“Anna Barbauld and the Business of Literature.” In Her Hand: Letters by Romantic-Era British Women Writers in New Zealand Collections. Eds. Thomas McLean and Shef Rogers. Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 2013.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, many female authors challenged societal expectations. Everyone knows about Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, but Austen and Shelley’s contemporaries included leading women novelists, poets, playwrights, essayists, historians and philanthropists. In Her Hand presents more than fifty previously unpublished letters written by eleven of these women: Anna Barbauld, Hannah More, Joanna Baillie, Jane Porter, Lady Morgan, Lucy Aikin, Amelia Opie, Lady Byron, Felicia Hemans, Anna Jameson, and Maria Jane Jewsbury. Little known today, most of these women were household names to British readers two hundred years ago. But what also makes In Her Hand distinctive is the fact that these letters have been hidden away in public library collections in New Zealand. Had they been in US or UK collections, many of these letters would have been published long ago.
Written by the Otago Students of Letters, In Her Hand is the perfect introduction to this group of remarkable and rediscovered British women writers. Each chapter offers a short biography, transcriptions of the new letters and a discussion of their significance. The letters range in theme from publishing and literary endeavours to spiritual and family concerns. Anyone interested in British literature in the era of Austen, Shelley, William Wordsworth and Lord Byron will find these letters fascinating.
For a sample from each chapter of the work, click here.