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Pay, professionalization and probable dominance? Women writers and the children’s book trade

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matthew Grenby


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© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016. Book history has revealed much about women’s writing in the long eighteenth century. Quantitative research has shown, to take one emphatic example, that during the 1780-1820 boom years, more novels were written by women than men. 1 More qualitative research has demonstrated that women writers were often not merely amateurs, dabbling in literature for the satisfaction only of themselves and their friends, but were frequently highly professionalized, with a substantial degree of agency in the production and dissemination of their work, even if their livelihoods were precarious. 2 We now also know that, as well as being readers and writers, many women were instrumental in the operation of print culture in other ways: as, say, editors, anthologizers, printers, retailers and collectors. We have come to recognize that the standard book history models are not always adequate. The enduring importance of oral and manuscript transmission has meant that women’s work often stood outside what we have hitherto usually understood as constituting literary culture. 3 But much is still to be done. We have, as Jacqueline Labbe puts it, ʼnot yet fully recovered the economics of female authorship’. 4 This is particularly true for genres besides the novel. Michelle Levy has specifi cally called for more work on women’s involvement in the production of poetry, ‘as well as their (probable) dominance in emergent genres like children’s literature’.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Grenby MO

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Women's Writing, 1660-1830: Feminisms and Futures

Year: 2016

Pages: 117-137

Acceptance date: 01/01/2016

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan


DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-54382-0_7

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781137543813