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Books, bodies and the sensuous materials of the mind
Richard De Ritter

contentious, enterprise. J. Paul Hunter notes that ‘evidence about female literacy is hard to come by until the second half of the eighteenth century’, but even after this date figures are based upon the ability to sign one’s name on the marriage application, which became a legal requirement following Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753. See Hunter, Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction (New York: Norton, 1990), p. 69. For further details, see R. S. Schofield, ‘Dimensions of Illiteracy in England 1750–1850’, in Literacy and Social

in Imagining women readers, 1789–1820