chapter  15
14 Pages

Women in Literature: Women's Writing, Writing About Women

The sense of a tradition in women's writing, the "communality and self-awareness" that the word tradition implies, does not appear in AngloAmerican women's literature until the Victorian period, which lasted from the birth of Queen Victoria in 1837 until her death in 1901. In the United States, very few books by women appeared in the eighteenth century, and though the majority of eighteenth-century novels in England were femaleauthored, apparently very little direct intluence was exerted by these early novelists on the women novelists born after 1800 (Showalter, 1977). Even the work of Jane Austen (1775-1817) had little intluence on nineteenthcentury women novelists. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), whose A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) is seen as the first manifesto of women's rights, was not widely read in the nineteenth century because of her scandalous life (Showalter, 1977).