In challenging at once the prevailing political attitudes of the time, and the literary ones, Wollstonecraft lays a foundation for her daughter, Mary Shelley, to continue these efforts. Wollstonecraft was arguing for a sense of radical inclusion, that by ironing out the divisions between men and women mankind might become, in her words, ‘more wise and virtuous’, with a greater sense of equality. Wollstonecraft died giving birth to her daughter, Mary, a fact which haunted Shelley throughout her life.
“In the 1820s and 1830s […] theatre productions in London were becoming more elaborate in their setting, dressing and ‘getting up’” (Taylor 1993, 3). Shakespeare productions in the Victorian era were marked by a sumptuous and decadent attention to visual artistry.
By Alice Theobald In executing a fictional will, sixteenth-century poet Isabella Whitney not only presented a defence of women's legal legitimacy but also externalised herself into the city, channelling her personal impulses into the physical structures and material goods of her London. However, rather than reducing herself to a commodity, she uses her distribution of… Continue reading A Renaissance Flâneur: Isabella Whitney’s willed urban self
By Alice Theobald Termed by Brigitte Hamann ‘a woman who refused to behave according to her rank’, Empress Sisi’s somewhat playful audacity was always at odds with the official role of Empress of Austria she assumed at the tender age of sixteen. Her childhood spent at Possenhofen Castle fostered an unrestrained environment with few rules… Continue reading An Unwilling Empress: Sisi through the lens of her poetry and the portraits of Franz Xaver Winterhalter
By Alice Theobald In a period noted for its ostensible conservatism and censorship of linguistic taboos, Christina Rossetti is often taken as paradigmatic of this aversion towards the open expression of sensuality and female sensation. However, her religious poetry in fact displays a marked tendency towards images of physical desire, appropriating the language of erotic… Continue reading Registering Desire: Spousal and Appetitive Imagery in the Religious and Devotional Poetry of Christina Rossetti
By Mimi Goodall It is fascinating to analyse the ways in which female writers, working within a predominantly male tradition, negotiate their gender, femininity and sexuality in their writing. In women’s writing, the “female” shifts from existing as written object to active creator of the text. As they subvert or adapt traditional representations of women… Continue reading Friendship in Emblem: Negotiating Gender and Sexuality in the Poetry of Katherine Philips
By Virginia Woolf This article was first published Woolf's 'The Common Reader' in 1925. Let us bother the librarian once again. Let us ask him to reach down, dust, and hand over to us that little brown book over there, the Memoirs of Mrs. Pilkington, three volumes bound in one, printed by Peter Hoey in… Continue reading ‘Laetitia Pilkington’ by Virginia Woolf
By Rhiannon Garth Jones and Tom Dean. For over three thousand years, poetry has been a way to achieve immortality, both for the poet and the subject, making permanent the passing lives of humans. This fragment from Sappho expresses, whether intentionally or not, that belief, and proves it to be justified. Although almost nothing of… Continue reading “I say someone in another time will remember us”: The Legend of Sappho
When considering influential women over the centuries, Carol Ann Duffy certainly holds her own. Born in 1955 to Frank Duffy and May Black, her dynamic, down-to-earth and personal writing has struck chords with a huge variety of people. Dealing with issues such as love, romance and a sense of rootlessness, Duffy's use of every-day language… Continue reading Carol Ann Duffy
By Charlotte Malcolm. Carol Ann Duffy’s recent appointment as Poet Laureate is a significant milestone for women in poetry. However, beyond this is the significance of Duffy’s work in giving women a voice. At the very heart of Duffy’s work lies equality; with careful consideration of social, cultural and historical factors, Duffy re-presents gender and… Continue reading Carol Ann Duffy: A chorus of female voices