This anthology gathers 368 poems by 80 British women poets of the long eighteenth century. Few of these poems have been reprinted since originally published, and all are crucial to understanding fully the literary history of women writers.
Paula R. Backscheider and Catherine E. Ingrassia demonstrate the enormous diversity of poetry produced during this time by organizing the poems in three broad and deliberately overlapping categories: by genre, establishing that women wrote in all of the forms that men did with equal mastery and creativity; by theme, offering a revisionary look at the range of topics these writers addressed, including war, ecology, friendship, religion, and the stages of life; and by the poems’ more specific focus on the women’s experiences as writers.
Backscheider and Ingrassia have selected poems that represent the best work of skilled poets, creating a wonderful mix of canonical and little-known pieces. They include the complete texts of longer poems that are abridged or omitted in other collections. Their substantial part introductions, textual notes, bibliographical information, and biographical sketches situate the poets and their writings within the cultural and political milieu in which they appeared.
To generate further scholarship on this subject, this essential anthology puts primary texts in front of students, scholars, and general readers. It fills the persistent need to document women’s poetic expression during the long eighteenth century and to rewrite the literary history of the period, a history from which women have largely been excluded.
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