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'What Goddess, or what Muse must I invoke to guide me through these vast, unexplored regions of fancy?' Clare Reeve This anthology brings together for the first time the work of over forty women writers in a period marked by rapid social change, intense intellectual and political debate, and a sharpened focus on the rights and wrongs of women. Covering a wide range of writing in a variety of literary and non-literary genres, it represents women's contributions to economics, the physical sciences, literature for children, social geography, history, and religion, as well as poetry, the novel, drama, and criticism. Some of the writers included are familar names - Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett - but many others are new. Controversial figures such as the prophet Joanna Southcott and the first female historian, Catharine Macaulay, come back into view, along with strikingly inventive work in all the genres represented, including, for the first time, women's contributions to domestic economy in the age before Mrs Beeton. The significance of women's writing in the public arena of the time has often been underestimated, and what emerges from the pages of this anthology is a female intellectual culture that is diverse, impassioned, contentious, and very much alive.
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