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I scribble, you write

Tessa Hadley: Women Reading, 26 September 2013

The Woman Reader 
by Belinda Jack.
Yale, 330 pp., £9.99, August 2013, 978 0 300 19720 4
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Curious Subjects 
by Hilary Schor.
Oxford, 271 pp., £41.99, January 2013, 978 0 19 992809 5
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... who wants too fiercely to put clear water between herself and the inferiority of most of her sex? Mary Wollstonecraft sometimes can’t contain herself on the frivolity of girls who chatter about clothes and men; whereas Jane Austen is confident that gossip is a real kind of knowing, not subordinate to theory or learned tradition. Why does George Eliot ...


Ferdinand Mount: British Weeping, 17 December 2015

Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears 
by Thomas Dixon.
Oxford, 438 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 0 19 967605 7
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... impossible to pin tears down.’ Dixon directs the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London. Keats might have thought this rather like a Department for Unweaving the Rainbow. Dixon is no dry-eyed Dryasdust. He confesses that he himself is liable to weep at operas and soap operas, at the triumphs and disasters of Wimbledon and ...

I jolly well would have

Paul Foot, 20 August 1992

Claire clairmont and the Shelleys 
by Robert Gittings and Jo Manton.
Oxford, 281 pp., £20, April 1992, 0 19 818594 4
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Mab’s Daughters 
by Judith Chernaik.
Pan, 229 pp., £5.99, July 1992, 0 330 32379 2
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... Chernaik’s novel is a series of fictional diary entries for 1816 and 1817 by four women – Mary and Fanny, the daughters of Mary Wollstonecraft; Claire, their step-sister; and Harriet, Shelley’s first wife, who drowned herself in 1816. In an entry (entirely fictional, it must be stressed) dated 9 October ...

Versatile Monster

Marilyn Butler, 5 May 1988

In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and 19th-century Writing 
by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 207 pp., £22.50, December 1987, 0 19 811726 4
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... since shortly after the work’s first appearance in 1818, without necessarily reading a line of Mary Shelley’s prose. More than a century before it was filmed, it existed in two rival stage versions. Cartoonists drew it, writers and politicians alluded to it. The plot, rather like the monster, got away from its creator and walked the world. It’s for the ...

So Much for Staying Single

Maya Jasanoff: 18th-Century Calcutta, 20 March 2008

Hartly House, Calcutta 
by Phebe Gibbes.
Oxford, 222 pp., £13.99, April 2007, 978 0 19 568564 0
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... in the days of Hastings. This must be the only book currently on sale that carries a blurb by Mary Wollstonecraft on its jacket. Reviewing Hartly House, Calcutta in the Analytical Review, Wollstonecraft praised the novel’s ‘entertaining account of Calcutta … apparently sketched by a person who had been ...

Return of the Male

Martin Amis, 5 December 1991

Iron John: A Book about Men 
by Robert Bly.
Element, 268 pp., £12.95, September 1991, 9781852302337
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The way men think: Intellect, Intimacy and the Erotic Imagination 
by Liam Hudson and Bernadine Jacot.
Yale, 219 pp., £16.95, November 1991, 0 300 04997 8
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Utne Reader. Men, it’s time to pull together: The Politics of Masculinity 
Lens, 144 pp., $4, May 1991Show More
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... What is the deep background on the ‘deep male’? From 100,000 BC until, let’s say, 1792 (Mary Wollstonecraft and her Vindication of the Rights of Women), there was, simply, the Man, whose main characteristic was that he got away with everything. From 1792 until about 1970, there was, in theory anyway, the Enlightened Man, who, while continuing ...

Wives, Queens, Distant Princesses

John Bayley, 23 October 1986

The Bondage of Love: A Life of Mrs Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
by Molly Lefebure.
Gollancz, 287 pp., £15.95, July 1986, 0 575 03871 3
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Jane Welsh Carlyle 
by Virginia Surtees.
Michael Russell, 294 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 85955 134 2
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... was avidly curious of all that was going in the world of fashion, literature, ideas. She read Mary Wollstonecraft and was an ardent but rational feminist, a position she adhered to staunchly throughout her life. Snobs and gossips put it about that Coleridge and Southey had been ensnared by two designing shopgirls – ‘Milliners from Bath’ was ...


David Gilmour: On Richard Cobb, 21 May 1987

... to Joe Bananas), Daumier, Thiers, Le Corbusier, Haussmann (the ‘Alsatian Attila’), Malraux, Mary Wollstonecraft, poets (especially Baudelaire, though he appreciated Pope for his malice), Saint Just, the staff of the Archives Nationales – and might suggest an habitual intolerance. But he is really only intolerant of other people’s ...

Mr Horse and Mrs Eohippus

Elaine Showalter, 30 January 1992

The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography 
introduced by Ann Lane.
University of Wisconsin Press, 341 pp., £10.45, April 1991, 0 299 12740 0
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Non-Fiction Reader 
edited by Larry Ceplair.
Columbia, 345 pp., £20.50, December 1991, 0 231 07617 7
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... distrusted fiction as too womanish, and in the tradition of such other feminist intellectuals as Mary Wollstonecraft, Margaret Fuller and Beatrice Webb, regarded her stories and poems as sugar-coated pills. ‘I have never made any pretence of being literary,’ she wrote in the autobiography; and even describing her own life did not interest her very ...

Silly Willy

Jonathan Bate, 25 April 1991

William Blake: His Life 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £25, March 1991, 0 297 81160 6
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... the Blake of the Visions of the Daughters of Albion may justifiably be claimed as a sister to Mary Wollstonecraft in the struggle to vindicate the rights of woman. And, most alarmingly in a book that advertises itself as a guide to the poetry as well as the life, it completely misses the point of the poem, which is that the cabinet is by no means a ...

Delightful to be Robbed

E.S. Turner: Stand and deliver, 9 May 2002

Outlaws and Highwaymen: The Cult of the Robber in England from the Middle Ages to the 19th century 
by Gillian Spraggs.
Pimlico, 372 pp., £12.50, November 2001, 0 7126 6479 3
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... echoed in near-identical terms, three hundred years later, by ‘of all people’ the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Visitors to Britain supported Fortescue, never ceasing to comment on the boldness of English robbers and even on their stout bearing on the gallows. In late Elizabethan years the Jesuit Robert Parsons conjectured that there was more ...

Very Pointed

Dinah Birch: Pugin, 20 September 2007

God’s Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain 
by Rosemary Hill.
Allen Lane, 602 pp., August 2007, 978 0 7139 9499 5
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... Godwin’s Political Justice. She favoured the rights of women (perhaps as a result of reading Mary Wollstonecraft), and briefly attempted to found a Godwinian commonwealth with her brother. She had no time for received opinion, exhibiting an independence of mind that she passed on to her son. Her husband, Auguste, was a skilled and resourceful ...

Allergic to Depths

Terry Eagleton: Gothic, 18 March 1999

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Fourth Estate, 438 pp., £20, December 1998, 1 85702 498 2
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... Gothic is largely a question – to quote another Irish Gothicist – of life imitating art. Mary Wollstonecraft was governess to the Kingsborough daughters for a while, and an under-cook called Claridge later opened a hotel in London. If the demonic, macabre stuff of Gothic proves alluring, it is partly because the devil has all the best tunes. But ...

It Just Sounded Good

Bernard Porter: Lady Hester Stanhope, 23 October 2008

Star of the Morning: The Extraordinary Life of Lady Hester Stanhope 
by Kirsten Ellis.
HarperPress, 444 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 717030 2
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... thinks she was an ‘instinctive’ feminist, expressing the contemporary views of Mary Wollstonecraft ‘by her actions’.) Of European nations, she always favoured the French over the British. But the East topped even France. Her admiration for Arab cultures, especially Bedouin, Sufi and Druze, was genuine, not I think Orientalist in ...

No scene could be worse

Stephanie Burt: Adrienne Rich, 9 February 2012

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-10 
by Adrienne Rich.
Norton, 89 pp., £19.99, February 2011, 978 0 393 07967 8
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A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society 1997-2008 
by Adrienne Rich.
Norton, 180 pp., £11.99, July 2010, 978 0 393 33830 0
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... the poet as artist craving space and time, the poet as mother looking for precedents in history (Mary Wollstonecraft) and in the heavens: Banging the coffee-pot into the sink she hears the angels chiding, and looks out past the raked gardens to the sloppy sky. Only a week since They said: Have no patience. The next time it was: Be ...

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