Women writers, the popular press and the Literary Fund, 1790–1830
in Women’s work
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This chapter focuses on a group of popular women writers, all of whom were applicants to the writers' charity, the Literary Fund (later the Royal Literary Fund). The picture that emerges from these writers' publications and their pleas to the Fund – the archives of which provide a rich and largely unmined seam of evidence concerning the material conditions, and rhetorical construction, of authorship – is illuminating. Increasingly presented as the degraded other against which the activities of the male professional were defined, women's work was to play an ever more central role in the discourse of authorship in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, to the detriment of a number of its best-loved practitioners. Moreover, as gender became increasingly constitutive of literary authority at the turn of the century, so the discourse of authorship served more insistently to reinforce constructions of gender.

Women’s work

Labour, gender, authorship, 1750–1830

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