The Rise And Fall Of The Woman Of Letters

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Random House, Feb 8, 2011 - Literary Criticism - 400 pages

If Aphra Benn is widely regarded as the first important woman writer in English, who was the second? In literary history, the eighteenth century belongs to men: Pope and Swift, Richardson and Fielding. Asked to name a woman, even the specialist stumbles. Jane Austen? She didn't publish until 1811. Aphra Benn herself? She died in 1869.

The Rise and Fall of the Woman of Letters tells the remarkable but little-known story of women writers in the eighteenth century - of poets, critics, dramatists and scholars celebrated in their own time but all but forgotten by the beginning of the new century.

Eliza Haywood, Catherine Cockburn, Elizabeth Elstob, Delarivier Manley, Elizabeth Rowe, Jane Barker, Elizabeth Thomas, Anna Seward... In a book which ranges from country house to Grub Street, Norma Clarke recovers these and other writers, establishes the reasons for their eclipse and discovers that a room of one's own in the eighteenth century was as likely to be a prison cell as a boudoir.


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The rise and fall of the woman of letters

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In this ambitious work on 18th-century British women of letters, Clarke (Ambitious Heights ) brings to light many celebrated and less well-known or forgotten names, among them Anne Seward, Aphra Behn ... Read full review


Becoming a writer
Resisting matrimony
The Swan of Lichfield
Elizabeth Elstob and George Ballard
Memoirs of British Ladies
early development of a poet
Generous sentiments and elegant desires
Mrs Rowes Devout Exercises of the Heart
A poetical shephilosopher
Chapter Eight
Jane Barkers histories of Galesia
Mary Davys and real events

Chapter Three
The very respectable Mrs Elizabeth Rowe
Eliza Haywood
Clara Reeve and The Progress of Romance
Reeve Carter Elstob
Chapter Four
Sarah Fieldings Remarks on Clarissa
The love of dear pen and
Chapter Five
model female poet
Margaret Cavendish and Aphra Behn
Jane Barker
Laetitia Pilkingtons Memoirs
Chapter Nine
Catharine Cockburn reads Pope
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Pope
Exhibiting the soul of the author
The Memoirs of Emma
Letters for Literary Ladies

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About the author (2011)

Educated at the Universities of Lancaster, London, and Kent, Norma Clarke is a Research Fellow in the English Department, Kingston University, and an Honorary Research Fellow in the History Department, Royal Holloway College, University of London. She is the author of five novels for children, numerous articles and several books, including Ambitious Heights (1990) and Dr Johnson's Women (2000).

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