These new essays by leading scholars explore nineteenth-century women's writing across a spectrum of genres. The book's focus is on women's role in and access to literary culture in the broadest sense, as consumers and interpreters as well as practitioners of that culture. Individual chapters consider women as journalists, editors, translators, scholars, actresses, playwrights, autobiographers, biographers, writers for children and religious writers as well as novelists and poets. The impact of women in the literary marketplace, women's role in public debate, the cultural power of women readers, women writers' construction of gender and sexuality, and the formation of a female canon are central concerns in a century which saw the emergence of a mass audience for literature. A unique chronology offers a woman-centred perspective on literary and historical events and there is a guide to further reading.
'This book, with a useful guide to further reading and a detailed chronology, is to be strongly recommended to those readers who seek to enrich their response to the work of the Brontes in the context of beliefs, debates, social life, and conditions of literary production in the nineteenth century.' Bronte Studies '... stimulating and eminently readable ...'. Yearbook of English Studies '... an impressive and valuable contribution to the study of nineteenth-century women writers ... This book adds new dimensions to prevailing models of nineteenth-century women's writing and opens up intriguing areas of further study ... Meticulously researched and lively it will be of interest to undergraduate students as well as to more established scholars of the range, variety and status of nineteenth-century women's writing.' The George Eliot Review '... wealth of critical perception presented to us in these essays ... study whose contribution to the study of female literary figures in the nineteenth century should not be underestimated.' The Gaskell Society Journal