Sunday, June 14, 2009

Literary Women

A New York Times article titled "Women and Literature: Work with Brain and Pen Does Not Unfit Them for Duty as Wives and Mothers. Mrs. Jellyby Not a Type", published on November 7, 1898 discusses several female writers of the 19th century. Among the writers included for discussion of their feminine accomplishments are Harriet Martineau, George Eliot, Margaret Oliphant, Charlotte Bronte, George Sand, Madame de Stael, Helen Hunt, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Jane Austen.

Mrs. Jellyby, a character in Dickens' Bleak House, is mentioned as having become a stereotype for literary women in the minds of the public, even though she was a philanthropist rather than a writer. Unkempt, ignoring the needs of her family, Mrs. Jellyby was not an appealing woman for the 19th century public, and her image is said to have tarnished the reputation of many a literary woman.

An article worth reading.

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