Leonie Hannan
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Writing and thinking
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Letter-writing was an instrument for self-education and provided the writer with the space to rehearse critical skills. Letter-writing started in childhood as a tool in parents’ strategies to educate and socialise their children. Once the childhood exercise had been converted into a lifelong epistolary habit however its scope broadened – laying open networks of acquaintance both geographically and socially distant from the correspondent. Here the letter is seen as a key mechanism in the process of intellectual engagement that both stimulated and shaped the informal scholarship of women in this period. The networks of exchange created and maintained by epistolary culture will also be examined. Female letter-writing networks created mutual reinforcement of intellectual purpose. In other cases male mentorship proved the catalyst for cross-gender academic exchange.

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Women of letters

Gender, writing and the life of the mind in early modern England

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