Had B.G. MacCarthy's criticism been available, Showalter's "A Literature of Their Own" would have been a very different kind of book...In some ways, contemporary could be ten years ahead if we had started the climb from MacCarthy's groundwork."
--Maggie Humm, University of East London
Back in print for the first time since the 1940's, this classic work of pre-feminist literary criticism is a challenging and authoritative assessment of women's contributions to English literature. B. G. MacCarthy, widely praised for the originality of her scholarship, challenges the dominant picture of mascaline literary history created by T. S. Eliot and F. R. Leavis. Written with crisp humor and irony, her exploration of women's writing. Focusing on a wide range of authors including Lady Mary Wroath, Eliza Hayward, Aphra Behn, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Inchbald, Margaret Cavendish and Jane Austen- illustrates that these women attempted almost every genre of fiction, enriched many, and initiated some of the most important. Often savagely witty, The Female Pen discusses a vast array of fictional forms, including picturesque, moralistic, oriental, domestic, and gothic novels.
"While feminist critics have re-invented the canon, studies of male authors have remained oddly ungendered. The authors in Peter Murphy's enlightening collection hold male authors up to a gender lens' to explore how in their lives and in their texts, these writers were working out issues of masculinity and sexuality. The refreshing results cross all boundaries cultural, sexual, even disciplinary." -Michael S. Kimmel, SUNY, Stony Brook, Editor, "Men's Lives" and "Men Confront Pornography"