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Eliza Fenwick
Early Modern Feminist
Lissa Paul
University of Delaware Press, 2019
This captivating biography traces the life of Eliza Fenwick, an extraordinary woman who paved her own unique path throughout the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as she made her way from country to country as writer, teacher, and school owner.

Lissa Paul brings to light Fenwick’s letters for the first time to reveal the relationships she developed with many key figures of her era, and to tell Fenwick’s story as depicted by the woman herself. Fenwick began as a writer in the radical London of the 1790s, a member of Mary Wollstonecraft’s circle, and when her marriage crumbled, she became a prolific author of children’s literature to support her family. Eventually Fenwick moved to Barbados, becoming the owner of a school while confronting the reality of slavery in the British colonies. She would go on to establish schools in numerous cities in the United States and Canada, all the while taking care of her daughter and grandchildren and maintaining her friendships through letters that, as presented here, tell the story of her life.

Published by the University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

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Encyclopedia of British Women Writers
Schlueter, Paul
Rutgers University Press, 1999
This far-reaching examination of women writers identified with Great Britain builds on its predecessor's strengths, with 50 percent new material and completely updated entries. Over six hundred writers are discussed in terms of their biographies--with precise details where these could be ascertained and in come cases correcting biographies in other reference works--as well as in terms of thematic issues and critical reception. Each entry includes a definitive bibliography of the writer and a thorough secondary bibliography (including book-length studies, reference works, major essays, and reviews) to lead readers to other sources. Available in paperback for the first time, this book is an ideal desk reference for scholar and student alike.

Paul Schlueter and June Schlueter have individually and jointly written and edited a number of critical and reference works, including The English Novel: Twentieth Century Criticism (Vol. 2: Twentieth Century Novelists) and Modern American Literature (Supplement 2). Paul Schlueter's books include The Novels of Doris Lessing and Shirley Ann Grau. June Schlueter, Provost, and Dana Professor of English at Lafayette College, has edited Feminist Readings of Modern American Drama and Modern American Drama: The Female Canon. 

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How to Suppress Women's Writing
By Joanna Russ; foreword by Jessa Crispin
University of Texas Press, 2018

Are women able to achieve anything they set their minds to? In How to Suppress Women’s Writing, award-winning novelist and scholar Joanna Russ lays bare the subtle—and not so subtle—strategies that society uses to ignore, condemn, or belittle women who produce literature. As relevant today as when it was first published in 1983, this book has motivated generations of readers with its powerful feminist critique.

“What is it going to take to break apart these rigidities? Russ’s book is a formidable attempt. It is angry without being self-righteous, it is thorough without being exhausting, and it is serious without being devoid of a sense of humor. But it was published over thirty years ago, in 1983, and there’s not an enormous difference between the world she describes and the world we inhabit.”
—Jessa Crispin, from the foreword

“A book of the most profound and original clarity. Like all clear-sighted people who look and see what has been much mystified and much lied about, Russ is quite excitingly subversive. The study of literature should never be the same again.”
—Marge Piercy

“Joanna Russ is a brilliant writer, a writer of real moral passion and high wit.”
—Adrienne Rich


The Ohio State University Press, 2003

As a diary writer imagines shadow readers rifling diary pages, she tweaks images of the self, creating multiple readings of herself, fixed and unfixed. When the readers and potential readers are husbands and publishers, the writer maneuvers carefully in a world of men who are quick to judge and to take offense. She fills the pages with reflections, anecdotes, codes, stories, biographies, and fictions. The diary acts as a site for the writer’s tension, rebellion, and remaking of herself.

In this book Martinson examines the diaries of Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Violet Hunt, and Doris Lessing’s fictional character Anna Wulf, and shows that these diaries (and others like them) are not entirely private writings as has been previously assumed. Rather, their authors wrote them knowing they would be read. In these four cases, the audience is the author’s male lover or husband, and Martinson reveals how knowledge of this audience affects the language and content in each diary. Ultimately, she argues, this audience enforces a certain “male censorship” which changes the shape of the revelations, the shape of the writer herself, making it impossible for the female author to be honest in writing about her true self.

Even sophisticated readers often assume that diaries are primarily private. This study interrogates the myth of authenticity and self-revelation in diaries written under the gaze of particular peekers.


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Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures
Claudia L. Johnson
University of Chicago Press, 2012

Jane Austen completed only six novels, but enduring passion for the author and her works has driven fans to read these books repeatedly, in book clubs or solo, while also inspiring countless film adaptations, sequels, and even spoofs involving zombies and sea monsters. Austen’s lasting appeal to both popular and elite audiences has lifted her to legendary status. In Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures, Claudia L. Johnson shows how Jane Austen became “Jane Austen,” a figure intensely—sometimes even wildly—venerated, and often for markedly different reasons.

Johnson begins by exploring the most important monuments and portraits of Austen, considering how these artifacts point to an author who is invisible and yet whose image is inseparable from the characters and fictional worlds she created. She then passes through the four critical phases of Austen’s reception—the Victorian era, the First and Second World Wars, and the establishment of the Austen House and Museum in 1949—and ponders what the adoration of Austen has meant to readers over the past two centuries. For her fans, the very concept of “Jane Austen” encapsulates powerful ideas and feelings about history, class, manners, intimacy, language, and the everyday. By respecting the intelligence of past commentary about Austen, Johnson shows, we are able to revisit her work and unearth fresh insights and new critical possibilities.
An insightful look at how and why readers have cherished one of our most beloved authors, Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures will be a valuable addition to the library of any fan of the divine Jane.

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Kindred Hands
Letters on Writing by British and American Women Authors, 1865-1935
Jennifer Cognard-Black
University of Iowa Press, 2006
Kindred Hands, a collection of previously unpublished letters by women writers, explores the act and art of writing from diverse perspectives and experiences. The letters illuminate such issues as authorship, aesthetics, collaboration, inspiration, and authorial intent. By focusing on letters that deal with authorship, the editors reveal a multiplicity of perspectives on female authorship that would otherwise require visits to archives and special collections.Representing some of the most important female writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including transatlantic correspondents, women of color, canonical writers, regional writers, and women living in the British empire, Kindred Hands will enliven scholarship on a host of topics, including reception theory, feminist studies, social history, composition theory, modernism, and nineteenth-century studies. Moreover, because it represents previously unpublished primary sources, the collection will initiate new discussions on race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and gender with an eye to writing at the turn of the twentieth century.The WritersMary Elizabeth Braddon, Mary Cholmondeley, Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright [George Egerton], Rhoda Broughton, Marie Corelli, Rebecca Harding Davis, Mary Abigail Dodge [Gail Hamilton], Jessie Redmon Fauset, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Mary St. Leger Kingsley Harrison [Lucas Malet], Annesley Kenealy, Palma Pederson, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Henrietta Stannard, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Rosamund Marriott Watson [Graham R. Tomson]

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Kindred Nature
Victorian and Edwardian Women Embrace the Living World
Barbara T. Gates
University of Chicago Press, 1999
In Kindred Nature, Barbara T. Gates highlights the contributions of Victorian and Edwardian women to the study, protection, and writing of nature. Recovering their works from the misrepresentation they often faced at the time of their composition, Gates discusses not just well-known women like Beatrix Potter but also others—scientists, writers, gardeners, and illustrators—who are little known today.

Some of these women discovered previously unknown species, others wrote and illustrated natural histories or animal stories, and still others educated women, the working classes, and children about recent scientific advances. A number of women also played pivotal roles in the defense of animal rights by protesting overhunting, vivisection, and habitat destruction, even as they demanded their own rights to vote, work, and enter universities.

Kindred Nature shows the enormous impact Victorian and Edwardian women had on the natural sciences and the environmental movement, and on our own attitudes toward nature and human nature.


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Life in the Writings of Storm Jameson
A Biography
Elizabeth Maslen
Northwestern University Press, 2014

Margaret Storm Jameson (1891–1986) is primarily known as a compelling essayist; her stature as a novelist and champion of the dispossessed is largely forgotten. In Life in the Writings of Storm Jameson, Elizabeth Maslen reveals a figure who held her own beside fellow British women writers, including Virginia Woolf; anticipated the Angry Young Women, such as Doris Lessing; and was an early champion of such European writers as Arthur Koestler and Czesław Miłosz. Jameson was a complex character whose politics were grounded in social justice; she was passionately antifascist—her novel In the Second Year (1936) raised the alarm about Nazism—but always wary of communism. An eloquent polemicist, Jameson was, as president of the British P.E.N. during the 1930s and 1940s, of invaluable assistance to refugee writers. Elizabeth Maslen’s biography introduces a true twentieth century hedgehog, whose essays and subtly experimental fiction were admired in Europe and the States.


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Portrait of a Marriage
Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson
Nigel Nicolson
University of Chicago Press, 1998
Vita Sackville-West, novelist, poet, and biographer, is best known as the friend of Virginia Woolf, who transformed her into an androgynous time-traveler in Orlando. The story of Sackville-West's marriage to Harold Nicolson is one of intrigue and bewilderment. In Portrait of a Marriage, their son Nigel combines his mother's memoir with his own explanations and what he learned from their many letters. Even during her various love affairs with women, Vita maintained a loving marriage with Harold. Portrait of a Marriage presents an often misunderstood but always fascinating couple.

"Portrait of a Marriage is as close to a cry from the heart as anybody writing in English in our time has come, and it is a cry that, once heard, is not likely ever to be forgotten. . . . Unexpected and astonishing."—Brendan Gill, New Yorker

"The charm of this book lies in the elegance of its narration, the taste with which their son has managed to convey the real, enduring quality of his parents' love for each other."—Doris Grumbach, New Republic

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Portraits of the Artist as a Young Woman
Painting and the Novel in France and Britain, 1800–1860
Alexandra K. Wettlaufer
The Ohio State University Press, 2011
As women entered the field of cultural production in unprecedented numbers in nineteenth-century France and Britain, they gradually forged a place for themselves, however tenuous, in artistic movements and exhibitions, in academies and salons, and finally in the public imagination. Portraits of the Artist as a Young Woman: Painting and the Novel in France and Britain, 1800–1860 focuses on a decisive period in that process of professional self-invention and maps out the concrete and symbolic roles played by women painters, real and fictional, in the construction of female artistic identity in the aesthetic and the public spheres. Alexandra K. Wettlaufer examines the diverse and complex ways canonical and non-canonical women painters and novelists—including Anne Brontë, Sydney Owenson, Margaret Gillies, Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, George Sand, and Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot—figured and brought forth the radical image of a female subject representing the world.
Wettlaufer brings to light a rich and nearly forgotten culture of women’s artistic production, allowing us to understand the nineteenth-century in more complex and nuanced ways across the borders of gender, genre, and nation. In her close readings of paintings by women and novels about women painting, she charts the political and cultural resonances of this artistic self-representation, tracing its evolution through themes of “The Studio” (Part I), “Cosmopolitan Visions” (Part II), and “The Portrait” (Part III). By pairing painting and literature in a single study that also considers works from two distinct but closely related cultures, Portraits of the Artist as a Young Woman locates the interpretation of these works in the dialogic context in which they were created and consumed, highlighting aesthetic and political intersections between nineteenth-century British and French art, literature, and feminism that are too often elided by the disciplinary boundaries of scholarship.

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Shaggy Muses
The Dogs who Inspired Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton, and Emily Brontë
Maureen Adams
University of Chicago Press, 2011

“You’ll call this sentimental—perhaps—but then a dog somehow represents the private side of life, the play side,” Virginia Woolf confessed to a friend. In this charming and engaging book, Maureen Adams celebrates this private, playful side telling readers about the relationships between five remarkable women writers and their dogs.

In Shaggy Muses, Adams explores the work and lives of these authors through the various roles played by their most devoted companions. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was rescued from a life of passivity and illness by Flush, a lively, possessive (and frequently dog-napped!) golden Cocker Spaniel. Emily Brontë’s fierce Mastiff mix, Keeper, provided a safe and loving outlet for the writer’s equally fierce spirit. Emily Dickinson found companionship with Carlo, the gentle, giant Newfoundland who soothed her emotional terrors. A troop of ever-faithful Pekingese warmed Edith Wharton’s lonely heart during her restless travels among Europe and America’s social and intellectual elite. And Virginia Woolf developed a deep attachment to Pinka, a black Cocker Spaniel who was both gift from her lover, Vita Sackville-West, and a link to her husband Leonard.

Based on diaries, letters, and other contemporary accounts—and featuring many illustrations of the writers and their dogs—these five miniature biographies allow unparalleled intimacy with women of genius in their hours of domestic ease and inner vulnerability.


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Uneven Developments
The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England
Mary Poovey
University of Chicago Press, 1988
Mary Poovey's The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer has become a standard text in feminist literary discourse. In Uneven Developments Poovey turns to broader historical concerns in an analysis of how notions of gender shape ideology.

Asserting that the organization of sexual difference is a social, not natural, phenomenon, Poovey shows how representations of gender took the form of a binary opposition in mid-Victorian culture. She then reveals the role of this opposition in various discourses and institutions—medical, legal, moral, and literary. The resulting oppositions, partly because they depended on the subordination of one term to another, were always unstable. Poovey contends that this instability helps explain why various institutional versions of binary logic developed unevenly. This unevenness, in turn, helped to account for the emergence in the 1850s of a genuine oppositional voice: the voice of an organized, politicized feminist movement.

Drawing on a wide range of sources—parliamentary debates, novels, medical lectures, feminist analyses of work, middle-class periodicals on demesticity—Poovey examines various controversies that provide glimpses of the ways in which representations of gender were simultaneously constructed, deployed, and contested. These include debates about the use of chloroform in childbirth, the first divorce law, the professional status of writers, the plight of governesses, and the nature of the nursing corps. Uneven Developments is a contribution to the feminist analysis of culture and ideology that challenges the isolation of literary texts from other kinds of writing and the isolation of women's issues from economic and political histories.

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Victorian Bestseller
The Life of Dinah Craik
Karen Bourrier
University of Michigan Press, 2019
When novelist Dinah Craik (1826–87) died, expressions of grief came from Lord Alfred Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning, T.H. Huxley, and James Russell Lowell, among others, and even Queen Victoria picked up her pen to offer her consolation to the widower. Despite Craik’s enormous popularity throughout a literary career that spanned forty years, she is now all but forgotten. Yet, in an otherwise respectable life bookended by scandal, this was precisely the way that she wanted it.

Victorian Bestseller is the first book to relate the story of Dinah Craik’s remarkable life. Combining extensive archival work with theoretical work in disability studies and the professionalization of women’s authorship, Karen Bourrier engagingly traces the contours of this author’s life. Craik, who wrote extensively about disability in her work, was no stranger to it in her personal and professional life, marked by experiences of mental and physical disability, and the ebb and flow of health. Following scholarship in the ethics of care and disability studies, the book posits Craik as an interdependent subject, placing her within a network of writers, publishers, editors and artists, friends, and family members. Victorian Bestseller also traces the conditions in the material history of the book that allowed Victorian women writers’ careers to flourish. In doing so, the biography connects corporeality, gender, and the material history of the book to the professionalization of Victorian women’s authorship.

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Victorian Women Writers, Radical Grandmothers, and the Gendering of God
Gail Turley Houston
The Ohio State University Press, 2013
If Victorian women writers yearned for authorial forebears, or, in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s words, for “grandmothers,” there were, Gail Turley Houston argues, grandmothers who in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries envisioned powerful female divinities that would reconfigure society. Like many Victorian women writers, they experienced a sense of what Barrett Browning termed “mother-want” inextricably connected to “mother-god-want.” These millenarian and socialist feminist grandmothers believed the time had come for women to initiate the earthly paradise that patriarchal institutions had failed to establish.
Recuperating a symbolic divine in the form of the Great Mother—a pagan Virgin Mary, a female messiah, and a titanic Eve—Joanna Southcott, Eliza Sharples, Frances Wright, and others set the stage for Victorian women writers to envision and impart emanations of puissant Christian and pagan goddesses, enabling them to acquire the authorial legitimacy patriarchal culture denied them. Though the Victorian authors studied by Houston—Barrett Browning, Charlotte Brontë, Florence Nightingale, Anna Jameson, and George Eliot—often masked progressive rhetoric, even in some cases seeming to reject these foremothers, their radical genealogy reappeared in mystic, metaphysical revisions of divinity that insisted that deity be understood, at least in part, as substantively female.

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Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture between the Wars
By Faye Hammill
University of Texas Press, 2007

As mass media burgeoned in the years between the first and second world wars, so did another phenomenon—celebrity. Beginning in Hollywood with the studio-orchestrated transformation of uncredited actors into brand-name stars, celebrity also spread to writers, whose personal appearances and private lives came to fascinate readers as much as their work. Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture between the Wars profiles seven American, Canadian, and British women writers—Dorothy Parker, Anita Loos, Mae West, L. M. Montgomery, Margaret Kennedy, Stella Gibbons, and E. M. Delafield—who achieved literary celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s and whose work remains popular even today.

Faye Hammill investigates how the fame and commercial success of these writers—as well as their gender—affected the literary reception of their work. She explores how women writers sought to fashion their own celebrity images through various kinds of public performance and how the media appropriated these writers for particular cultural discourses. She also reassesses the relationship between celebrity culture and literary culture, demonstrating how the commercial success of these writers caused literary elites to denigrate their writing as "middlebrow," despite the fact that their work often challenged middle-class ideals of marriage, home, and family and complicated class categories and lines of social discrimination.

The first comparative study of North American and British literary celebrity, Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture between the Wars offers a nuanced appreciation of the middlebrow in relation to modernism and popular culture.


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Writing Habits
Historicism, Philosophy, and English Benedictine Convents, 1600–1800
Jaime Goodrich
University of Alabama Press, 2021
The first in-depth examination of the texts produced in English Benedictine convents between 1600 and 1800
After Catholicism became illegal in England during the sixteenth century, Englishwomen established more than twenty convents on the Continent that attracted thousands of nuns and served as vital centers of Catholic piety until the French Revolution. Today more than 1,000 manuscripts and books produced by, and for, the Benedictine convents are extant in European archives. Writing Habits: Historicism, Philosophy, and English Benedictine Convents, 1600–1800 provides the first substantive analysis of these works in order to examine how members of one religious order used textual production to address a major dilemma experienced by every English convent on the Continent: How could English nuns cultivate a cloistered identity when the Protestant Reformation had swept away nearly all vestiges of English monasticism?
Drawing on an innovative blend of methodologies, Jaime Goodrich contends that the Benedictines instilled a collective sense of spirituality through writings that created multiple overlapping communities, ranging from the earthly society of the convent to the transhistorical network of the Catholic Church. Because God resides at the heart of these communities, Goodrich draws on the works of Martin Buber, a twentieth-century Jewish philosopher who theorized that human community forms a circle, with each member acting as a radius leading toward the common center of God. Buber’s thought, especially his conception of the I-You framework for personal and spiritual relationships, illuminates a fourfold set of affiliations central to Benedictine textual production: between the nuns themselves, between the individual nun and God, between the convent and God, and between the convent and the Catholic public sphere. By evoking these relationships, the major genres of convent writing—administrative texts, spiritual works, history and life writing, and controversial tracts—functioned as tools for creating community and approaching God.

Through this Buberian reading of the cloister, Writing Habits recovers the works of Benedictine nuns and establishes their broader relevance to literary history and critical theory.

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