, the opportunity to make satire, the (editors') lack of reverence for authority," she told Helen Trinca of The Australian in 2013. "I was still rather mentally restricted in terms of authority, but I could see how they were so funny and mentally stimulating. I learnt a lot from OZ -- how to start a magazine and do it yourself. Where do you go for new ideas and thinking?" Her period at the Sydney OZ lasted until 1966. Rowe then worked for the Australian edition of Vogue, but found fashion journalism a restrictive area in which to work.
Counterculture in London
Rowe settled in London in 1969, but at first disliked the city because of the pervading attitude to expatriate Australians. During her six-months in Greece which soon followed, the regime of the Colonels politicised her, and she returned to London. Now employed on the London edition of OZ, one of the magazine's London editors, Felix Dennis later described Rowe as the publication's "anchor" in this period. When the three editors (Neville, Dennis and Jim Anderson) were tried at the Old Bailey for obscenity in Schoolkids Oz, Rowe was part of the defence team and responsible for typing documents for the defence each evening. "I hated having to be a secretary. But I really did have a sort of idea that maybe women were there to support men", she told Andy Beckett in 2005. "In the counter-culture we still did all that stuff the men didn't".
However, when the three male editors were away, Rowe was not left in charge. When Neville co-founded the short-lived Ink in 1971, Rowe joined him, but resigned over the male domination of the venture after a few months. Three female typists, she had hired, were sacked by the men when the publication acquired new office equipment. She was aware of what some of the women had passed on to work for Ink; it had no trade union representation. It appeared to her, and underground press colleague Louise Ferrier (who was romantically connected to Neville at the time), that sexual freedom for men still meant women were objectified and excluded from the editorial process. With Michelene Wandor also involved, they organised a series of meetings for other women involved in the underground press. Fifty people turned up at the first meeting in December 1971 at Rowe and Ferrier's basement flat in Notting Hill. At the third meeting, Rowe has said she suggested women should establish their own magazine. An American in London, Bonnie Boston, had suggested the idea to her, but according to Stephen Alomes, the only other supportive voice came from Rosie Boycott.
Founding Spare Rib
Boycott and Rowe founded Spare Rib, the feminist monthly magazine, the first edition appearing in June 1972. Intended as "the alternative news magazine for women", Rowe has written that while it was "seen as the public face of the women's movement", the magazine "was not synonymous with the movement". The 20,000 print run of the first two issues sold out, helped by the publicity received from the refusal of W. H. Smith to stock it. Boycott and Rowe, however, had significant differences and the formation of a collective to run the magazine, at Rowe's suggestion, led to Boycott being marginalised, and she resigned not much more than a year later after the launch.
A Spare Rib Books imprint (soon to be renamed Virago Press) was founded in 1973 by Carmen Callil whose own company had assisted on publicity for the magazine's launch. Rowe and Boycott became directors of the new company, but both resigned the following year.
Rowe, after herself leaving Spare Rib, became a freelance editor commissioning books for feminist publishers and writing her own works.
Rowe collaborated on The Characters of Fitzrovia with Felix Dennis and Mike Pentelow which was published in November 2001.
- Rowe, Marsha, ed. (1982). Spare Rib Reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN 978-0140052503.
- Rowe, Marsha, ed. (1989). Sex and the City: A Serpent's Tail Compilation. Serpent's Tail. ISBN 978-1852421656.
- Rowe, Marsha, ed. (1991). So Very English: A Serpent's Tail Compilation. Serpent's Tail. ISBN 978-1852421793.
- Rowe, Marsha, ed. (1992). Sacred Space. Serpent's Tail. ISBN 978-1852422608.
- Rowe, Marsha, ed. (1993). Infidelity. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0701144630.
- Alomes, Stephen (1999). When London Calls: The Expatriation of Australian Creative Artists to Britain. Cambridge, UK & Oakleigh, Australia: Cambridge University Press. p. 174.
- Rowe, Marsha; Robertson, Geoffrey (4 September 2016). "Richard Neville obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- Trinca, Helen (26 March 2013). "OZ era's feminist offspring". The Australian. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- Rowe, Marsha (16 April 2016). "Spare Rib and the underground press". British Library. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- Beckett, Andy (2009). When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies. London: Faber & Faber. p. 223. ISBN 9780571252268.
- Stephen Alomes (p. 183) writes it was two of the three female typesetters who were removed.
- Todd, Selina (1999). "Models and Menstruation: Spare Rib Magazine, Feminism, Femininity and Pleasure". Studies in Social and Political Thought (1): 18–34, 22.
- Beckett, p. 224
- Alomes, p.184.
- Rowe, Marsha (14 June 2013). "Spare Rib was born of grassroots feminism. It's not a brand". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- Smith, Angela; Quaid, Sheila (2017). "Introduction". In Smith, Angela (ed.). Re-reading Spare Rib. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 14, 16. ISBN 9783319493107.
- Virago is 40: A Celebration. Virago. 2013. p. 107. ISBN 9781405521536.
- Mikhail, Kate; Dennis, Felix; Rowe, Marsha (25 November 2001). "Life support". The Observer. Retrieved 18 December 2017.