/unproductive/reproductive labourhierarchy suggested by The Wealth of Nations, Smith, I suggest, looked
back to the Lockean paradigm of labour as self-ownership. As a femme
couverte, the wife of a debtor and mother to children defrauded of their
inheritance, Smith found in the labour theory of value, I suggest, a means
to self-possession through authorship that eluded her in life.
If Smith’s engagement with questions surrounding female labour
and value tells a very personal story, then in Wollstonecraft’s case the
question of women’s work is very much a public concern, the negotiation
such, ‘The History of a Gentoo Slave’ can profitably be
read as an attempt to recuperate authorship in fiction through a reworking
of the division of labour not unlike that attempted in Claims of Literature.
Like Williams’s manifesto, Instructive Rambles Extended establishes
writing as an analogue for labour in order to argue for the transformative
and socially useful role of literature, before subordinating mechanical
to intellectual work within the strict labourhierarchy the text constructs
in order to assert authorship’s primacy as a morally useful, politically