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will fall out the same Way, and that your Distemper
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The fact that Mrs. Manley, a woman, wrote The New Atalantis raises interesting questions about readership of the new paper. Paula McDowell has read The New Atalantis as Mrs. Manley's attempt to establish a place for herself in the male-dominated business of writing and publishing by purveying "intelligence," that is, news.22 If McDowell's plausible interpretation is accepted, an additional irony appears because in the introduction to the first number Steele as Bickerstaff had expressed his resolve "to have something which may be of Entertainment to the Fair Sex. . . . " Just what he had in mind is not certain, but Steele may have understood instinctively what has been demonstrated in recent years by demographic historians, that literacy among London women was rising dramatically in the latter years of the seventeenth and early years of the eighteenth centuries, perhaps doubling in that period, from about twenty-two per cent to forty-four per cent.23 At any rate, Steele went seeking intelligence for himself, from the source: his female readers. He advertised in No. 11: "Any Ladies, who have any particular Stories of their Acquaintance, which they are willing privately to make publick, may send 'em by the Penny-Post to Isaac Bickerstaff Esq; enclos'd to Mr. John Morphew near Stationers Hall."