This anthology gathers 368 poems by 80 British women poets of the long eighteenth century. Few of these poems have been reprinted since originally published, and all are crucial to understanding fully the literary history of women writers. Paula R. Backscheider and Catherine E. Ingrassia demonstrate the enormous diversity of poetry produced during this time by organizing the poems in three broad and deliberately overlapping categories: by genre, establishing that women wrote in all of the forms that men did with equal mastery and creativity; by theme, offering a revisionary look at the range of topics these writers addressed, including war, ecology, friendship, religion, and the stages of life; and by the poems’ more specific focus on the women’s experiences as writers. Backscheider and Ingrassia have selected poems that represent the best work of skilled poets, creating a wonderful mix of canonical and little-known pieces. They include the complete texts of longer poems that are abridged or omitted in other collections. Their substantial part introductions, textual notes, bibliographical information, and biographical sketches situate the poets and their writings within the cultural and political milieu in which they appeared. To generate further scholarship on this subject, this essential anthology puts primary texts in front of students, scholars, and general readers. It fills the persistent need to document women’s poetic expression during the long eighteenth century and to rewrite the literary history of the period, a history from which women have largely been excluded.
Poetic Sisters explores the personal and literary connections among five eighteenth-century women poets. Anchored in the work of Anne Finch, author of “A Nocturnal Reverie,” this book explores a female literary network, and emphasizes the range and extent of these writers' poetic achievement and its resonance for the twenty-first-century reader.
This major study offers a broad view of the writing and careers of eighteenth-century women poets, casting new light on the ways in which poetry was read and enjoyed, on changing poetic tastes in British culture, and on the development of many major poetic genres and traditions. Rather than presenting a chronological survey, Paula R. Backscheider explores the forms in which women wrote and the uses to which they put those forms. Considering more than forty women in relation to canonical male writers of the same era, she concludes that women wrote in all of the genres that men did but often adapted, revised, and even created new poetic kinds from traditional forms. Backscheider demonstrates that knowledge of these women's poetry is necessary for an accurate and nuanced literary history. Within chapters on important canonical and popular verse forms, she gives particular attention to such topics as women's use of religious poetry to express candid ideas about patriarchy and rape; the continuing evolution and important role of the supposedly antiquarian genre of the friendship poetry; same-sex desire in elegy by women as well as by men; and the status of Charlotte Smith as a key figure of the long eighteenth century, not only as a Romantic-era poet.
Living by the Pen traces the pattern of the development of women's fiction from 1696 to 1796 and offers an interpretation of its distinctive features. It focuses upon the writers rather than their works, and identifies professional novelists. Through examination of the extra-literary context, and particularly the publishing market, the book asks why and how women earned a living by the pen. Cheryl Turner has researched and lectured widely in the field of eighteenth-century women's writing.
Mary Leapor (1722-1746), a Northamptonshire kitchen maid, produced a substantial body of exceptional poetry which was only published after her early death. This is a timely recognition of a gifted poet, whose work has remained almost forgotten for 200 years.
Eighteenth Century Women Writers and the Gentleman s Liberation Movement
In the late eighteenth-century English novel, the question of feminism has usually been explored with respect to how women writers treat their heroines and how they engage with contemporary political debates, particularly those relating to the French Revolution. Megan Woodworth argues that women writers' ideas about their own liberty are also present in their treatment of male characters. In positing a 'Gentleman's Liberation Movement,' she suggests that Frances Burney, Charlotte Smith, Jane West, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen all used their creative powers to liberate men from the very institutions and ideas about power, society, and gender that promote the subjection of women. Their writing juxtaposes the role of women in the private spheres with men's engagement in political structures and successive wars for independence (the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars). The failures associated with fighting these wars and the ideological debates surrounding them made plain, at least to these women writers, that in denying the universality of these natural freedoms, their liberating effects would be severely compromised. Thus, to win the same rights for which men fought, women writers sought to remake men as individuals freed from the tyranny of their patriarchal inheritance.
The Matrimonial Trap examines the ways in which six women writers of the long eighteenth century used public and private writing to redefine marriage as an egalitarian relationship. Their writing reveals their participation in and reactions to a larger sense of crisis about marriage in eighteenth-century society.
Eighteenth Century Women s Writing and the Methodist Media Revolution
Eighteenth-Century Women's Writing and the Methodist Media Revolution argues that Methodism in the eighteenth century was a media event that uniquely combined and utilized different types of media to reach a vast and diverse audience. Specifically, it traces particular cases of how evangelical and Methodist discourse practices interacted with major cultural and literary events during the long eighteenth century, from the rise of the novel through the Revolution controversy of the 1790s to the shifting ground for women writers leading up to the Reform era in the 1830s. The book maps the religious discourse patterns of Methodism onto works by authors like Samuel Richardson, Mary Wollstonecraft, Hannah More, Elizabeth Hamilton, Mary Tighe, and Felicia Hemans. This provides not only a better sense of the religious nuances of these authors' better-known works, but also a fuller consideration of the wide variety of genres in which women were writing during the period, many of which continue to be read as 'non-literary'. The scope of the book leads the reader from the establishment of evangelical forms of discourse in the 1730s to the natural ends of these discourse structures during the era of reform, all the while pointing to ways in which women - Methodist and otherwise - modified these discourse patterns as acts of resistance or subversion.